Sinclair joins elite research team for unmanned aircraft

Steve Johnson, president of Sinclair Community College, speaks at a press conference announcing Sinclair's selection to join the world's leading unmanned aerial systems research team. Eileen McClory / Staff
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Steve Johnson, president of Sinclair Community College, speaks at a press conference announcing Sinclair's selection to join the world's leading unmanned aerial systems research team. Eileen McClory / Staff

Only U.S. community college to be core member of FAA drone group

A Sinclair Community College program recently joined an elite research team for unmanned aerial systems as a core member, the only community college in the U.S. to do so.

“It’s both a signal that we’ve done good in Dayton, Ohio, and it’s also a signal that Dayton, Ohio, is doing good, and will do more good in this field,” said Steve Johnson, president of Sinclair College.

The Sinclair program is the National UAS Training and Certification Center, and the program they are joining as a core member is the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE), the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Center of Excellence.

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Unmanned aerial systems on display at Sinclair Community College during a press conference on Thursday. Eileen McClory / Staff

Unmanned aerial systems on display at Sinclair Community College during a press conference on Thursday. Eileen McClory / Staff
Caption
Unmanned aerial systems on display at Sinclair Community College during a press conference on Thursday. Eileen McClory / Staff

ASSURE provides high-quality research and support for stakeholders inside and outside the United States to integrate autonomous systems into the world’s infrastructure. It is made up of 25 of the world’s leading research institutions and over 100 industry and government partners.

Since 2008, Sinclair has been part of UAS innovation, including creating partnerships, developing curriculum and investing to establish a nationally prominent program dedicated to meeting the workforce needs of the growing UAS industry. Sinclair is considered one of the leaders in the industry.

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Sinclair previously served as an affiliate member of ASSURE beginning in 2015.

Now that the college is elevated, it can lead projects and expand its contributions, Johnson said.

Andrew Shepherd, executive director and chief scientist for UAS at Sinclair College, said the elevation in status means the college may also be able to bring in some outside partners and help students join in research projects that give them more experience and introductions into the industry.

“Once it’s done, you know you’re gonna see a multibillion-dollar a year industry that we’ve seen growing continue to expand,” Shepherd said.

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Stephen P. Luxion, a retired colonel and the ASSURE Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for UAS executive director, said the promotion of Sinclair from an affiliate to a core member is a recognition of tremendous effort from the college.

He noted Sinclair’s role in the region after NCR left in 2009, creating a new workforce base around supporting unmanned aircraft aviation. At that time, the city and the region started looking into what new industries could be brought into the region.

“We have all these great outcomes, but it takes a community, and this community has stepped up and really done absolutely amazing things,” Luxion said.

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