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CAREER VOICES


TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY– CORPUS CHRISTI


BUILDING A PIPELINE IN UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS F


our years after Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi stood up its new Research, Commercialization, and Outreach division, the fledgling unit has spread its wings, flying high on Unmanned Aircraft Systems.


With total national economic benefits from model airplanes and drones estimated to grow by more than $82.1 billion between 2015 and 2025, the island university’s leadership is banking on a sure future.


Still, extreme drone crashes like Enrique Iglesias slicing his fingers as he tried to catch a drone at an open air concert this May, or the civilian-operated drone that crashed on the White House lawn earlier in the year, indicate just how challenging the introduction of Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the national air space is for both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aviation community.


To help the FAA safely integrate Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the national air space, the agency started research into issues such as system safety and data gathering, command, and control with a number of public institutions at designated test sites dotted around the country.


Currently, there are six Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) research and test sites in the United States. They are located in Texas, Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, Virginia, and New York. These six test applications help the Federal Aviation Administration meet its UAS research needs.


Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence The Texas FAA test site is operated by the Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence & Innovation headquartered at A&M–Corpus Christi.


“We are the only one of the six test sites that is being led by a Hispanic-serving institution,” noted Dr. Luis Cifuentes, vice president for Research, Commercialization and Outreach at A&M–Corpus Christi and interim executive director of Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center.


Dr. Luis Cifuentes, VP, Research, Commercialization and Outreach, Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, Interim Executive Director, Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center


“Having a program like this as we build an engineering program, which is going to have a significant number of Hispanic students attending, is a draw. It’s exciting and builds a sense of pride


amongst our students,” Cifuentes said on a teleconference call in June.


UAS Builds a Sense of Pride amongst Students Daniel Mendez has been an airworthiness and standardization engineer with Camber Corp. since January 2015. His job involves looking at some of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules for registering aircraft and providing clearance to use unmanned aircraft in the national air space. He also helps clients with Certificates of Authorization to use the national air space in a specific area.


www.hispanicengineer.com HISPANIC ENGINEER & Information Technology | Fall 2015 13


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