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Tue, Aug 13, 2013

Nevada Aggressively Pursues FAA UAV Test Site Designation

Makes Strong Showing At Global Unmanned Vehicle Systems Industry Tradeshow

Through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), the State of Nevada is promoting the state as the destination for the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry.  As part of this effort, Nevada will be robustly represented at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Unmanned Systems 2013 conference in Washington, D.C., this week.  The Nevada delegation will include participants from more than ten Nevada-headquartered companies, University of Nevada Reno (UNR), University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), the Desert Research Institute, and influencers from the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS).  The NIAS pavilion will showcase Nevada’s leadership in the industry by emphasizing Nevada’s unmanned systems manufacturing, testing and research.

“Our presence at AUVSI this year is paramount for positioning Nevada as the prime applicant for FAA site designation, and to place us squarely in the global market as the leader in this field,” said Tom Wilczek, Aerospace and Defense Industry Specialist for GOED.

The State of Nevada recently applied through the FAA to be designated as a UAS Test Site with assets in both the north and south of the State.  Additionally, the State has partnered with private industry and academia in Nevada to establish the curriculum necessary to create the UAS civilian workforce of the future in Nevada – most notably, through the support of unmanned systems educational programs that would be established from the middle school level all the way to college; the Clark County School District, UNR, and UNLV are currently working with the State on program development.

Kam K. Leang, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, points out that the school plans to launch a minor-degree program in UAS in January 2014.  "The goal of the university is to provide unique training and workforce development opportunities for our students to help them tackle emerging challenges in the UAS industry.   With this in mind, our new minor in UAS offered through the College of Engineering will be open to mechanical, electrical, and computer science engineering students.  Classes would include robotics, control systems, sensing and instrumentation, fluid and air dynamics, and artificial intelligence -- things that UAS employers would want graduates to know."

“Nevada has an amazing depth of experience and knowledge base at our two universities and DRI in support of unmanned systems and affiliated technologies,” said Dr. Stephen G. Wells, President of DRI. “Combined with the K-12 outreach component of this new initiative and these emerging industry relationships this is an amazing opportunity to leverage our intellectual capabilities and physical space for economic development.”

Thomas Piechota, Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas highlights that supporting the UAS industry is very much in line with the university focus on aligning research and education programs with key economic development sectors. “UNLV is listening to what the industry needs for testing, training, and R&D. Any new minor and/or certificate programs will be cross-disciplinary including key technical and policy related areas. This builds off of ongoing efforts from faculty and students including testing UAVs at the Nevada National Security Site.”

Through sponsorship from GOED, The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems was created as a non-profit organization comprised of leaders from industry, government, academia and the military who will work together to promote the unmanned systems industry in Nevada.  Initial NIAS work has involved securing key partnerships and building educational and training programs with school systems and universities in the State.

Further, GOED recently announced that the Province of Alberta, Canada has joined with Nevada to establish a Memorandum of Understanding designed to further collaborative efforts in the areas of research, education, and economic development opportunities in the UAS industry.



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