The Federal Aviation Administration estimates as many as 7,500 commercial drones could be flying in national airspace within a few years, and has until 2015 to present a plan for safely integrating drones into U.S. airspace.
At least two Ohio schools — Sinclair Community College and Kent State University — are training students for jobs using the technology. Like the University of North Dakota, Kansas State University and others around the country, the Ohio schools aren’t waiting for the go-ahead to ready students for employment in the industry.
“Our job is to be sure we are preparing the workforce to meet the jobs that are coming,” said Deb Norris, vice president of workforce development and corporate services at Sinclair.
Concerns over privacy and security issues still pose some potential hurdles regarding drones, but Ohio schools expect to see even more educational opportunities going forward.
“There are all kinds of opportunities with this technology,” said John Duncan, an assistant professor of aeronautics at Kent State, in northeastern Ohio.
The Ohio Board of Regents said Sinclair and Kent State are the only Ohio schools known to have formal degrees or certificate programs in unmanned aerial systems, but schools including the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University and Wright State University are heavily engaged in drone research.