2022-2023 Catalog 
    Feb 25, 2024  
2022-2023 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

aUAS Operations Technician Technical Studies, AAS

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Pathways


Develop a highly trained and skilled drone-operator workforce to support the emerging drone industry in the counties served by Mountain Empire Community College by providing industry driven and developed Unmanned System’s training targeted directly toward the nascent industry adopters: Police, EMS, Agriculture, Infrastructure Inspection, Emergency Response, Real Estate, Tourism/Videography, and Delivery.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will be able to:

  1. Obtain FAA Remote Pilot Certification
  2. Properly apply FAA operations and safety regulations to UAS Ops
  3. Choose proper UAS for a specific task/mission/data collection
  4. Build, configure, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair small Unmanned Systems
  5. Properly inspect UAS and Ground Systems/Radios before flight
  6. Plan and carry out safe and successful live flight UMS missions
  7. Plan and carry out safe and successful autonomous UMS missions
  8. Supervise a UMS flight crew in accomplishing a mission
  9. Understand controlled airspace and obtain the necessary authorization to fly there
  10. Understand weather and its effects on flight
  11. Choose, mount, and configure the proper sensor(s) for mission data collection and retrieval
  12. Understand and implement data security for all customer data
  13. Process collected data to produce meaningful reports for customers
  14. Properly inspect UAS and Ground Systems/Radios after mission
  15. Maintain all flight and maintenance logs for UMS equipment

Employment Opportunities

By 2021 the FAA estimates there could be as many as 1.6 million small drones in commercial use. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a recent speech at AUVSI Xponential Dallas Texas, “The only limitation seems to be: How quickly we - all of us, across the industry - can make it happen, safely.” The MECC region boasts 94 aviation related companies focusing on aerospace product, manufacturing, air transportation, and aviation support activities located within 100 miles; 32 within 50 miles; and three companies within 25 miles of Wise County. Currently Glassdoor (www.glassdoor.com) lists 1056 open jobs for UAV pilots. The U.S. Military (all branches) are currently in desperate need of qualified UAV pilots, all branches are reporting 100’s of open positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 11% - 20% growth each year for the next 10 years. The FAA estimates small, hobbyist UAS purchases may grow from 1.9 million in 2016 to as many as 4.3 million by 2020. Sales of UAS for commercial purposes are expected to grow from 600,000 in 2016 to 2.7 million by 2020. Combined total hobbyist and commercial UAS sales are expected to rise from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020. Industries already being transformed by drone piloting skills:

  • Utilities: Using drones to inspect power lines, telephone towers and wind turbines without needing to employ several people, cranes and cherry pickers.
  • Mining: Drones are already commonplace and are used to measure stock piles of minerals in hours, rather than days. Also used for surveying work and environmental impact research.
  • Fast Food Delivery: Big companies such as Domino’s Pizza will be looking to invest in drones for pizza delivery in the future.
  • Package Delivery: Australia Post and Amazon are already investing in drone technology as a way of delivering packages.
  • Trades: Being able to inspect things from a height, such as a solar panel output, leaking roofs and guttering.
  • Real Estate: Panoramic aerial footage of properties to show investors new opportunities or create marketing videos.
  • Wedding photography: Aerial videography of weddings is set to become the next big thing and will allow couples to capture diverse and creative footage of their special day.

Program Requirements

An academic advisor will review your preparation in Mathematics and English with you. You’ll be guided to appropriate preliminary coursework to give you the greatest chance of success in this program.

Additional Information

Virginia is gifted with a unique geography that provides extensive, open, and diverse training and testing locations that enable manufacturers and developers to demonstrate proof-of-concepts, acquire the data needed for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifications and approvals, and to push the envelope of automated vehicles capabilities in a controlled, data-focused method. Coupled with the advanced educational opportunities targeted to the UMS industry and boasting one of only seven FAA designated test sites in the nation through the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) at Virginia Tech, Virginia’s students, current and future workforce, can be well-trained and capable of taking on the biggest challenges in the Unmanned Systems field

For Further Information, Contact:

Fred Coeburn



Wes Mullins, Assistant Dean



Program of Study

Total Program Credits: 66/67

Notes and Additional Curriculum Options

Course substitutions may be available. Please see an advisor for more information.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Pathways