Drone Experts to Offer UAS Training Course at UM May 22-26

April 19, 2017

MISSOULA – The University of Montana Autonomous Aerial Systems Office and Sands Unmanned Aviation Training of Kalispell will team up to offer a Basic Unmanned Aviation Systems Training Course next month.

Held on the UM campus May 22-26, the intensive training provides ground instruction, hands-on flight instruction with small quadcopters, preparation for FAA licensing, and an overview of GIS and sensor applications.

Taught by Justin Sands and Hovig Yaralian of SUAT and Kevin McManigal of UM’s Department of Geography, the training aims to convert people with little to no UAS – or unmanned aviation system – experience into beginner pilots who understand and operate in a safe and productive manner.

“As part of our Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative funding, we are partnering with experienced UAS pilots and trainers to offer a set of courses through UM,” said Jaylene Naylor, assistant director of UM’s AASO. “Justin and Hovig have an incredible amount of UAS and manned aircraft experience. AASO has already collaborated with them on several research projects, including weather monitoring.”

Sands is a private pilot with more than 350 manned flight hours and 1,500 hours of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) flight time. He has extensive experience in the design, building and flight testing of UAS systems, including the Sandstorm UAV that he uses in training MQ-9 Predator pilots for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Yaralian earned his Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering at Cal Poly Pomona and has worked with Sands as a pilot and flight test engineer. He also holds a private pilot license and has more than 500 hours of sUAS flight time. In addition, he has worked as a test pilot and integration engineer with NASA Dryden, JPL and Northrup Grumman.

McManigal is a lecturer in cartography and geographic information systems at UM and has helped AASO with UAS demonstrations and trainings for several UM departments, including journalism and geography.

SUAT plans to offer an advanced course at their runway-equipped Kalispell facility, which will allow students to fly larger drones and get more hands on experience with flight controllers. AASO also will coordinate with UM’s Department of Computer Science and Tesla Foundation for future sUAS offerings focusing on software and programming, as well as GIS.

According a 2013 report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the U.S. economic impact of UAS integration into the national airspace will grow to $82 billion between 2015 and 2025, with total job creation numbering over 100,000 positions.

“There are a multitude of reasons someone may want to consider UAS training,” Naylor said. “The skillset can lead to employment in precision agriculture, public safety and utilities inspections, to name a few fields.”

Registration for the Basic UAS Training Course is open to the public, and participants can earn two college credits. The course is being offered through UM’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Extended and Lifelong Learning. For more information or to register, call Naylor at 406-529-9174 or email jaylene.naylor@umontana.edu .

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Contact: Jaylene Naylor, assistant director, UM Autonomous Aerial Systems Office, 406-529-9174, jaylene.naylor@umontana.edu.