A Comparative Analysis of UAS Crewmember Collegiate Curricula


This research was a comparative analysis of undergraduate degree-granting collegiate curricula for unmanned aircraft system (UAS) crewmembers. To keep up with the civil and public-use UAS industry demand for competent unmanned aircraft crewmembers, collegiate curricula are being developed at a rapid pace. However, the absence of Federal Aviation Regulations for certification requirements of crewmembers of any UAS greater than 55 pounds, leads to concerns regarding the standardization of unmanned aviation crewmember curricula. Curricula are com­prised of educational goals, educational experiences to meet those goals, how these educational experiences are organized, and how these goals are verified. This research focused on a comparative analysis of what academic top­ics are taught at 18 colleges offering Bachelor or Associate of Science degrees. All but four of the colleges required some sort of manned pilot certification, all offered hands-on training with sUAS or a simulator; however, two did not have any UAS-specific academic topics. Overall the largest relative variation was found in the UAS-specific topics, as measured by the coefficient of variation between topic-required credit hours. This variation raises concerns regarding student employability, matriculation, and workforce stability. Further research is recommended after the Federal Aviation Administration promulgates regulations for >55-pound UAS crewmember certification, using a larger sample set of colleges with more detailed course content descriptions.

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