UAV updateUniversity offers unmanned drone program to students

Published 8 February 2011

Indiana State University (ISU) has announced that it is offering an “unmanned systems” program to its students; the program is one of the few in the nation that trains students in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS); ISU hopes to expand the program to include local and state agencies; ISU is already working with the local police department to conduct search and rescue exercises; other uses include civilian agricultural mapping

University of Indiana's Terre Haute campus // Source:

Indiana State University (ISU) has announced that it is now offering an “unmanned systems” program to its students.

Classes will train students in the use of unmanned vehicles and school officials hope to expand the program include local and state agencies.

Last month representatives of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) and local law enforcement agencies visited ISU to learn more about the program. Joe Wainscott, the executive director of IDHS, said, “We’re really excited to see the program they have developed and the capabilities they have and to figure out how they might be integrated into our operations.”

ISU officials demonstrated several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) including a Draganflyer X6, a small remote controlled helicopter with video cameras attached, as well as an automated fixed wing craft with GPS.

In addition, ISU showcased its Recon Scout, a small camera attached to two wheels that looks like a dumbbell.

Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse was excited about the potential of the Recon Scout for law enforcement purposes.

For instance in an active shooter or hostage situation, the Recon Scout could be thrown inside to give officers an idea of what is occurring. “It makes our job a little safer,” he said.

In addition to providing training for local agencies, ISU plans to offer the use of its UAVs.

The university will team up with the police department in April as part of a joint search and rescue exercise. Its UAVs could assist with locating lost children, bodies, or missing persons across vast terrain or in areas that are difficult to access, like wooded areas.

“There are many different aspects we could use that for in law enforcement,” Plasse said.

The program also has civilian uses. ISU plans to provide an agricultural group with infrared maps of farm fields to help detect areas where moisture is concentrated to boost production.

ISU is one of the few universities in the country that offers a program specializing in unmanned aerial systems.

Currently the unmanned systems operations program is a minor, but ISU hopes to expand it into a bachelor’s degree and a full-fledged master’s program.

The unmanned program is part of its Center for Crisis Leadership and Homeland Security, which was created last June.