WYSO

Sinclair To Unveil New Drone Test Center

Aug 23, 2015

A retired Air Force drone is used in the classroom at Sinclair Community College.
Credit Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Sinclair Community College is unveiling its new drone test center in a Monday afternoon ribbon-cutting that coincides with a first-of-its-kind conference about unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

The renovated test center was funded with $4 million from the state and $1 million from Sinclair, and it’s meant to be used by drone entrepreneurs and educational groups from around the country. It includes manufacturing facilities and a new wind tunnel for UAS testing. Deb Norris is the VP of workforce development at Sinclair.

“This is an incredible week we’ve been waiting a long time for,” said Deb Norris, the VP of workforce development at Sinclair.  

The college recently created a drone degree program and will graduate its first class of six students this fall.

Andrew Shepherd is the head of the UAS program.

“Several of them have actually been hired in UAS positions as they’re still students,” he said, naming Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and local entrepreneurs as sources of opportunity for students. In the absence of comprehensive federal regulations of commercial unmanned systems, various Ohio institutions including Sinclair have been able to obtain permits for testing.

An academic summit on drones will also take place at Sinclair Monday, bringing together leaders from similar programs around the U.S. And all that is on the eve of the Ohio UAS conference in Dayton this Tuesday and Wednesday.

Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.