In 2006, UND was named as a Department of Defense Center of Excellence for UAV Education, now called The Center for UAS Research, Education and Training. UND researchers teaming in The Center for UAS Research, Education and Training represent the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, the School of Engineering and Mines, the Northern Plains Center for Behavioral Research, and the Center for Innovation. The Center for UAS Research, Education and Training designation provided a vehicle for convenient collaboration with Grand Forks AFB and the Fargo Air National Guard, recently designated UAV bases. UND has also been invited to collaborate in UAV research and development with several private sector partners including Lockheed Martin, Frasca International, Inc., and Alion Science and Technology. In addition, UND Aerospace was already collaborating with the FAA Center of Excellence for General Aviation Research (CGAR) on integrating UAVs into the national airspace system; and with Mayo Clinic for a Flight Medicine Residency incorporating UAV training.
The researchers involved in these cross-campus collaborations have a history of working together over the past 15 years in federally-supported projects, including Department of Defense-funded human factors research, National Institutes of Health-funded human factors research, and NASA-funded airborne sensor development and flight training. These campus investigators, along with the Center for Innovation, are working together to foster economic development in UAVs and simulation applications. Because of this wide array of existing research expertise, UND was poised to assume a leadership role within the U.S. and throughout the world as a Center of Excellence in UAV and simulation applications.
As UAVs revolutionize the aviation industry, the opportunity exists right now for creating new aviation industry markets. The goal of this Center of Excellence is to commercialize UAVs for a vast application in the private sector, creating highly skilled and highly paid professional positions throughout North Dakota. Partnering with the Center for Innovation, The Center for UAS Research, Education and Training is positioned to introduce newly discovered technologies directly into the marketplace via partnerships with entrepreneurial companies in the Grand Forks area.