Become an Unmanned Pilot

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Bachelor's degree
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Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Kansas State Polytechnic

As the unmanned aircraft systems industry continues to break new ground, Kansas State Polytechnic is at the forefront of this revolution. We understand the importance of providing students with research opportunities, cutting edge technology and equipment, and an exclusive education. That’s why we built one of the largest enclosed UAS flight facilities in the nation and were awarded the country’s first approval to provide commercial flight training. Our program offers two bachelor’s degree options – one in flight and operations and another in design and integration – as well as a UAS minor.

UAS - Flight Ops

A Program of Firsts

Kansas State Polytechnic has a reputation in the UAS industry as a leader and innovator. In the past year alone, our drone program was awarded a series of firsts with the FAA: the first entity in the nation to receive statewide flying access; a member of the first FAA Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems; and the first entity in the country approved for commercial flight training.

Hands-on Flight Training

To become a proficient, responsible and highly sought after UAS pilot, your flight training cannot occur online or come from a textbook. In our UAS program, students log flight hours by piloting a diverse fleet of unmanned aircraft through our structured multirotor and fixed-wing training courses. After completion, students act as an instructor in the entry-level flight classes.

Setting the Industry Standard

Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program has been selected to contribute to numerous research projects that set the standard in rules and regulations, applications and technology within the industry. As a student, you have the opportunity to work side-by-side with professors for entities like the Bureau of Land Management, the FAA and Westar Energy in which your input will influence the future of UAS integration into the National Airspace.

One-of-a-kind Flight Facility

Kansas State Polytechnic has pioneered how a flight facility should function for unmanned aircraft. Roughly the size of a football field, the UAS Pavilion, as it is called, is contained but not completely closed off to outdoor elements. Constructed of fabricated netting panels on all sides and across the top, the facility does not block GPS signals and allows flight missions to be conducted in various weather conditions.

Travis Balthazor

“As an alumnus of this campus and a former student and now senior pilot of the UAS program, I have seen firsthand how Kansas State Polytechnic pioneered UAS education and has developed into a national leader within UAS academics, research and industry. Any student who wants a future in UAS or drones should enroll in this program because it provides hands-on building and live flight training with one of the largest and most diverse UAS fleets in academia. Students will receive an unparalleled experience here that will make them stand out from the rest.”

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Jason Klenklen

Having a premier UAS university in our backyard has been an advantage in starting our UAV program. The information that we are able to glean from K-State staff is actual, firsthand knowledge of facts from within the industry. The ability to have open conversations with industrial leaders has proven to be an advantage to Westar. The proximity of the campus and the ability to utilize their facilities and expertise allows us to capitalize on emerging procedures and technologies. Our partnership with K-State Polytechnic allows us to remain local while supporting the advancement of UAS technologies within the energy industry.

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Trevor Witt

Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program allows me to merge my three loves of building, robotics and aviation. It takes me out of the classroom and into our UAS laboratory where I work alongside my professors on groundbreaking research projects with entities like the Bureau of Land Management and Westar Energy. I’ve traveled to Washington D.C. and Atlanta, speaking on behalf of the program at major conferences. This is the perfect place to get the education and experience necessary to be a professional in the UAS industry.

Kendy Edmonds

As part of the UAS program, students are required to take flights labs where we build hours training to become proficient visual observers, external pilots and air vehicle operators. We learn to fly both multirotor and fixed-wing aircraft and even earn certifications to instruct other students. This kind of interactive education is essential to preparing me for the industry and gives me a significant advantage because K-State is one of the only universities in the country with this type of hands-on learning.