We talk with faculty members from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University about their unmanned systems degree programs. Embry-Riddle Worldwide’s College of Aeronautics currently offers a Master of Science in Unmanned Systems, a Bachelor of Science in Unmanned Systems Applications, and an undergraduate minor in Unmanned Aerial Systems.
We talk about how programs are developed, the types of programs offered, the value they provide to students, and the opportunities available in this emerging industry. Embry-Riddle actively works to bring UAS awareness to the aviation community with participation at events like AirVenture Oshkosh and the Reno Air Races.
For a detailed look at the career opportunities, see the Embry-Riddle study, ERAU-Worldwide Unmanned System Related Career Opportunities: 2015 [PDF].
Faculty from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide
Dr. Ken Witcher is the dean of the College of Aeronautics. In this role, Ken leads a team of more than 700 active faculty members who support more than 14,000 students enrolled in 15 degree programs. Witcher’s aviation experience includes 20 years of service in the United States Air Force. During this time, he served as superintendent of an operational test and evaluation squadron and field training detachment chief for F-15, F-16, F-22, H-60, A-10, MQ-1, and MQ-9 aircraft and supporting systems. He also served as a team member of the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, Thunderbirds. Witcher was an appointed member of the Nevada UAS test site selection panel and previously served as Chair of the Nevada Aerospace and Defense Sector Council reporting directly to the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board. Reach Dr. Witcher at Kenneth.firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Thirtyacre is an assistant professor and chair of unmanned flight operations in the College of Aeronautics. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, master’s degree in aerospace science, and is currently a doctoral student in aviation at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus. Thirtyacre recently retired from the U.S. Air Force with 27 years of duty in the fighter community and over 3,500 hours in fighter aircraft. He spent the last 17 years of his career at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and served as an operational test pilot and director of advanced programs at the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center. In this role, he was the point person for advanced program operational planning; and the integration of air, space, and cyberspace domains with fifth-generation aircraft, unmanned systems, national capabilities, and other Department of Defense assets. Additionally, he is a multi-engine commercial pilot and certified flight instructor – instrument. Reach David Thirtyacre at email@example.com.
Stefan Kleinke is an assistant professor and program chair for the Bachelor of Science in Unmanned Systems Application (BSUSA) degree program in the College of Aeronautics. Stefan earned a Master of Aeronautical Science degree from Embry-Riddle Worldwide in 2010 and is a military aviation veteran with 15 years and 3,000 total flying hours experience as pilot and instructor on Tornado and T-38 jet aircraft. In this role, he was heavily involved in student and instructor training, standardization and evaluation, and aspects of air traffic control and airfield management. He also holds civilian qualifications that include Airline Transport Pilot License, Commercial Pilot License for helicopter and seaplane, Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic and Aircraft Electrical Technician certifications, as well as FCC GMDSS Radio Operator and Maintainer license with Ship Radar Endorsement. Reach Stefan Kleinke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video of the Week
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich recently established a new world flight endurance record with an 81-hour continuous solar-powered and autonomous flight. The 6.8kg aircraft is called the AtlantikSolar 2 UAV. This demonstrator flight is a precursor to an Atlantic Ocean crossing next year.