Posted on Wednesday, October 22, 2014

workforcewed-newsquare2While Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are a hot topic in the national news, Eastern Shore Community College (ESCC) is busy planning for the workforce development need that this emerging industry will likely bring to their local economy. 

The FAA selected six congressionally-mandated test sites on December 30, 2013. One of these sites is the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s UAS test site program. Wallops Flight Facility is an integral part of this test site, placing ESCC in the UAS conversation.

With the goal in mind of identifying and understanding these workforce needs, ESCC, with financial support from the VCCS, hosted an Unmanned Aircraft System Technical Interchange in early October. What resulted from the event was larger than anticipated – a day dedicated to high level discussions between policy makers and top business and industry executives in the UAS Industry, with a focus on economic development.  And one thing is clear – Virginia wants to be at the forefront.

Carol Vaughn, reporter for The Eastern Shore News who attended the event, captured the pulse of the day’s discussions- restrictions on commercial uses of unmanned aerial vehicles-in her article Drones could mean money for Va. Shore.

“Eastern Shore Community College is grateful for the support of our business partners in the UAS industry that made the first UAS Technical Interchange such a success.  The overwhelming interest in this event demonstrates this economic development opportunity’s potential to impact the entire Commonwealth, and ESCC is thrilled that it is happening our backyard.  The College is committed to meeting the workforce development needs of the emerging UAS industry as it develops on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and this event was a great first step,” said Eddie Swain, Dean of Workforce Development Services at Eastern Shore Community College.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) recently put the total economic impact of UAVs within the first three years they are integrated into the national airspace in the United States at more than $13.6 billion, with more than 70,000 jobs created.

The impact on Virginia could be $342 million by 2025, according to the study.  Peter Bale, a recent past president of the international association and current president of the Eastern Shore Defense Alliance coordinated the event for ESCC.

The UAS conversation is far from over in Virginia. ESCC will continue to prepare for the curriculum that will come with advances to this industry in the area, from the potential for manufacturing to operations or maintenance and repair.  

ESCCDisplaywUAS (4)

ESCC highlights its own historic unmanned aircraft, an Aerosonde, the first unmanned aircraft to fly into a hurricane on September 16, 2005 (Hurricane Ophelia).'

Amanda Christopher

Amanda Christopher is a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of the DC metro area, Amanda worked in public relations for the American Red Cross before joining the Virginia Community College System as the Workforce Communications Coordinator.

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