ULM's Latest "Drone" Program

Unmanned Aircraft Systems program at ULM may change the future of Louisiana Agriculture.
MONROE -- "Drones" have hit media spotlight from Amazon Air Delivery to beer-copters. The technology is there, but when and where these drones can legally fly is now up to the FAA.

Paul Karlowitz is an aviation professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He spearheads a new program, preparing the students to fly the drone, formally known as the Unmanned Aircraft System.

Karlowitz says, "We just need to know the rules. They'll make it work. Technology has a way of just happening. If there is a need, it gets developed."

This is only one of eleven programs in the United States, and one of two in Louisiana.

Dominic Mercer, an aviation student says, "ULM is one of the only two in the state that can actually fly Unmanned Ariel Systems as a public entity. That's why I definitely wanted the experience. Not many students get that."

The class started in in the fall with only seven students and tripled it's registration to 21 this spring.

Elijah Sweat, another aviation students, calls the program fantastic. He says, "The level of tech that we're getting to in aviation is amazing."

The new "drone" technology will be beneficial first and foremost to agriculture, especially in Louisiana. All it takes it a small camera and the Unmanned Aircraft System to analyze an entire field of crops in just minutes. The camera takes infrared photos, showing exactly which parts of the farm need work.

An Economic Impact study shows that once implemented, the Unmanned Aircraft System, will benefit Louisiana's economy. It has the opportunity to boost spending and create jobs with high projected salaries.

The FAA has a five-year road-map to enable the drone into the National Airspace System.

Professor Karlowitz says the drone will be able to help many industries from farming, pipe-lining, retail, all the way to healthcare. He says, "You are only limited by your imagination."

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