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UND launches UAS business class

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It was the first university to offer a degree in unmanned aircraft systems operations, so it only makes sense that the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks also offers the first UAS business course, says Matt Dunlevy, instructor of UND’s UAS in Business class and president and CEO of SkySkopes, a Grand Forks UAS company.

The course teaches the business side of the unmanned aerial systems industry, while also preparing students to take the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 test to fly commercial unmanned aircraft. “Business opportunities are the most important part of the UAS industry,” Dunlevy says.

Dunlevy’s co-instructor is Rick Thomas, program manager for Northrop Grumman in Grand Forks. Dunlevy says the class style depends on who is teaching that day — Thomas “commands the rapt attention of the students,” while Dunlevy’s style is a bit more interactive and laid back. They discuss current events in the UAS world, show videos of what to do and what not to do, and usually have guest speakers from different parts of the industry.

The course is open to any level of student in any major who is enrolled at UND. While some of the students in this fall semester class are UAS majors, others are marketing, business or entrepreneurship majors. “It’s definitely an interdisciplinary course,” Dunlevy says. The course is also separate from the UAS department, and is listed in the entrepreneurship course catalog.

The course is split into four phases, starting with training and memorization of the Part 107 handbook so students can take that test to fly commercially. They will also view UASs in action, and will eventually fly the aircrafts themselves. Finally, they will start a UAS business, create a business plan and research commercial UAS businesses. That project will wrap up with a “shark tank,” in which students will present their businesses to a panel of expert judges, Dunlevy says.

While the class is currently only scheduled for this fall semester, Dunlevy says it’s “off to a good start,” and is hopeful it will be offered every semester. “It’s always great to see UND taking the next step in an industry where they can be a leader,” Dunlevy says.

Story written by Kayla Prasek and published by Prairie Business

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