If you want to study drones in college, consider heading to one of these seven universities. A handful of major universities recently received a combined $4.4 million in ASSURE grant funding to contribute to their drone research, education and training efforts.
ASSURE grant funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in an effort to promote colleges to do research and education around the skies — which in turn should benefit the FAA.
“This funding and our ongoing partnerships with these universities will allow the FAA to safely integrate the airspace that has a growing number of diverse aircraft users,” said FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen in a prepared statement.
The seven universities collecting the cash through this latest round of ASSURE grant funding are:
- University of North Dakota
- University of Kansas
- Drexel University
- The Ohio State University
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Mississippi State University
- Oregon State University
Two of those schools, University of North Dakota and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, also participate in the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Collegiate Training Initiative. And many of these schools have received significant funding from the FAA in the past as well (the FAA started issuing ASSURE grant funding back in 2020).
This is actually the second round of Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) grants doled out this fiscal year, brings the total of FAA drone research funding to 15 grants valued at $18.3 million for Fiscal Year 2022 thus far.
For this round, the FAA specified that drone research should focus on three areas: electromagnetic compatibility, detect and avoid classifications, and cybersecurity oversight. Past topics have included topics like using drones for disaster preparedness and response, validation of ASTM Remote ID Standards, turbulence testing and Urban Air Mobility safety standards and aircraft certification.
The FAA released specifics on what money is going where:
Research on Drone Electromagnetic Compatibility
Purpose: To assess the risks, identify drone design vulnerabilities, identify material and procedural mitigations, and propose guidance for safer electromagnetic compatibility with emitted and static fields.
Funding granted to:
- University of North Dakota $325,042
- University of Kansas $325,000
- Drexel University $325,830
Investigate Detect and Avoid Track Classification and Filtering
Purpose: To propose metrics, guidance, and test methods to assess the effects of false or misleading information on detect and avoid capabilities, intended to support Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations.
Funding granted to:
- The Ohio State University $732,441
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University $371,000
- Mississippi State University $330,000
- University of North Dakota $80,000
Illustrate the Need for UAS Cybersecurity Oversight and Risk Management
Purpose: To address UAS Cybersecurity Oversight and Risk Management around the National Airspace System and other FAA systems.
Funding granted to:
- University of Kansas $651,982
- Oregon State University $609,226
- Drexel University $608,783
The funding comes from the FAA’s ASSURE Center of Excellence, short for the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE). It was set up in hopes that universities would be able to research how to safely grow and integrate drones into the nation’s airspace, while also educating the next generation of aviation workers.
It signals that the FAA continues to lean into the drone industry as a likely growth area for airspace. Currently there are more than 800,000 known recreational and commercial drones are in the active drone fleet, according to the FAA. The FAA added that it expect that number to grow.