Huntsville, Alabama — Alabama A&M University officially joined a group of premier institutions of higher education involved in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology during a special memorandum of understanding signing ceremony held October 9. See Photos.
The MOU between the Army’s Project Office for Unmanned Aircraft Systems and AAMU formalizes an agreement that is expected to promote both organizations. The Army will gain access to some of higher learning’s top engineering talent and the independent research needed to advance unmanned aerial vehicle technology and usage. And, according to Dr. Chance Glenn, Sr., AAMU’s new dean of the College of Engineering, Technology and Physical Sciences, students will benefit in the areas of hands-on student projects, collaborative research and future employment possibilities.
"This relationship will launch and transform the lives of many of our students," said Glenn, speaking to an audience of students and UAS staffers who graduated from AAMU. "It will take our innovation and discussions to another dimension."
Glenn earlier noted that numerous collaborative research projects could result from the ability to utilize the UAS along with its sensors. Traffic patterns, he said, could be analyzed by our civil engineering students by taking advantage of the UAS's imaging capabilities.
AAMU now join Middle Tennessee State University, as well as future partners Mississippi State University and Auburn University, as the UAS Project Office aims to refocus its perspective on defense and the way it has traditionally operated by adding more civil applications for UAS.
COL Timothy Baxter, project manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Redstone Arsenal (Ala.), said the MOU will benefit the Army, University and nation.
The use of unmanned aircraft in non-conflict situations is on the rise. The aircraft and onboard sensor payloads can be used in domestic disaster response; humanitarian relief efforts; environmental, geological, agricultural studies and law-enforcement initiatives.
Additionally, other faculty members in other disciplines see new possibilities, owing to the agreement. For instance, AAMU transportation expert Jacob Oluwoye see likely inroads in the area of transportation technology, along with collaborative efforts involving civil engineering and community/regional planning in the application of photogrametry to intelligent transportation systems.
"UAVs will play an important role in future intelligent transportation systems, especially for rural roads which lack sensors," says Oluwoye.
AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr., described the MOU between AAMU and UAS as “the type of collaborative agreement that postures our engineering students for future success through competitiveness.”
- Jerome Saintjones