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University-based drone academy opens in UAE

The first university-based drone academy in the UAE has recently been inaugurated by the American University of Sharjah.

Based in AUS, the AUS-Exponent Drone Academy is established in conjunction with Exponent Technology Services, ETS.

The academy will have an active research and development drone laboratory serving as a test-bed for innovative drone based research projects.

Present at the launch held at the College of Engineering were Asam Khan, CEO, Exponent Technology Services; Michael Rudolph, Head of Airspace Safety Section, Aviation and Airports Safety Department, Civil Aviation, Dubai; Ayhan Kamil, Financial and Commercial Manager, ETS; Dr. Richard T. Schoephoerster, Dean, College of Engineering; and other AUS officials.

“It’s been a long road but a very fruitful one,” said Khan. “We’ve put together a couple of initiatives with AUS, starting with the Drone Lab and now culminating with the Drone Academy. This will be the first of many initiatives we hope to launch with the university, and we’re looking forward to building a very strong partnership with AUS.”

For the first year, the training will be conducted jointly by AUS and Exponent staff using Exponent’s licensed course materials. Ground school and simulator training will be run by AUS staff while Exponent will provide flight training. The courses will run from between one day to three weeks depending on the certified level of proficiency and the type of drone platform.

Dr. Schoephoerster said, “This is another exciting day for AUS. We are very happy to get this drone academy off the ground. It’s going to be very important for the entire region in terms of regulating the drone space here, and we are very happy to be working with our partners at ETS and the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority on this.”

The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority will recognise the AUS-Exponent Certificate for drone pilot training, and anyone with a certificate from the academy can apply for a corresponding category permits on the hobbyist or commercial level.

Based on the enthusiastic response received, the first batch will commence training by the end of April 2018.

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