Thursday, July 18, 2013

Do We Have a Drone Problem at Midwest Colleges and Universities?

During the April (2013) Days of Action Against Drones, people started to dig into the problem of how pervasive drone research, development, and training has become at institutions of higher learning across the United States. (See Call for "No Drones" at U.S. Colleges, Universities, and Research Institutions.)

In the preparation for the upcoming Midwest Action Against Drones (MAAD), I've suggested that we need to take a close look at what is happening at our Midwest colleges and universities. I'm concerned that our our Midwest schools are being drawn into the military-industrial complex with the promise of the "opportunity" to get in on the ground floor of the "drones revolution."

Do we really want the American heartland serving as the brain-trust for the U.S. global project of drone surveillance and killing?

As a start, below is a round-up of research, development, and training activity connected to drones at Midwest colleges and universities. I've indicated those schools that are land-grant universities. There appears to be a high concentration of drone work at land-grant universities.

The list below is just a sampling.  Discovery continues . . . .


University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, IL (a land-grant university)

Engineering at Illinois Students Enter Drone in National Challenge - "A team of Engineering at Illinois students, including six Aerospace Engineering undergraduates, have designed and built a small drone aircraft to participate in a national Unmanned-Aerial-Surveillance (UAS) competition."

(More at the UI-UC Aerospace Robotics and Control website.)


Indiana State University

ISU Drones Create 'World's Largest Video Game' - Indiana State University hopes to turn its unmanned aerial systems minor into a four-year bachelor's degree program.


Iowa State University - Ames, IA (a land-grant university)

ISU drones for peaceful uses only - Drones will one day dot Iowa’s skies, saving lives and improving the environment one unmanned flight at a time, dreamers at Iowa State University say.


Kansas State University (a land-grant university)

Drones flying in Kansas skies as well - "Kansas State University has about a dozen drones, ranging in weight from 2 pounds to just under 50 pounds, said Josh Brungardt, unmanned aircraft systems program director at K-State-Salina . . . . 'We specialize in civilian use of drones, not military use of drones,' he said.


Northwestern Michigan College

Drones in Michigan skies raise hopes, concerns - "[I]n Traverse City, students at Northwestern Michigan College can fly their unmanned aircraft in a small field outside the city where no manned vehicles are permitted to fly. The college’s FAA permit remains active."


University of Minnesota (a land-grant university)

University of Minnesota researchers demo AR.Drone controlled by thought - "Using the same brain-computer interface technique, [a team at the University of Minnesota] was able to successfully demonstrate full 3D control over an AR.Drone 1.0, using a video feed from its front-facing camera as a guide."


University of Missouri (a land-grant university)

Missouri Drone Journalism - "The Missouri Drone Journalism Program is a partnership between students at the Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Information Technology Program and NPR member station KBIA"


University of Nebraska-Lincoln (a land-grant university)

Drone Journalism Lab - "Links, thoughts and research into using drones, UAVs or remotely piloted vehicles for journalism at the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications."


University of North Dakota - Grand Forks, ND

UND Aerospace - "The Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research, Education and Training will provide a conduit between private industry and UAS researchers, promoting commercialization of new UAS-related products and services while bringing new UAS-related business ventures to North Dakota."


Ohio State University - Columbus, Ohio (a land-grant university)

OSU sees farming uses for drones - "The university this week put its inaugural drone prototype on public display for the first time at the Farm Science Review, an annual showcase of ag technology that runs through Thursday at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in Madison County."


South Dakota School of Mines - Rapid City, SD

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle team - "The unmanned aerial vehicle team was formed for several reasons. The primary reason, for at least the first few years, is to compete in and win the International Aerial Robotics Competition. We would also like to gain some real world experience that we can take to our jobs after graduation. Another important reason for the SDSM&T UAV team is to explore the frontier of aerial robotics. The team would like to someday develop some new technologies which will be used in both commercial and military UAV’s."


University of Wisconsin–Madison (a land-grant university)

UW Physics Garage - "This project will explore the limits of small drone (quadcopter, maple seed) observations for environmental and archeological survey and other applications."

Related posts

It is time now to turn to the dirty secret of American life and the primary dilemma of the antiwar movement: the military money that flows to EVERY Congressional district, and in particular the "good jobs" that members of Congress think they are protecting when they vote for ever-higher levels of military spending.

(See Drones, Permawar, and the Problem of "Good Jobs")

What are some of the forms that campus activism might take? Since Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has a contract to do drone research, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR], on May 1, sent a letter to Ronald J. Daniels, JHU president, and Dr. Ralph Semmel, director of the APL, seeking a meeting . . . .

(See Anti-Killer Drone Activists Seek Meeting with Johns Hopkins University President

Did you know there is an online resource FULL of materials to use in organizing your local activism against drones?

(See Organizer Manual on the NSDSW wiki)

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