UNCW Seahawks soaring to new heights thanks to new FAA drone program partnership

Uncw Drones
UNCW Professor Dr. Narcisa Pricope flying a drone (Photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Seahawks are soaring to new heights thanks to a new partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Dr. Narcisa Pricope has been teaching drone classes at UNCW since 2017 as a part of the Earth and Ocean Sciences Program. The university is now a part of the FAA Unmanned Aircrafts Systems Collegiate Training Initiative led by Pricope.

“They’re not going to only be taught how to use the drones, collect the data, the end. They’ll be trained on what to do with that data. How to integrate it with [Geographic Information System Mapping], with remote-sensing, or other database management and data visualization. It’s much more than drones,” Pricope said.

It’s a part of the Geospatial Intelligence Certificate that’s offered to students as well as members of the community.

The existing certificate is how UNCW qualified to be a part of this initiative. They already offer a certificate in drone technology that teaches several things like hands on flight practice, maintenance, and federal policies.

“They leave and they know not only how to put these things together, but for example, go and map an area,” Pricope said. “Take imagery, take video not only with the sort of simple cameras that you can see with your naked eye, but also with more advanced cameras that see beyond what we can see with our naked eyes.”

In the age of technology, data dominates every field. Drones can be used to collect data in agriculture, water quality, coastal mapping, and even search and rescue.

Dr. Pricope looks forward to expanding and encouraging diversity in the Geospatial field.

“Right now the FAA actually has estimated that less than five percent of their pilots that are FAA certified are women. I’m really interested in getting more girls out there and reaching out to K-12,” Pricope said. “Also getting a diverse pool of applicants at UNCW and folks using the technology.”

The university already has a Geospatial and Geography major and Geography minor. Pricope says they are now working to create an Unmanned Aircrafts Systems minor as well.

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