MVCC awarded a $557,487 grant from the National Science Foundation | MVCC | Mohawk Valley Community College
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MVCC awarded a $557,487 grant from the National Science Foundation

May 22, 2018

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Mohawk Valley Community College was awarded a $557,487 grant from the National Science Foundation to support a project through which MVCC will develop a series of microcredentials to increase the number of skilled technicians in the unoccupied aerial systems (UAS) industry to address local workforce needs.

“This timely project addresses the imminent, crucially important UAS workforce demands of the nation – demands that are foreshadowed by the current industry needs of the Mohawk Valley region of Upstate New York,” said Timothy Thomas, associate dean of the Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Applied Technologies Department at MVCC. “Our region has become a national hub of drone technology research and development and, as such, we are observing an emerging need for UAS technicians with a specialized set of skills for working with remotely piloted systems.”

Over the next three years, the College will develop and implement five microcredentials that consist of four courses each, providing students with highly specialized, specific skills without requiring completion of a full degree: UAS Components, UAS Fabrication, UAS Operations, UAS Electronics, and UAS Data Analysis. MVCC also will use the grant money to launch two new degree programs: associate in applied science degrees in UAS Fabrication and UAS Electronics by innovating ways to merge the microcredentials into comprehensive and coherent packages.

“The purpose of our NSF project is to create a flexible workforce development platform that utilizes microcredentials that ladder from a stand-alone credential to a degree program to support the emerging UAS industries,” Thomas said. “Flexibility is key. An existing electrical repair technician may only need a short-term course on the unique electronic systems of drones, while a career-changing engineer may need a comprehensive two-year degree that covers all UAS components, functionalities, and similar elements.”

The grant also will allow the College to purchase new equipment, including a microdrone; sensor packages that will enable agricultural and infrastructure inspection; and remote-sensing technology that emits light pulses, LIDAR. This equipment, supplemented by existing cutting-edge UAS technology owned by the College, will help students as they prepare for UAS careers in emergency services, inspections, and in the agricultural and consumer electronics industries.

For more information on MVCC’s current Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems degree program, visit

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