Student watches remote screens for UAS aircraft

North Dakota and the adjacent region is home to a growing cluster of UAS research and educational interests. Our universities and partnerships are helping to drive UAS development, training and flight as well as fostering an environment conducive to continuing industry expansion. 

There are two research universities with Centers of Excellence that support the growing UAS industry, along with two technical colleges that provide additional training programs and opportunities for workforce professionals.

In the region, you’ll find:


UND Aerospace

John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks is recognized worldwide as a leader in collegiate and contract aviation education. UND Aerospace researchers are rapidly developing the same level of expertise in UAS research, training and education.

UND offered the country's first bachelor's degree in unmanned aircraft systems operations and is planning to develop additional programs for its students.

UND has a proven track record of obtaining Certificates of Authorizations (COAs), allowing access to valuable airspace. A lease agreement with the Grand Forks Air Force Base allows UND to train on base with Predator Mission Aircrew Training Systems. UND is the first civilian operator of this technology in the world and has the nation's first UAS Research Compliance Committee.

UND's UAS program capitalizes on experience and expertise gained from over 40 years of manned aviation education, and includes the Center of Excellence for UAS Research, Education and Training, an invaluable resource for UAS advancement.


North Dakota State University (NDSU) is home to the Center for Computationally Assisted Science and Technology processing advanced computing expertise.

Northland Community and Technical College

Located just across the river in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, Northland Community and Technical College is a key UAS academic partner. Northland Community and Technical College is home to a UAS Maintenance Technician Program and an extensive Imagery Analysis Program. Both of these courses of study provide the workforce training and expertise necessary for continued UAS growth.

Lake Region

Lake Region State College is located 90 miles east of Grand Forks, ND, and offers a unique Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Agriculture, a field of study that uses UAS technology to improve crop yields.

As home of the Dakota Precision Ag Center, Lake Region has established the business connections critical for integrating UAS technologies into the curriculum. The college is also working closely with the University of North Dakota to incorporate the use of UAS technology into peace officer training and law enforcement programs.