They don’t have a football team yet, and their mascot might as well be a triangular-shaped drone, like the white flying wing featured in the school’s maroon-and-gray logo.
But Unmanned Vehicle University, or UVU as President Jerry LeMieux calls it, has a faculty, students and an online curriculum that offers unmanned systems engineering classes, and master’s degrees and doctorates.
And they’re heading into fall classes with hopes of soon publishing their first textbook and building a campus in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
“We’re rolling ahead here,” LeMieux, a retired Air Force colonel and former Delta Air Lines pilot, said in a telephone interview this week.
“You can’t find another school like this on the planet.”
While training unmanned vehicle pilots and operators is part of the program, he said the university’s main focus is to build leaders in the surging drone industry.
It’s one that Maj. Gen. James O. Poss, assistant deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at Air Force Headquarters, predicts will produce profitable commercial applications.
At last month’s drone conference in Las Vegas, Poss said, “Reasonable men can differ over whether the commercial application of this is going to be in the hundreds of billions (of dollars) with a B or a few trillions with a T. But it’s going to be huge.”
That’s what LeMieux is banking on.
“We’re trying to create unmanned systems engineers for the UVs of the future,” LeMieux, 55, said. “When they leave school, they can go to a UV company and manage the program.”
Unmanned vehicles are not limited to drones that fly. They include other remote-controlled vehicles that roll across land or cruise on or in lakes, rivers and oceans.
After spending a year planning UVU and clearing accreditation hurdles, LeMieux opened its online doors in February.
“There are no books on any of these courses,” he said. “We are starting to publish some of the books. For the first book, each faculty member wrote a chapter.”
Currently, the faculty consists of about 30 experts who are located around the world and hold doctorates in engineering.
About 50 students have enrolled in courses that have titles such as “UAVs and Firefighting” and “Unmanned Autonomy and Swarming Executive Course.”
The courses range in price from $1,600 for a degree course to $1,000 for an eight-week executive course.
A group course on the topic of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, with a minimum of 15 students, costs $1,500 per person.
Recently, LeMieux began offering two-hour, prerecorded classes for $100 each. A class includes two topics, such as UAV reliability and human factors, and UAV basic parts.
“If you’re not sure what you want to go into but want to learn fundamentals, try out a class,” he said.
Contact reporter Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308.FOR MORE INFORMATION