Aims Community College Offers the First UAS Associate Degree in Colorado for Drone Pilots
GREELEY, CO – July 11, 2023 – Beginning this fall, Aims Community College offers an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Associate of Applied Science Degree. It is the first UAS associate degree offered in Colorado. Aims is the fifteenth two-year college nationwide to offer a degree in this field.
Since 2021, Aims has offered a UAS certificate to prepare students to take the Federal Aviation Administration small Unmanned Aerial Systems certification exam and obtain the basic credentials to fly drones professionally. This new associate degree program takes things to the next level as this industry expands. “It provides students with the basics of flying with professional-level drones and the ability to build and program their own drones.” Said UAS Chief Instructor Pilot Jake Marshall.
In the last few years, demand for UAS expertise has increased substantially. “We just grew,” Marshall said. “Students, high schools and the community wanted more.”
The Aims Unmanned Aircraft Systems Sciences program also cultivates opportunities for students to gain experience, such as working on mapping construction sites for Weld County and filming regional television commercials. “Students are involved with some extracurricular projects beyond just the class we offer. We’re building up this case for the need and now we’re adding the classes to support all this,” Marshall said.
The home to this new degree will be at the expanded Windsor Campus, in the Gateway Building currently under construction; the new facility is opening in January 2024. This new academic building features a drone fabrication and design lab. The campus is also adding a drone takeoff and landing pad area. “The classroom is set up to help with data production and understanding the post-production process of collecting all this data,” Marshall said. “This facility allows our students to design and build drones and test them.”
Marshall believes that people who love technology, have an entrepreneurial spirit and are adaptable to change will thrive in a UAS career. “You're going to be a part of the pioneer stage of the industry,” he said. “I want our students to be leaders and part of the next evolution of drones to accomplish our societal needs.”
UAS systems and applications are rapidly expanding, and skilled, certified pilots are already in demand. The FAA predicts an average annual job growth rate of 24.7 percent. Market research shows an estimated increase of 100,000 drone-related jobs by 2025. The average annual salary for a UAS operator is $80,000 per year.
“There are some established companies and new ones are starting up every single day,” Marshall said. “They all need pilots to take their companies to the next level.”
Visit aims.co/UAS to learn more about the UAS learning opportunities at Aims.
About Aims Community College
Aims Community College is one of the most progressive two-year colleges in Colorado. Founded more than 50 years ago in Greeley, Aims has since established locations in Fort Lupton, Loveland and Windsor. Curriculum now includes 4,000 day, evening, weekend and online courses annually in more than 200 degree and certificate programs. Aims Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Aims Community College is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution. aims.edu