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Dayton, OH Boldly Soars into the Future

This region continues to push its aviation legacy to new heights with drone development and other emerging technologies.

By Bill Lewis on July 9, 2021

Dayton, OH
Sinclair College National UAS Training and Certification Center

Some places wait for tomorrow, but Dayton, OH is taking bold steps into the future today by applying its longstanding experience in technology-driven manufacturing to the development of unmanned aerial systems and their potential to change the way we live.

The region where two brothers working in the back of a bicycle shop invented the airplane is taking a leadership role in researching and commercializing unmanned aerial system (UAS) technology and training the people who build and operate those systems.

UAS development is part of a sophisticated manufacturing sector that makes everything from aerospace components to automotive equipment, diesel engines, industrial forklifts, medical devices and food products.

The manufacturing sector, which accounts for more than 43,000 jobs in the region, is a key driver of international investment.

In UAS development, the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), Sinclair College and the Air Force Research Laboratory are among the region’s assets.

No Pilot Required in Dayton, OH

Unmanned systems are becoming more common, says Mike O’Connor, head of UDRI’s Sensor and Software Systems division. “Self-driving cars are no longer a thing of the future, package delivery by drone is coming and initiatives are under way to develop autonomously controlled personal air vehicles that will safely ferry people from point to point,” O’Connor says.

His UDRI team supports advances in sensors and software necessary for autonomous systems. “We’re also aware of efforts to bring drones into the health care field for delivery of medicine and medical products, which could be especially helpful in emergency situations where traditional vehicle access is limited,” O’Connor says.

At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the pace of UAS research has been boosted by the award-winning SkyVision program, which the Air Force describes as an air traffic control system for UAS.

SkyVision has a Ground-Based Detect and Avoid capability that was fielded in 2019 at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport near Wright-Patterson. The system enables UAS operations to meet FAA requirements to see and avoid other aircraft while being remotely operated. SkyVision enables researchers in the Dayton area to conduct flight operations in the National Airspace System more quickly and speed up the innovation process.

New Economic Opportunities Throughout Western Ohio

At Sinclair College in Dayton, the National UAS Training and Certification Center is dedicated to advancing UAS technology and meeting workforce needs.

The UAS industry is a rapidly developing field with seemingly endless possibilities for new concepts and applications, facilitating the creation of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, says Dr. Andrew Shepherd, executive director and chief scientist at Sinclair College UAS.

In-demand career opportunities include UAS operations and maintenance, first responder missions, precision agriculture, data analysis, sensors, infrastructure inspection, mapping and surveying, 3D modeling, logistics and cargo delivery, real estate and more, he says.

The Sinclair College National UAS Training and Certification Center provides students with an immersive and hands-on environment. The primary 28,000-square-foot facility offers space for research and development and training on vehicles, all supported by leading-edge technologies and instruction.

In addition, Sinclair College offers degree and certificate programs as well as a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in UAS. Multiple labs support programs, including those dedicated to UAS simulation and data analytics, CNC machining and additive manufacturing, wind tunnel testing, engine and propeller testing, and UAS sensors, avionics and maintenance.

The college operates hundreds of UAS supported-by-ground control facilities. It is home to the 35,000-square-foot UAS Indoor Flight Range and 3,200-square-foot UAS Indoor Flying Pavilion, the world’s first custom-built UAS indoor flight training and testing space.

Dayton, OH
Larry Burgess/University of Dayton

High-Level Partnerships Power Dayton Region

Since 2008, Sinclair College has been at the forefront of UAS innovation, creating partnerships to meet the workforce needs of the UAS industry.

The National UAS Training and Certification Center is a partner in both the Federal Aviation Administration ASSURE UAS Center of Excellence and National Science Foundation Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

In addition, the college has engaged with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Institute of Technology and supported applied UAS research with NASA.

“The National UAS Training and Certification Center is proud to offer applied research and development, commercialization and technology transfer, customized training and education, leading consulting, and advanced simulation and data analytics services to academic, industry, and government partners and clients both nationally and globally,” Shepherd says.

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