Associates in Unmanned Aircraft / Drone Tech | Cal U

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A.S. in Technical Studies: Unmanned Aerial Systems/Drone Technology

Design, build and pilot unmanned aerial vehicles

Drone technology is poised to be a game-changer for industries from agriculture to retail sales. Learn to design, construct and deploy commercial-grade civilian drones in this associate degree program at California University of Pennsylvania.

Launch your career with a degree focused specifically on unmanned aircraft systems, and prepare to earn your FAA license as a certified UAS operator.

Complete the 60-credit associate degree program in two years of full-time study, or add summer courses to finish in just 15 months. Part-time options also are available.

Classes begin in fall 2017, and applications are being accepted now. 

Courses for this on-campus degree program also can give you a jump-start on a Cal U bachelor’s degree in computer, electrical or mechatronics engineering technology.

Meet the growing demand for skilled UAS technicians and operators

Cal U’s program is one of the first in the nation to concentrate specifically on commercial-grade unmanned aircraft systems for civilian use.

The UAS/drone technology program at Cal U can help you land a job in this emerging field, which is estimated to have an economic impact of $90 billion or more over the next decade. 

The associate degree program includes:

  • Courses specifically focused on the knowledge and skills required to succeed as a technician in the UAS/drone industry in Pennsylvania and across the United States.
  • Instruction in aviation law, safety considerations and federal regulations governing commercial-grade unmanned aircraft.
  • Hands-on learning in Cal U labs, plus mission-based field trips for data collection using unmanned aerial vehicles and UAV test flights.
  • A 1-credit optional course that prepares you to take the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 licensure exam and earn your UAS operator certificate.
  • Cal U’s innovative UAS/drone technology program can help you land a job in this emerging field, which is estimated to have an economic impact of $90 billion or more over the next decade.

The program develops career-focused knowledge and skills in:

  • Aviation principles and drone avionics.
  • Design and construction of UAS platforms.
  • Safe and purposeful drone operations.
  • Acquisition and analysis of UAV-acquired imagery and data.

Employment outlook

The jobs outlook for drone technicians is excellent: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Industry, drone technology is estimated to generate more than 100,000 jobs nationally in the next 10 years.

Research shows that 10 states, including Pennsylvania, are most likely to benefit from the integration of UAVs into commercial airspace. According to the Association for Unmanned

Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the industry will generate an estimated 11,000 jobs in the mid-Atlantic region alone.

The AUVSI reports that drone operators earn average salaries of $85,000 to $110,000 per year.

Graduates with an associate degree in UAS/drone technology can expect to be employed in a wide variety of fields including:

  • Agriculture.
  • Conservation.
  • Delivery/fulfillment.
  • Disaster mitigation and relief.
  • Energy exploration.
  • Filmmaking and photography.
  • Geographic information systems.
  • Law enforcement/security.
  • Real estate.
  • Research.


This 60-credit program gives you the knowledge and skills you need to start a career as a UAS technician or take the exam to become an FAA-certified drone operator. Lab courses within the major include two hours of classroom lecture and three hours of hands-on laboratory activities each week.

Personalize your program

You can tailor this 60-credit program to complement your career objectives by adding your choice of approved technical electives to the 33-credit professional technical core and 27 credits of general education courses required to earn the A.S. degree.

The optional 1-credit UAS Certification prep course prepares you to sit for the FAA Part 107 aeronautical knowledge test. Pass the test and the required TSA background security screening to receive your remote pilot certificate with a small-UAS rating.

The UAS/drone technology program also can be completed in conjunction with a Cal U bachelor’s degree program in:

  • Computer engineering technology.
  • Electrical engineering technology.
  • Mechatronics engineering technology.


Additional Information

Apply Now

Applications are being accepted now for the A.S. in Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drone Technology program. Classes begin in fall 2017. Apply now

For more information, contact or call 724-938-4404 or 888-412-0479 (toll free).


Professor Jeff Sumey, director of the drone technology program, has worked on grant-funded projects in association with the Department of Defense, the Office of Naval

Research and NASA. He prides himself on developing hands-on programs that motivate students to put theory into practice.

Students in the drone technology program also will interact with faculty from the Eberly College of Science and Technology who specialize in relevant fields such as mathematics, physics, meteorology, and scientific and technical writing.

Meet Professor Jeff Sumey

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