Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drone Technology

Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drone Technology Associate of Science (A.S.) in Technical Studies

About the UAS/Drone Technology Concentration

Learn to 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 in technical studies 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.

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

Make an impact with career-focused knowledge and skills.

 The 60-credit UAS/drone technology program at Cal U can help you land a job in this emerging field 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 small unmanned aircraft.
  • Hands-on learning in Cal U labs, plus mission-based field trips for UAV test flights and data collection using unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • 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.


Focused coursework: Cal U's UAS/drone pilot degree program is one of the first in the country to concentrate specifically on commercial-grade unmanned aircraft systems for civilian use. Develop career-focused knowledge and skills in:

Accelerated schedule: 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 are available.

Learn more about applying

Number of specialized courses developed for Cal U's drone technology program.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International reports that drone operators earn average salaries of $85,000 to $110,000 per year.
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Degree Benefits

Cal U's associate degree program in UAS/drone technology prepares you to enter a rapidly growing career field with the potential to change business, industry and our day-to-day lives.

  • Earn a degree that sets you apart from others in this emerging field.
  • Gain the flexibility to start a career as a UAS technician, or take the exam to become an FAA-certified drone operator.
  • Enter the workforce or use your A.S. degree courses as a starting point for a Cal U bachelor's degree.
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Graduate Outcomes

The jobs outlook is excellent: Drone technology is estimated to generate more than 100,000 jobs nationally in the next 10 years. Projections show that 10 states, including Pennsylvania, are most likely to benefit from the integration of UAVs into commercial airspace.  UAS/drone technology graduates 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


Associate of Science in Technical Studies: Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drone Technology
Professor Juff Sumey flies a drone.

Faculty Expertise

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.

Students get hands-on experience flying and building drones.

Hands-on Learning

Lab courses in the drone technology program meet for two hours of lecture and three hours of hands-on laboratory activities each week. You'll gain experience with all aspects of drone technology, including design, construction and data acquisition.

A drone in the sky.

Get Ready to Fly

The one-credit UAS Certification Prep course gets you ready to take 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.


A.S. in Technical Studies: Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drone Technology Courses​

Tailor the associate degree program to complement your career objectives by adding your choice of approved technical electives to the professional technical core and general education courses.​


Course Credits
General Education Courses 27
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100 First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
COM 250  Oral Communication: Management
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
MAT 181  College Algebra
Technological Literacy
GET 130  Intro to Engineering Technology
Natural Sciences
PHY 121  General Physics I*
General Education Options
  • EAS 104  Intro to Meteorology (4 credits)
  • ENG 217  Scientific and Technical Writing (3 credits)
  • Any General Education Course (3 credits)
Professional Technical Core 28
UAS 110  Intro to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles 3
UAS 120  Principles of Aviation 3
UAS 160  UAS Design and Construction 3
UAS 220  UAV Operations 3
UAS 270  Avionic Systems 3
UAS 310  UAS Sensing and Analysis 3
GIS 350  Remote Sensing of Environment 3
MAT 191  College Trigonometry 3
PHY 122  General Physics II* 4
Technical Electives 5
Select at least five credits from the following:
  • ENS 101  Intro to Environmental Science (3 credits)
  • GIS 314  Spatial Land Data in the Oil and Gas Industry (3 credits)
  • ITE 101  Intro to Industrial Safety (3 credits)
  • RET 110  Agile Robotics I (3 credits)
  • RET 160  Agile Robotics II (3 credits)
  • UAS 250  UAS Certification Prep (1 credit)
  • Other courses per adviser approval
Total 60

* Students may substitute calculus-based College Physics for more rigorous coverage.

Program Note: Students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA to qualify for graduation.

Additional Resources

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Certification Preparation

Combine Your Drone Technology A.S. With An Engineering

Drone Careers

   The Future Of Drones