Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State partnership to further boost unmanned systems program

December 4, 2015

Embracing the philosophy of two heads are better than one, Indiana State University has strategically aligned itself with another leading provider of aviation and unmanned systems education.

Indiana State officials traveled to Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, Friday to sign a memorandum of understanding uniting a broad and flexible portfolio of aircrew training, aviation safety, system operations, data collection and analytics.

The partnership is expected to yield research and products to help organizations of all industry types use this emerging technology to solve business and technical problems.

"We have anticipated this day for some time as a great step forward for both Indiana and Ohio," said Richard Baker, chair of Indiana State's department of aviation technology. "There are times when two heads are better than one. In this case, ISU and Sinclair are partnering in a strategic alliance to address the needs of industry and the workforce."

In June, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education approved a four-year unmanned systems program - the first of its kind in the state and with the support of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Office of Defense Development. The agreement will be yet another boon for Sycamores.

"The MOU is a major accomplishment that will provide great advantages to the students of the College of Technology," said Bob English, dean of the College of Technology. "The programs at Sinclair Community College and ISU both focus on first-responders, precision agriculture and geo-spatial information. By partnering with Sinclair, our students have access to projects, equipment and companies that they would not otherwise have access to."

The partnership will focus on uses for unmanned aircraft in agriculture and data analytics technology.

"We are at the intersection of big data and sensor application development," Baker said. "Our partnership will combine expertise in business solutions for big data and analytics with data platform technologies to deliver solutions for today's increasingly data-rich world."

Pooling the resources of Indiana State's five colleges and Sinclair will enable collaborative data-and-analytics innovation to address the increasing volumes of information demands companies are facing.

"The first focus area will be the combination of big data volumes from new sources acquired with sensors on robust unmanned platforms," Baker said. "The goal is to enable users to create their own personal perspectives on all data: structured and unstructured, stored and streamed and from inside and outside their organization. The end result will provide agile and relevant analytical insight to a broad community of industry users and through real-time technology, integrate those insights directly into business solutions."

One million so-called drones are expected to be sold this holiday season, a fact that demonstrates how the technology is in demand, both in the public and private sectors.

"People are seeking ways to create, share and collaborate in new ways to support the opportunities for new business models," Baker said. "ISU and Sinclair will provide a pathway to the future for industries and students (or future employees) who understand the benefits of unmanned systems technologies, the advantages to applying the technology in new business models and are able to provide value to companies with demonstrated expertise in vehicle and sensor technologies."

Students on both campuses will be endowed with the skills highly sought by employers, university officials say.

"Sinclair Community College has world-class facilities and a historical presence in unmanned research. Combined with Indiana State University's long tradition of educational excellence, aviation training programs and development of emerging technologies, this MOU represents the moment we are giving our jointly announcing our partnering commitment to be a force in the four foundational corners of unmanned systems -- student education, training, research and workforce development," said Jan Eglen, member of the College of Technology Executive Advisory Board.

Added Roland Shelton, senior vice president for constituent relations at the Indiana State University Foundation: "This partnership is exciting for our unmanned systems program and our students. By collaborating with Sinclair we will strengthen the opportunities for both institutions in this emerging industry."


Media Contact: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

Story Highlights

University officials traveled to Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, Friday to sign a memorandum of understanding uniting a broad and flexible portfolio of aircrew training, aviation safety, system operations, data collection and analytics.

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