UNLV News Center – Taking Flight

UNLV research, a new FAA designation, and state economic development efforts offer clear skies for Nevada’s growing drone industry. l Greg Friesmuth wanted for Christmas as a sixth-grader was a Lego Mindstorms kit. The kits for building programmable robots were new and pricey at the time, so he was thrilled he when he unwrapped three packages of them. He tinkered with those robots, building and rebuilding them throughout high school in Riverside, Calif. When he followed his sister to UNLV for college, he already knew he wanted a career in robotics. Here his ideas quite literally took flight. Under the watch of professor Woosoon Yim, Friesmuth dove head first into the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also sometimes referred to as “drones.” As head of UNLV’s Intelligent Structures and Control Laboratory, Yim had just landed a federal research grant in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories to develop an autonomous system for doing the hazardous job of measuring radiation levels inside a domed nuclear power plant. Friesmuth stepped up to design and build a drone to carry sensory equipment. “It was an up and coming thing,” Friesmuth said about the research work. “I knew (flying UAVs) was going to be popular, and I kind of latched onto them as my specialty.” His timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The prototype developed with the help of Yim has spawned Skyworks Aerial Systems, a UNLV student-based startup that is winning over investors and showcasing the talent available in the state. [Related story: “From Student Project to Start Up“] “I guess (those Legos) turned out to be the best investment in my... read more

Press Release – UNLV Positioned to Support Research, Workforce Development in Drone Industry

Nevada designated by FAA as one of six regional sites for unmanned aerial vehicles development; UNLV to become training, research hub for industry. UNLV has worked successfully with state education and research institutions and the governor’s office to ensure Nevada was selected by the Federal Aviation Administration as one of six national sites for testing, research, and development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – often known as drones. UNLV was part of a large team of government, education and private-sector experts that that supported the creation of the state application. Other sites selected are located in Alaska, New York, North Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. “UNLV is ready and excited to be a part of this journey,” said Rama Venkat, interim dean of the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering.  “I am confident that Nevada’s economy will see a paradigm shift within the next decade due to the explosion of UAV-based technologies.” Bringing the UAV industry to Nevada could have a potential economic impact of $2.5 billion to $8 billion, and UNLV is poised to serve as a comprehensive research institution with expertise in all unmanned aerial system (UAS)-related areas.  UNLV will provide an interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and policy and legal experts to make this program a success. “We have been working with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to support the FAA designation and see tremendous potential for partnering with industry in the development of the UAS industry,” said Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development Thomas Piechota. For several years, the UNLV College of Engineering has been active in the area of unmanned aerial systems through federally... read more




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