Unmanned Vehicle Systems, Charting New Territories in Business


Jose “Tony” Lopez-Baquero, Unmanned Vehicle Systems (UVS) Program Manager at Gulf Coast State College set the tone at the first Coffee & Conversation hosted by the Business Innovation Center this year in the Millaway Institute for Entrepreneurship.

UVS is considered a “disruptive” technology that is changing the way companies from a variety of sectors are doing business.  For now, these applications are in the areas of agriculture, search and rescue, surveying, construction, mapping and entertainment.  There continues to be exponential growth for the use resulting in a tremendous opportunity for Northwest Florida. “This technology will experience job growth as operators, pilots, maintenance & repair, software developers, and programmers,” according to Lopez-Baquero, “and out of necessity, the usage of such devices will add to growth in the insurance and legal sectors.” 

Gulf Coast State College (GCSC) embraced the predictions from a 2013 Economic report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International which stated that over 100,000 new jobs using unmanned aerial vehicle technology will be created by 2025. 

GCSC has established the first UVS Operations A.S. program among Florida’s 28 colleges. According to Lopez-Baquero, “The program is a launching pad for a career in an emerging field.  Students in the course track will be able to earn industry-recognized certificates that will prepare them for a position in the field.”  Graduates can also continue their academic pathway at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The presentation also emphasized that because the industry is changing rapidly, so are the regulations. As of August 29, the FAA issued new comprehensive regulations for routine non-recreational use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).  In preparation for the UAS remote pilot certificate, the program at Gulf Coast not only prepares students to understand the regulations but also offers hands-on projects applied in the industry.