College of Engineering Leads Preparation of Future Advanced Air Mobility Leaders

May 4, 2022  |  by Karin A. Hickenbotham, Department of Industrial Engineering

Editor's Note: This article was republished from Arkansas News.

Want to be on the cutting edge of new drone delivery techniques and prepare yourself to lead innovations in an exciting new field? The U of A is offering a new graduate microcertificate in advanced air mobility autonomous operations to prepare leaders for the evolution of transportation and supply chain systems.

This exciting new offering prepares adult learners who have little or no background in aviation to obtain their Federal Aviation Administration Remote Pilot Certificate, obtain complex FAA waivers and program unmanned aircraft systems (drones) to perform complex tasks such as building 3D models, doing thermal inspections, performing aerial surveying, measuring volume or distance remotely and tracking construction projects over time.

NASA Graphic by Lillian Gipson and Kyle Jenkins

NASA Graphic by Lillian Gipson and Kyle Jenkins

Additionally, students obtain new skills understanding trends and future uses in supply chain delivery by drone, future eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft), new supply chain models, solving airspace issues and emerging job skill demands.

Deloitte and the Aerospace Industries Association estimate that the economic impacts of advanced air mobility to be $115 billion by 2035 and over 280,000 new high-paying jobs. Both NASA and the FAA point to emerging needs for on-demand air mobility, cargo and package delivery, health care applications, emergency services and new connected multimodal transportation networks. Preparing a skilled workforce is vital to the success for advanced air mobility. There is no faster way to quickly upskill with a recognized credential than earning a graduate microcertificate. A graduate microcertificate in advanced air mobility autonomous operations is open to anyone with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline. The U of A graduate microcertificate in advanced air mobility autonomous operations requires a minimum of two courses and can be completed in one semester or two eight-week sessions. Courses may be completed online, by synchronous video or live at the U of A site in Bentonville.

Richard Ham, associate director of the Master of Science in Operations Management and Master of Science in Engineering Management programs at the U of A, has 40 years of experience as a pilot, air traffic controller, TERPS specialist (engineering and design of complex approaches for aircraft in the weather), airspace manager, airport manager, unmanned aircraft systems research and aviation workforce development. Ham developed the advanced air mobility autonomous operations graduate microcertificate to bridge the gap between current aviation workforce skills and future needs of the AAM workforce.

“There is an immediate need for new skills in AAM as supporting infrastructure is developed. This is not a need 10 years from now; there exists a need for a workforce skilled in this area now, with rapid growth over the next decade. Whether wanting to design new systems or work as an operations manager, engineer or programmer, we need to ramp up quickly now.”

Richard Ham, associate director, MSOM, MSEM

Heather Nachtmann, associate dean in the College of Engineering and the U of A lead on smart mobility initiatives, said, “We are grateful to Dr. Ham for his leadership in AAM. He has been a driving force on our campus behind workforce development and public-private partnerships to accelerate smart mobility innovation. The AAM graduate microcertificate is one piece of the U of A’s comprehensive vision to drive smart mobility education and innovation.”

The Department of Industrial Engineering in the College of Engineering has three professional graduate degree programs: M.S. in Operations Management (M.S.O.M.), M.S. in Engineering Management (M.S.E.M.) and M.S. in Operations Analytics (M.S.O.A.) The M.S.O.M. program began in 1974 and is designed for professionals from a broad range of backgrounds including business and government operations. Students learn how to create value to the production of goods and services while working with worldwide suppliers and customers. The M.S.E.M. began in 2017 and prepares engineers to lead and manage teams, projects and organizations with technical workforces to meet strategic objectives. The M.S.O.A., begun in 2020, helps students develop knowledge of the principles and practices of analytics modeling, such as optimization, statistical modeling, machine learning, simulation and computing methods as they apply to the strategic, operational and tactical control of operations.

The programs also include graduate certificates in operations managementengineering managementproject managementlean six sigma and homeland security to broaden student understanding of current skills needed by operations and engineering managers. All programs have a goal of “Learn It Today. Use It Tomorrow.”

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MicroCertificate in Advanced Air Mobility Autonomous Operations

The 6-credit hour Graduate MicroCertificate in Advanced Air Mobility Autonomous Operations is open to any student with an accredited bachelor’s degree. Students will gain the specialized knowledge and skills obtained in FAA Remote Pilot certification.

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