UND Announces Plan To Create Institute For Unmanned And Autonomous Research

By Kaylee Cusack, UND Today

When UND President Mark Kennedy arrived on campus last year, he saw the same potential in the expansive North Dakota airspace as John D. Odegard did when he launched UND’s leading aerospace program in 1968.

And like Interim President Ed Schafer, who centralized unmanned activities in the President’s Office in 2016, President Kennedy saw the ability to integrate disciplines across the campus to build upon the unmanned leadership initially advanced by UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences (JDOSAS).

“Thanks to excellent efforts of the Odegard School and UND Center for Innovation, we have over a decade of leadership in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with a string of ‘firsts’ (listed below). But competition for leading this exploding field is growing, and we must step up to a new level,” President Kennedy said.

He brought a plan to Vice President for Research and Economic Development Grant McGimpsey to build on UND’s strengths in flight, testing and entrepreneurship, while expanding research that addresses the critical need to capture, secure and analyze the voluminous amounts of data generated by unmanned and autonomous systems. The plan also recognized two additional and important facets of the unmanned ecosystem: development of national policy on UAS and the need to drive innovation leading to next-generation autonomous technologies. The plan calls for catalyzing UND’s strengths and expertise through the Institute for Unmanned and Autonomous Research (IUAR).

 “The establishment of the IUAR will help UND maintain our leadership role and expand our impact to include the UAS data supply chain and autonomous systems,” McGimpsey said. “The IUAR will also be critical in helping UND address the Grand Challenges laid out in its current Strategic Plan.”

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