NMSU joins University of Alabama Huntsville in unmanned aircraft systems research

DATE: 05/30/2019
WRITER: Darrell J. Pehr, 575-646-3223, pehr@nmsu.edu
CONTACT: Luis Cifuentes, 575-646-9313, lacifuen@nmsu.edu

New Mexico State University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville are collaborating in drone research.

The two universities signed a three-year memorandum of understanding to work together on UAS, or unmanned aircraft systems, for development policy, programs and use in research, education and other commercial areas.

“This partnership brings together two universities and two centers with long histories of research, development, testing and evaluation in aerospace and the UAS sector in particular,” said Luis Cifuentes, NMSU’s vice president for research. “Our joint strengths will create unique research and education capacities.”

Jerry Hendrix, UAH director of Unmanned Aerial Systems Programs responsible for UAS research, agrees. Hendrix is co-principal investigator for the MOU with Henry Cathey, deputy director of NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory.

“This agreement certainly is timely considering that the new NMSU president, John Floros, and the incoming UAH president, Darren Dawson, are friends and both were at Kansas State University at the same time,” Hendrix said.

“Growing UAS research and engineering and expanding the strength of UAS operations by combining the best from each institution offers both institutions advancement opportunities in key areas,” Hendrix said. “UAH’s and NMSU’s reputations with the Federal Aviation Administration are stellar and both are active members of the FAA UAS Research Center of Excellence under the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence, or ASSURE.”

Combining the engineering strength of UAH and the experienced FAA UAS Test Site at NMSU, the MOU strengthens the ability of the collective team to offer solutions to emerging UAS domain problems, Hendrix said.

Under the agreement, they will:
– Jointly pursue research opportunities supporting UAS design, research, operations, mission planning, and testing focused primarily at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama (U.S. Army and Missile Defense Agency), White Sands Missile Range, Fort Bliss and at Sandia National Laboratories, along with the companies that support UAS programs at those locations.
– Jointly pursue efforts related to UAS detections in the National Airspace/Counter UAS/Security UAS areas by working closely with the FAA, FAA Center of Excellence, Redstone Arsenal, DOD/DARPA, Sandia National Labs, NASA and other entities or locations.
– Develop and test alternative energy sources for UAS.
– Jointly search for active Other Transactional Agreements and similar mechanisms to support NASA, DOD, other government agencies, government entities, etc., in UAS projects.
– Support the FAA Center of Excellence program including implementation of joint STEM camps to further introduce young people to the UAS domain.
– Provide resources (labor and materials), as appropriate, to support each organization’s contracts and research.
– Seek opportunities to involve students at both institutions to further open the interaction among the universities, in each area of collaboration.


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