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Published March 31, 2012, 08:35 PM

Northland Community and Technical College growing role in UAS Maintenance Training

Thief River Falls, MN (WDAZ TV) - Leaders at Northland Community and Technical College just returned from an invite only conference by Northrop Grumman. The defense technology company continues to strengthen its ties with the UAV manufacturer.

By: David Schwab, WDAY

Leaders at Northland Community and Technical College just returned from an invite only conference by Northrop Grumman. The defense technology company continues to strengthen its ties with the UAV manufacturer.

Tyler Beckman is one of three Northland Community and Technical College students to be the first to graduate with a degree in unmanned aerial systems maintenance. Now he's looking at his career options.

Tyler Beckman – Receiving UAS Maintenance Degree: "I do have some backup plans, maybe Northrop Grummon."

NCTC was recently recognized by Northrop Grumman in Washington D.C at the defense contractor's Industry Days. They are the maker of the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, the same type of surveillance and security planes that are stationed Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Dan Klug - NCTC Chief Development Officer: "Northrop Grumman sees in in us the potential on the ability to deliver what we are working toward.”

And that is the school's maintenance training abilities in traditional aircraft and unmanned aerial systems.

Curtis Zoller - UAS Program Manager: "We spend a lot of time on computers and some of the more specific concepts that are only issues for the UAS or unmanned aero systems arena."

UAS activity on the Air Force Base, the Border Patrol and UND, may have helped NCTC's program gain momentum. The college has received two large federal grants to help get the program off the ground.

Curtis Zoller - UAS Program Manager: "The best part of this is, because it is Department of Labor, all of the UAS courses that are generated by the Department of Labor are free we do not charge any tuition for them."

It's estimated that as many as 37 of the 75 students now enrolled in the traditional maintenance program will go on to train in the UAS program.

Dan Klug - NCTC Chief Development Officer: "We believe we will have several hundred students in the next ten years it really depends on the applications of this technology advances and begins to be used in our everyday use."

And for graduates like Beckman, the sky maybe the limit.

Tyler Beckman – Receiving UAS Maintenance Degree: "I'll be working with some of the staff here, and learning about some of the future operations that are going to be developed.”

The school and UND are in a five year deal for UAS work.

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