WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published April 18, 2011, 09:50 PM

Conrad in Grand Forks to Check Out UND Unmanned Systems

Conrad: ND on forefront of something big, GF right in the middle of it
The University of North Dakota got high praise from Senator Kent Conrad Monday for its focus on Unmanned Aerial System development.

The University of North Dakota got high praise from Senator Kent Conrad Monday for its focus on Unmanned Aerial System development.

Conrad says Grand Forks has quickly become a world-renowned center for unmanned aerial vehicles research, education and training.

Conrad says technology changes very fast and it is also quickly changing North Dakota.

"Growing up in Bismarck, North Dakota, we thought a '53 Chevy was interesting technology. The world changes," Conrad said as he visited the UND campus. "North Dakota is one of the two bases for UAS systems. It's on the forefront of something big and Grand Forks is right in the middle of it."

"We are the first and only university to have a major for UAS bachelor degree," UND Aerospace Dean Bruce Smith said.

At UND's Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Conrad noted how North Dakota is the perfect place for UAS training, teaching and research, pointing out the state has the least amount of air traffic in the country.

He was able to get a taste of the ScanEagle Reconnaissance aircraft, a major source of monitoring Red River Flooding

This summer, Conrad will co-host the 2011 Red River Valley Research Corridor UAS Action Summit with Senator John Hoeven. The two-day conference will feature some of the first global hawk systems and future uses for UAS, which could include law enforcement.

"Think of the tremendous potential to track those engaged in crimes or crime prevention," Conrad said.

Conrad has helped ease federal airspace restrictions on UAS operations and has secured more than $23 million in federal funding for a new facility at the Grand Forks Air Force base, helping UAS technology change the world even more.

"This is cutting-edge technology. We all should be really proud of UND," Conrad said.

Tags: