Hazard Community and Technical College Announces New Unmanned Systems Technology Program


HAZARD, Ky. — Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC) has announced the addition of an Unmanned Systems Technology (UST) certification program. These courses will complement efforts of the USA Drone Port and work to establish Appalachia Kentucky as a global leader in UST.

This certification program prepares students for entry and advancement within the unmanned systems technology workforce (aerial, land, and water vehicles/robotics) field.  UST has applications in a variety of industries with capabilities that provide new methods to address such areas as commercial drone pilot, first responders, search and rescue, inspection services, geographic information systems, and many other identified applications.

Students can obtain the following certifications: Drone Operator Specialist, First Responder Specialist, GIS/Unmanned Systems Specialist, and Remote Drone Pilot.

Bart Massey, director of technology at HCTC, said, “Preparing the workforce for a future in robotics and aviation is an important role of the college. This technology is growing at an astounding rate and our early preparation could poise our region for success in the future of robotics.”

It was after the conceptualization of the USA Drone Port that programs such as UST became critical. The USA Drone Port, also known as the National Unmanned Robotic Research and Development Center, is an aeronautics facility located near Hazard, KY.. Eighteen months after its formal launch in March 2017, the USA Drone Port is already garnering national attention for its steadfast commitment to providing world-class research, development, and workforce development opportunities for innovative businesses, secondary and post-secondary education, and government entities. The USA Drone Port has the capacity to accelerate Central Appalachia’s ongoing development as an essential hub for advanced manufacturing and high-tech entrepreneurship.

Across the region, efforts are being made to support the drone services and create a high-tech workforce. The Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative (KVEC) offers drone technology and programming opportunities to K-12 students throughout eastern Kentucky. HCTC is the only Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) location to offer an associate degree in Unmanned Systems Technology. Additionally, HCTC recently forged a partnership with Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Students who want to continue in the field will have the opportunity to pursue their bachelor’s degree while they continue to live, work, and study in Central Appalachia. 

“With the coal industry being minimized, we as a region have to find new economic fields that we can grow into. We now have an opportunity to re-invent ourselves as the drone capital of the USA,” Massey says. “I am proud of our region, our college, and our citizens for adopting such new technology at an early stage.”

Enrollment is now open for the UST courses. To register for classes, contact Ella Strong at (606) 487-3208, e-mail at Ella.strong@kctcs.edu,  or visit the HCTC website.

HCTC, as part of KCTCS, is a Founding Partner of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR).  The USA Drone Port and KVEC are Grassroots Partners of SOAR.