ASU Board to take up marine technology certificate, consider drone policy

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 142 views 

A new certificate program at the Arkansas State University-Mid South campus in West Memphis will be in the offing, as trustees also discussed an unmanned aircraft systems (drone) policy for the entire system.

The ASU Board of Trustees will meet at 1 p.m., Friday (Dec. 11) at ASU-Mountain Home for their quarterly meeting. According to the board agenda, the marine technology certificate program has been a two-year work in progress to create the certificate.

ASU-Mid-South, which was formerly called Mid-South Community College, received a $2.065 million grant in Oct. 2013 from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant was given because the college is part of the Mississippi River Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Consortium, officials said Wednesday. The group was created by a joint effort of the American Association of Community Colleges and the Kellogg Foundation to promote positive collaboration among Mississippi River colleges linked by common economic ties.

“One of ASU Mid-South’s grant deliverables is the creation of a Certificate of Proficiency in Marine Technology, to expand its capacity to meet industry demand in the transportation, distribution, and logistics (TDL) sectors,” the agenda noted. “This certificate program meets the demand of the TDL industry in that, as the Port of Memphis and the Port of West Memphis plan for expansion, a greater need for a trained workforce specific to the marine industry is required. Through meetings with West Memphis Economic Development and with representatives from the marine industry in Memphis and the surrounding areas, more and more barge and tugboat traffic will be present, thus resulting in the need for a trained workforce for these marine technology jobs.”

If approved by trustees, the program will be offered during the spring 2016 semester.

In other action, the board is also expected to rename the aviation maintenance technology building at ASU-Mid-South after FedEx Express. The company, based in nearby Memphis, has helped with developing the program including donating a retired Boeing 727 cargo jet and equipment for training.

The board is also expected to take up a policy involving unmanned aircraft systems, or drones.

Under the proposal, the board “permits the use of any UAS to support administrative, research, instructional, and service functions of the System institutions upon proper authorization by the designated UAS coordinator at that location. The System may be eligible for certificates of waiver or authorization (COAs) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that permit System campuses to fly a UAS in the furtherance of a governmental function and where its use would otherwise be prohibited under current law.”

Also, the personal use of a drone, “including but not limited to recreational or hobby flight of model aircraft, by faculty, staff, students, or third parties on Arkansas State University System property is prohibited unless authorized by the designated UAS coordinator at that location.”

The policy also creates several uses for the aircraft. They include:
• The drone is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;

• The drone is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;

• The drone is limited to not more than 15 pounds, unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization.

• The drone is operated in a manner that does not interfere with, and gives way to, any manned aircraft.

• The drone operator provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower with prior notice of the operation when the UAS is flown within five miles of an airport.

Also, flights are banned below 3,000 feet and within a three nautical mile radius of the Arkansas State University Centennial Bank Stadium, one hour before, during or one hour after an event.