NMC selected for new FAA UAS training program

TRAVERSE CITY — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected Northwestern Michigan College’s UAS (drone) training program for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems-Collegiate Training Program, or the UAS-CTI.

To be selected, a college/school had to meet criteria including; having an accredited Associate degree focusing on UAS, FAA certification of UAS pilots, operation of both multi-rotor and airplane style systems, training in functional areas including agriculture, environmental services, infrastructure and utility inspections, petroleum, oil and gas inspections, and public safety.

According to the FAA, the purpose of the UAS-CTI program is to create long-term relationships with institutions of higher education that focus on preparing candidates for careers in all aspects of UAS. The UAS-CTI program’s goal is to collaborate with schools to deliver up-to-date UAS training that matches the requirements of the National Airspace System (NAS) and helps prepare qualified applicants for careers involving UAS. In addition, these new UAS-CTI institutions will support the FAA's efforts to expand the aviation workforce of the future while providing additional opportunities for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students.

“NMC has been on the forefront of UAS education since we launched the program ten years ago,” said NMC UAS Director Tony Sauerbrey. “This is another great example of how the program continues to innovate and lead for the benefit of our students.”

The FAA UAS-CTI designation allows NMC to participate with the FAA in shaping the future UAS training environment including training methods and standards through workshops, seminars and other programs. The FAA will also be a resource to help students with job placement, internships and other opportunities.

In addition to the CTI program, the FAA is asking two-year institutions like NMC to participate in the Consortium for Small UAS Technology Training. Sauerbrey says the UAS industry and FAA have seen programs like NMC’s offer responsive, agile, hands-on technical training that prepares students to enter the workforce faster and better prepared.

NMC’s UAS program celebrates its 10-year anniversary in September 2020. Since it began, the program has produced graduates who are currently working in all aspects of the industry including launching startup companies and assisting private businesses and public institutions. NMC operates a fleet of unmanned aerial systems that rivals much larger universities. NMC’s small class size allows the program to innovate and remain responsive to the ever changing industry of Unmanned Aerial Systems.


Release date: August 26, 2020


Tony Sauerbrey
Director, Unmanned Aerial Systems
(231) 995-2925


Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. nmc.edu/non-discrimination