New Mexico State University leads drone research


Right now New Mexico State University is going airborne with its research on unmanned aircraft systems, or better known as drones.

Students are conducting research that helps set the standard for drones.

But there is one thing that sets NMSU apart from other universities with similar programs.

New Mexico State University has a flight test center, now a designated UAS test site, keeping their eyes on the sky.

NMSU students are teaming up with Federal Aviation Administration to navigate their way through the future of unmanned flight technology.

Dennis Zaklan, who is leading the research at NMSU, says the new technology is testing the sky’s limit.

“Now they are collecting so much data because they aren’t sitting up at 5,000 feet. They are doing this anywhere from 100 to 400 feet. The sensors have gotten better because these youngsters have built this new technology and have made them smaller, lighter, and more accurate,” Zaklan said.

Zaklan says there is a stigma that these systems are taking away jobs, but that’s not the case.

He argues UAS is a tool that could create jobs, perform certain tasks that might be difficult or dangerous for humans and even save money.

“For the farmer be it a pecan farmer or a chile farmer, if he could put one aircraft up and fly his entire field at one time. That saves money from bringing it back, landing it, driving it to the next location and putting it up again,” Zaklan said.

Researchers test these drones at the flight testing center in Las Cruces, coordinating 15,000 square miles of FAA-approved airspace.

Students are navigating the skies over Las Cruces, Lordsburg, Grant County, and Socorro.

NMSU will host a youth and stem outreach on Sept. 26 at Aggie Memorial Stadium, the university is inviting 500 middle school students to fly and be part of the experience.

The event will start from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and will teach students about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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