Wake Tech, Elizabeth City State collaborate, launch aviation and drone partnership

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Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Wake Tech, ECSU aviation and drone partnership takes flight
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Wake Tech president and Elizabeth City State University chancellor believe this to be a great learning and recruitment tool for their respective schools.

NORTH CAROLINA (WTVD) -- In a historic announcement, administration leaders from Wake Tech and Elizabeth City State University signed a memorandum of agreement Monday with the announcement of a new aviation and drone partnership between both schools.

Wake Tech president Dr. Scott Ralls and Elizabeth City State University chancellor Dr. Karrie G. Dixon both believe this to be a great learning and recruitment tool for their respective schools.

"This partnership provides a seamless transfer to UAS, Aviation, and Emergency Management programs at ECSU once students complete their degree at Wake Tech," said Chancellor Dixon in a press release. "ECSU and Wake Tech are uniquely positioned to offer a quality UAS program focused on Public Safety. Public Safety is one of the fastest-growing areas to have adopted drone technology. "

To solidify the partnership, Ralls and Dixon met on the campus of Wake Tech to sign the MOA that was delivered by a drone. Once the delivery of the document was complete, both leaders signed it in front of the notable figures and a small audience to a handful of cheers.

"All these partnerships aren't so much about a number we can hit, but a capability," Ralls told Eyewitness News. "A lot of times these capabilities bring in opportunities that we sometimes just don't imagine. So we'll see." Ralls believes unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) represent the technology of the future and believes "the opportunities are endless."

Not only is Elizabeth City State University the leading aviation university in North Carolina, Ralls believes the two schools can leverage one another to offer training for careers in aviation or the use of drones.

Locally, WakeMed currently uses drones to deliver packages across buildings on its campus.

Both leaders have also noted how rapidly the UAS field is growing; with uses in public safety, environmental management, coastal management, emergency management, and the future possibility of air taxis by drone.

"There are a documented 400-plus applications for drones and the list grows pretty much every day," said ECSU aviation professor and dean Kuldeep Rawat. "Now, the local college Wake Tech will have a program similar to Elizabeth City State University's. Now they have an opportunity to start exploring this career field."

Wake Tech East will also work to recruit students from nearby East Wake High School in Wendell to attract talent to its campus for this partnership.

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