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Monday, January 14, 2013

Unmanned Vehicle University Obtains License; Offers Free Book Publishing

I've been following Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU) on this blog for abut a year (previous articles: 1, 2). I keep an eye on it for two reasons. First, it's in the geospatial/GIS/remote sensing arena and second, it's a for-profit institution. I regularly receive e-mails from the school about upcoming courses and new offerings such as videos and books, but I do not receive news about the school itself. That information I have to dig up myself.

So, what's new at UVU since late 2012? Quite a lot!

In November university president Dr (Col Ret) Jerry LeMieux contributed to Big Beacon, a website about new ways to teach engineering. In his post titled Innovator’s Notebook: A New Approach to Unmanned Systems Engineering Education he scoped out the unique vision for UVU. It included decisions to:
  • Start from a student’s perspective. [Connect course content to job (job market).]
  • Recruit world-class expert faculty. [Require a PhD in engineering and tons of experience. Use social media to find faculty all over the world.]
  • Keep content real worldly, relevant, and applicable. [Mix delivery systems for content (lectures, videos, reading) and for student work (problem sets, papers, take home evaluations).]
  • Set a realistic business model and competitive pricing. [Make course fees low to serve areas with limited income (South America, India) and use off-site adjunct faculty to keep overhead manageable.]
Also in November I learned from LiDAR News' Gene Roe about the university's journal. "The International Journal of Unmanned Systems Engineering – (IJUSEng) is the official journal of Unmanned Vehicle University and the first journal exclusively dedicated to unmanned systems engineering." The January 2013 is the first issue and includes three free-to-read articles. There are also details on how to contribute and subscribe. The quarterly online publication is $495 for individuals and $150 for students. The publication is based in the UK. The editor, Dr Pascual Marques, has a company called Marques Aviation, which sells aircraft related products and services (website copyright 2010). He is UK Director for UVU.

On December 12 the University announced by press release a license to grant degrees in Arizona.
Unmanned Vehicle University just received a university license from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. The license grants UVU the authority to grant Doctorate and Masters Degrees in Unmanned (Air/Ground/Sea/Space) Systems Engineering. A Certificate in Unmanned Systems Project Management is also available for Undergraduates.
The Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education license shows no accreditations. I'm guessing that means that the board does not recognize the accreditation from International Association for Distance Learning UVU holds. Or perhaps that accreditation ran out? (I noted the IADL membership in a previous article.)

Interestingly,"fully accredited degrees," a phrase on the UVU homepage for some time, is no longer mentioned anywhere on the website. While exploring the Arizona license, I learned that the school does not operate in Washington State.  UVU "is not a legal degree-granting school in the state of Washington," per the Washington Student Achievement Council.

In late December the University posted a job for a recruiter noting a salary of 10K per month (120K per year, wow)! I saw it on several job boards including SimplyHired.com. 

At the end of December UVU announced, again via press release, a program to pay for the publication of the first 50 approved texts about UAVs submitted. The gory details are on the UVU Press page; it suggests publication could cost between $3K and $5K without this aid. The press already has one book approved: Dr Oren Gal, who is working on his PhD at the Technion in Israel, had his book titled "Marine Robotic Concepts and Science" approved.

To start off 2013 the University received the trademark (press release) for Unmanned Vehicle University, describing it as "Unmanned vehicle training and education."

UVU is clearly working hard to keep both its educational integrity high while boosting its bottom line.