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Friday, May 10, 2013

New Website and Possible New Campus for Unmanned Vehicle University

I've written about Unmanned Vehicle University several times in recent years (1, 2, 3). I realized I'd not received an e-mail from them in some months, since January 2013. I'd been getting an e-mail roughly monthly before that with an invitation to start a degree or an announcement about a book or a new publishing program.

When I visited the university website I was surprised to find it was redone. The old slow, frankly archaic version was replaced by a slick modern one. And, clearly, the team that put it together did their homework. They removed all links to my coverage in the media area, some if it not quite so positive, I confess. They de-emphasized the school's licensing (noted here) and accreditation (no mention I could find) and simplified the process of admission to four steps: download catalog, fill out form, fax or e-mail application (no, you can't apply online), pay money. There are even testimonials from students, though some are not as positive as others.

So what else is new at UVU since January?

There are a number of new offerings, mostly videos on DVD, on topics such as UAVs and firefighting, UAVs for police work, driverless car design , a DIY drone kit, starting a UAV business, among others.

The university is hiring a COO, instructors and international directors.

There's a list of current job openings (some of which had expired).

The university has partnered (not clear how) with an unmanned vehicle industry headhunter.

UVU was selected for a training contract with an unidentified overseas customer for $435,000.

A press release (from the above contract announcement) from April offers these stats about the university. UVU graduated 150 students from courses (not necessarily degrees or certificates) in 2012, and anticipate 300 students enrolling in 2013. Other PRs about the new courses, the granting of a trademark, etc. are listed on a press release site, not the university's own website.

The university notes financial aid is available from two private employers via tuition assistance (US Airways and URS) and the State of Arizona. It also points students to a federal program for workers who lost jobs because of foreign trade.

The university started a crowdfunding campaign to raise $10 million to build a campus.
Currently, all of our courses are online and our students are all over the world. We need your help to fund a brick and mortar campus. The funds will be used to build classrooms, administrative offices and student housing and provide scholarships. All donors will have their name and level included in the UVU donors book. Gold level donors will have their personal or business name engraved on bricks that pave Unmanned Leaders Plaza which will host statues of unmanned air, ground, sea and space vehicles.
To date, there has not been a single donation. The "pitch video" on the crowdfunding page is an introduction to the university's three day course.