Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State granted FAA approval for unmanned flight at 2 locations

April 22, 2015

Indiana State University is the first higher education institution in the state to receive approval to fly unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted certificates of authorization for Indiana State to operate such vehicles at Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field and the Indiana National Guard's Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in southeastern Indiana.

"The granting of these two certificates of authorization is a huge boost for the university's unmanned systems program. It will provide students with significant research and training to prepare them for the expanding employment opportunities in this field," said university President Dan Bradley. "This is an important and significant step in expanding the College of Technology's curriculum and services to meet the workforce and workplace requirements of emerging technology."

The action is also a boost for the Terre Haute airport, said Jeff Hauser, executive director.

"Being in the forefront of the unmanned systems integration is a tremendous opportunity for the Terre Haute International Airport and the surrounding community," Hauser said. "Unmanned systems have great potential to be beneficial in sectors such as agriculture, law enforcement, disaster response operations and an endless number of other applications."

In addition to paving the way for Indiana State to train students for pilot and management positions, the action "will also drive research into ubiquitous uses of sensors that represent an exciting future for the peaceful use of unmanned system technology," said Bob English, dean of Indiana State's College of Technology.

Sensors will be used not only in air, land and sea vehicles but also in such fields as medicine, precision agriculture, search and rescue, architecture and the media, said Don Bonte, director of Indiana State's Center for Unmanned Systems and Human Capital Development.

"This will encourage interdisciplinary cooperation and research, create new educational and training partnerships between universities and expand existing ones, and provide new opportunities for businesses supplying products to autonomous industries," Bonte said.

University leaders see the potential for Indiana State to play an active role in research and development for the "Internet of Things," a network of objects such as motor vehicles that are embedded with software, sensors and connectivity features that enable them to operate seamlessly with other objects via the Internet.

"Receiving two certificates of authority simultaneously validates the strength of Indiana State's leadership, faculty, staff and student body in being prime movers in this area," said Dick Baker, founding director of the university's unmanned systems program and now a consultant to the center. "It also illustrates the university's vision in understanding the need for partnerships in technology that will ultimately affect every home, student and business, our cities, state and nation in the associated development of the technology for goods and services and how they are delivered. The awarding of these certificates can be transformative for Indiana State, Terre Haute and the state of Indiana."

English said Indiana State invites other colleges and universities and businesses who want to test unmanned vehicles or associated products to contact the Center for Unmanned Systems and Human Capital Development at 812-237-4479 or

"This is an excellent opportunity for testing in an approved environment with professional oversight," English said. "We want to develop relationships with partner institutions and businesses right from the outset to have a voice in these technology advances."

Photo: - An unmanned aerial vehicle is flown inside an Indiana State University College of Technology classroom Feb. 17, 2015. The FAA has granted the university authorization to operate unmanned vehicles at Terre Haute International Airport and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville.

Contact: Don Bonte, director, Center for Unmanned Systems and Human Capital Development, Indiana State University, 812-237-2641 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or