A University of Louisiana Monroe social media hashtag is #takeflight — and that’s happened when a select group of Louisiana law enforcement, firefighters and first responders were trained in drone technology by the team from the ULM Precision AG and UAS Research Center.

Paul Karlowitz has been on the ground at ULM for more than 20 years teaching aviation and UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) — aka drone — technology in the College of Business and Social Sciences. Karlowitz has 46 years as a professional aviator, including 20 years as a U.S. Air Force pilot.

Karlowitz practically peered into the future, realizing several years ago that the only way for UAS technology, was up.

In 2014 he helped establish and became director of operations for the ULM Precision AG and UAS Research Center.

In fall 2019, Karlowitz’s expertise was tapped by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety to lead its first training class on how to operate and become licensed to fly UAS.

He, along with Stephanie Robinson, aviation major and manager of the research center who is an FAA Part 107 drone pilot, traveled to the LSP Joint Emergency Training Services Center in Zachary weekly from Sept. 19 through Nov. 2 to teach the Friday class. The ULM team gave instructions on the complexities and techniques of managing UAS and FAA Part 107 certification.

In 2018, a $90,000 Delta Regional Authority Workforce Development grant entitled “Training the Trainer Using Unmanned Aerial Systems” was awarded to Karlowitz and other UAS-qualified ULM faculty to teach people how to operate and become certified in UAS.

“There is more to using a UAS than sending it up in your backyard,” Karlowitz said. “These are expensive and complex devices. The technology is advancing rapidly with new applications and uses, including those for law enforcement/fire/first responders. Operators must know how to use the equipment properly, understand the technology, and be certified by the FAA to fly UAS.”

Anyone flying a drone for other than hobby use needs an FAA Part 107 certificate.

“The recent arrangement with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety has proven to be of benefit for all involved,” Karlowitz said. “They needed UAS training along with FAA Part 107 (Remote Pilot Certificate) training. It matched perfectly with our DRA grant.”

“I am absolutely delighted to have had the opportunity to provide the training. When we (ULM) are awarded grant funds, we take it seriously and want to provide the most training possible,” Karlowitz said, adding,

“Without the assistance of Stephanie, I would not be able to have completed this training program. Her help was invaluable.”

Thirty law enforcement/fire/first responders and one officer from the ULM Police Department completed the training.

ULM’s Precision AG and UAS Research Center have been working with cutting edge UAS technology for several years.

The center and the College of Business and Social Sciences UAS Management Program have a national reputation for excellence.

Currently, ULM is one of a select group of universities conducting research on UAS applications for the agriculture industry.

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