Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is in the running to be selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to research and develop drone technology.
Being selected to play that role could bring in billions of dollars to the state's economy, along with thousands of jobs.
Kiii News Reporter Michael Gibson went Live at TAMUCC with more details.
University officials are excited about what it could mean for TAMUCC. One benefit is that its engineering department would soon have more drone and robotic technology classes, which would help attract and retain top students.
Of course, TAMUCC students have already been working with drone technology. Earlier in the year, they went to Sarita, Texas, to test out the RS-16.
Unmanned aircraft flight is expected to soar in coming years. A lot of that technology that the University is hoping to develop will be used to study and monitor things like coastal erosion and farm and ranch lands.
The University is approved by the FAA to fly drones, but on top of that, the University applied to become one of six federal program sites around the country that will work to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system. The University is one of two dozen sites around the country still under consideration.
The winners are supposed to be announced at the end of the year, and there is a lot of money and jobs at stake. In Texas alone, it could bring in $7 billion over the next 12 years, and some 8,200 jobs.
"As to our chances, I would certainly stand up our proposal against that of any other state," said Luis Cifuentes, vice president of TAMUCC research. "And I would certainly stand up our airspace against that of any other state, principally because we have a tremendous amount of airspace and not a lot of population, and not a lot of competing air flights."
The University also stands to gain research grant dollars if it is picked as a program site. It will also serve as the headquarters for state drone operations.
Plus, TAMUCC officials believe that being the headquarters of the operation will help to serve as a magnet to attract startup businesses who want to help to drive even more new innovations and technology for the future of unmanned aircraft flights.
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