Collaboration allows Bentonville teachers to immerse themselves in advanced air mobility


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The University of Alberta’s Master of Science in Operations Management program and Bentonville schools have collaborated to integrate advanced air mobility workforce training opportunities.

Rich Ham, associate director of the Masters in Operations Management and Engineering Management programs at the College of Engineering, organized a four-day course for 40 Bentonville teachers to help them achieve 107 certification, which will give them provides a Federal Aviation Administration remote pilot certificate. These teachers will educate students in the Bentonville Schools three-year Unmanned Aerial Systems program on regulations, safety, applicability, limitations and restrictions and much more.

The Bentonville Schools program is part of the Career and Technical Education program. As the demand for skilled advanced air mobility workers grows in Northwest Arkansas and around the world, this allows high school graduates to transition directly into the job market.

Toby Nix, vocational and technical training coordinator for Bentonville Schools, said awareness of advanced air mobility is growing, not only in the newly implemented Unmanned Aerial Systems program, but also in student clubs, where they integrate drones into club projects.

Ham, a transportation executive with four decades of experience in safety operations and administration compliance and enforcement, has a wealth of knowledge with his experience and background, Nix said.

“We were very happy to have him work with our teachers. We needed quality instructors and saw the opportunity to collaborate with the community,” Nix said.

As part of the multi-day camp, teachers gained hands-on experience in the field and on the final day they visited Thaden Fieldhouse and Flight School and the DroneUp hub, both in Bentonville, and the Zipline International hub in Pea Ridge, which allowed them to observe a drone launch in action.

“Our teachers were blown away by the real-world component of the drones in action,” Nix said. “It permeates almost every type of industry.”

Ham, who oversees graduate certificates in homeland security and advanced air mobility and teaches advanced air mobility courses for the master’s program in operations management, sees a real benefit in training quality instructors in this area and knows first-hand the demand for trained and qualified personnel. workers in almost every industry where drones are used in daily operations.

“As we see the components of advanced air mobility mature, the need for a highly skilled workforce at all levels is mandatory,” Ham said. “We need drone pilots, operators, sensor specialists, engineers, operations managers, mechanics and supply chain specialists to make this happen. We need to start early to engage students middle and high school to achieve a sustainable workforce.”

Nix added that the Unmanned Aerial Systems program continues to evolve each year and several teachers have completed their remote pilot certifications. The program’s learning objectives overlap in other areas that allow students to gain additional skills in video and audio editing, Adobe certifications, and more.

The university’s Master of Science in Operations Management program offers a two-course micro-certificate in Advanced Air Mobility Autonomous Operations in which students can gain the specialized knowledge and skills earned in FAA Remote Pilot Certification , then continue to graduate four courses. Certificate in Homeland Security, which follows the set of knowledge requirements for Certified Protection Professionals of the American Society of Industry Security. These programs accept students with an undergraduate bachelor’s degree.

The MSOM curriculum began in 1974 and is designed for professionals from a wide range of backgrounds, including business and government operations. Students learn to create value for the production of goods and services while working with suppliers and customers around the world. To learn more about the Master of Science in Operations Management and other graduate certificate programs, visit our website at


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