NMSU’s Physical Science Lab partners with USDA for workshop series

Marcella Shelby, New Mexico State University
Published 2:36 p.m. MT Oct. 10, 2020


LAS CRUCES – Small unmanned aircraft system virtual workshops were held by staff from New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory in collaboration with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Scientific Computing Program Sept. 30 and Oct. 7. Scientists want to expand research opportunities, and sUAS are a way of collecting more and new data. The PSL team was asked by the USDA ARS to help guide new potential sUAS users on the best practice approaches to safely and effectively using this technology for research.

When registration for the two workshops opened Sept. 3, spots quickly filled and were at capacity in less than 24 hours. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, 50 USDA employees from across the country attended the virtual training on Zoom developed and conducted by Joseph Millette, NMSU/PSL’s UAS subject matter expert and lead pilot. PSL hopes to conduct an additional workshop later this fall.

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“NMSU/PSL’s FAA Designated UAS Flight Test Site performed a series of sUAS Workshops for USDA/ARS. The first workshop in the series focused on researchers looking to integrate sUAS operations to collect data. The second workshop, held on October 7 was specifically for sUAS pilots and focused on operations planning and safety,” Millette said. “The turnout was great. The questions that I received were very intuitive and allowed us to have good conversations on the subject. NMSU/PSL is looking forward to performing the next workshop and sharing its expertise with USDA ARS so that they can achieve a successful sUAS Program.”

“Taking a systematic approach to developing a robust UAS program ensures that participating organizations will take to the skies quickly, safely, efficiently and cost-effectively,” said Henry Cathey, division director for PSL’s Aerospace Programs. “There is a process to safely implement these programs and to ensure success. PSL is excited to support this work.”

For more information contact Millette at jmillette@psl.nmsu.edu, Cathey at hcathey@psl.nmsu.edu or Debra Peters with USDA Agricultural Research Service at deb.peters@usda.gov.

Marcella Shelby writes for New Mexico State University Communications and Marketing and can be reached at 575-527-7560, or by email at marcmart@nmsu.edu.

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