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ISight Drone Services commits $10,000 to UAS Program scholarships

Grand Forks-based UAS company will award two $1,000 scholarships each year for five years

Photo courtesy of ISight Drone Services.

Becoming the first UAS company to invest in scholarships for the University of North Dakota’s UAS Program, ISight Drone Services has committed $10,000 in funding for the next five years.

Each year, starting this spring, two student applicants will receive $1,000 toward UAS flight costs at the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

According to Paul Snyder, director of the UAS Program, the ISight Drone Services scholarships will be available specifically to seniors enrolled in Aviation 419, a course concerning small UAS commercial operations.

ISight Drone Services, a Grand Forks-based company led by CEO and UND alum Tommy Kenville, is an international drone service provider that uses UAS to conduct inspections and surveys for precision agriculture, wildlife management and construction sites, as well as energy and utility facilities.

“ISight looks at these scholarships as a way to give back to future graduates,” Kenville said. “We were all seniors in college at one point, and that’s when you usually run into tighter finances.

“We have hired around 25 UAS pilots from UND Aerospace. If it wasn’t for the UAS Program, ISight wouldn’t have been able to grow at the rate we’ve achieved.”

With offices in Grand Forks, Fargo, Watford City and Minneapolis, ISight Drone Services operates across the country and beyond. By supporting students currently enrolled at UND, Kenville’s goal is to expand ISight’s operations by offering jobs to highly qualified people already in North Dakota. He and Nathan Leben, co-founder of ISight and a fellow UND alum, expressed appreciation for UND’s UAS Program.

“UND’s activity in the UAS industry is critical,” Kenville said. “The talent coming out of the UAS Program is excellent and very much helps our company’s fast-paced trajectory.”

Photo courtesy of ISight Drone Services.

Support for current and future students

This scholarship commitment from a drone service provider is the first of its kind for UND’s UAS Program. Robert Kraus, dean of UND Aerospace, said the scholarship will enable more students to complete their UND degrees and jumpstart their careers in a growing industry.

Though the application process for the scholarships is still being determined, requirements for applicants include enrollment in Aviation 419, a GPA of 3.0 or higher and an expressed desire to be employed as a UAS operator for a drone services organization.

“ISight has long been a supporter of our UAS programs by hiring our graduates, and we appreciate their support of our current and future students,” Kraus said. “The scholarship is a testament to the quality of the graduates who have already passed through our doors.”

In a rapidly changing industry, it’s valuable to maintain relationships that provide feedback to UND on the needed knowledge, skills and experience to succeed in UAS careers, Snyder said. UND Aerospace is consistently adapting what is taught in order to meet the industry’s needs, and the hope is to continue working with various employers – including ISight – that hire UAS Operations graduates, he added.

“If we’re to remain relevant and meet the needs of the UAS workforce, we need to ensure all students can succeed in a dynamic environment while also being nimble and adaptive to consistent changes happening in the industry,” Snyder said. “We’re fortunate to be able to work so closely with a leading company like ISight Drone Services. They are leading the way to help us meet the future workforce needs in UAS operations.”