Nevada looks at ‘drones’ for economic development

A Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial System sits on the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

A Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial System sits on the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, may be relatively small, but could have a big impact on Nevada’s economy and natural resources, especially when the necessary pieces and experts come together to do the work and research.

To that end, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the University’s Center for Economic Development at the College of Business, is holding a public workshop on unmanned aerial systems, with a focus on how communities in Nevada can become involved with this economic initiative. The workshop will be broadcast 9 a.m.–3 p.m., on Nov. 18 from Cooperative Extension’s Lifelong Learning Center in Las Vegas via videoconference to 16 locations in Nevada, including the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

The workshop has three parts. Morning presentations will be about efforts to bring the unmanned aerial systems industry to Nevada, a lunch panel will introduce representatives from the Nevada System of Higher Education who are involved in UAS research and instructional efforts, and an afternoon session will focus on applications and economic incentives.

The lunch panel, convened by Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and Mark Walker, dean of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, will introduce faculty involved in UAS program development from the Nevada System of Higher Education. The panel members will discuss potential applications for unmanned aerial systems, such as natural resource surveying, mapping and management.

Naval Air Station Fallon has been one of the locations mentioned as a possible site for testing drones.

Panel members include the following:

Lynn Fenstemaker, associate research professor of biology at the Desert Research Institute;

Kam Leang, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Engineering; and

Rama Venkat, dean of the College of Engineering at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“The Governor’s Office is excited about this aspect of the state’s economic development,” said Fred Steinmann, Eureka County Extension educator, who put together the workshop. “The Governor’s Office partnered with Cooperative Extension to help reach Nevada’s communities, knowing our connection with the state’s counties and our work in community development. Engaging and enhancing Nevada’s communities and businesses is what we’re about, so it’s a great fit. Along with our colleagues in Engineering, Science, Agriculture and Business, we’re really excited about the potential we think this new industry holds for Nevada communities.”

The cost of the workshop is $25. It will be held at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Lifelong Learning Center, 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, and via videoconference:

On the University of Nevada, Reno campus in the National Judicial College, Room 116.

At the Washoe County Cooperative Extension Office, 4955 Energy Way, Reno.

At Cooperative Extension offices in Carson City, Minden, Fallon, Elko, Ely, Eureka, Hawthorne, Winnemucca, Yerington, Tonopah, Logandale, Caliente and Pahrump. See for office locations.

At Battle Mountain General Hospital in Battle Mountain, 535 S. Humboldt St.

For information or to register, contact Steinmann at or 775-784-1931.


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