Professional Program in Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)

Certificate in Small Unmanned Aircraft System

Turn your passion into real-world operation and innovation.

Across the globe, small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS; under 55 lbs.) are rapidly transforming businesses and industries as we know them. From individual enthusiasts to major corporations, sUAS users are striving to harness the power of these systems, while keeping up with the industry’s ever-evolving technology and legal regulations. That’s why Embry-Riddle Worldwide created the professional program in small unmanned aircraft systems.

Consisting of three online courses, this non-degree program features the history and design of unmanned aircraft systems, delving into how industries across the board are using them now. You will explore today’s most innovative and exciting sUAS applications, from preventing wildlife poaching to filming blockbusters. You will learn about operating sUAS safely and legally, for both professional and recreational purposes. Most important, you will connect with resources to help you stay current on this quickly changing industry.

If you have a passion for sUAS, these professional education courses will help you take the next step toward effective application and exciting innovation.

Note: This non-degree program does not substitute for a license, degree, certification or required professional credential. A certificate of completion is issued upon successful completion of all three courses.

About the Instructors (Courses may be taught by any of the instructors listed below):

- Brad Opp is an Adjunct Instructor, Course Monitor and Course Developer for the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), Worldwide Campus, College of Aeronautics.  He holds a Master's of Aeronautical Science from ERAU a Master's of Military Operational Art and Science from Air University and a B.S. in General Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy.  He has experience flying for more than eighteen years as a trainer, fighter and unmanned pilot.

- Dr. Tim Holt is an Associate Professor of Aeronautical Science and the Program Chair for the B.S. in Aeronautics degree at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) Prescott campus, Department of Applied Aviation Sciences within the College of Aviation. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Northcentral University, a Master’s of Aeronautical Science degree and B.S. in Professional Aeronautics from ERAU.  He has experience flying for more than twenty-two years as a Naval Aviator, serving as both an instructor and evaluator. 

- Dr. Brent Terwilliger, who developed this three course program, is an Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and the Program Chair for the M.S. in Unmanned Systems degree at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), Worldwide campus, College of Aeronautics. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Northcentral University, a Master’s of Aeronautical Science and B.S. in Aerospace Studies from ERAU, and experience working more than a decade in defense contracting.


Click HERE to see a recent interview with Dr. Terwilliger.

Program Courses

History and Application of sUAS (SUAS 1000)

This introductory course features the history and evolving uses of sUAS. Learn about the role of early aeronautical pioneers, eras of UAS development and example platforms, current and future uses, as well as major factors affecting future use, including an introduction to the operational environment and safety strategies. The curriculum modules include:

  • Early Aeronautical Pioneers and UAS Development
  • Modern UAS Development and Use
  • sUAS Applications
  • Future Use and Challenges
sUAS Design and Configuration (SUAS 1100)

In this course, you will master the various design configurations of fixed-wing and vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) sUAS platforms, including common classifications and primary subsystems. You will also explore the theory of operation and examples components used in the aerial, payload, ground-based command, control, and communication (C3), human, and support equipment elements. The curriculum modules include:

  • Platform Design Configurations - Fixed-wing
  • Platform Design Configurations – VTOL and Others
  • System Composition and Elements
  • Platform Acquisition and Consideration
sUAS Operations and Regulations (SUAS 1200)

This course examines typical operational methods, applicable federal regulations and guidance, methods to locate updated information, planning and risk management strategies employed in aviation, platform and environment use considerations, factors affecting use across multiple industries, and support considerations, including training and insurance. You will also have the opportunity to apply what you have learned to effectively plan and support an example sUAS operation, in compliance with Federal legal requirements. The curriculum modules include:

  • sUAS Operations
  • sUAS Regulatory Framework
  • sUAS Planning Principles
  • sUAS Support
  • When: 


·         SUAS 1000 – Aug 7 – Sept 4 (beginning with this class, there will be a required text) - registration open now

·         SUAS 1100 – Sep 11 – Oct 9 (registration open now)

·         SUAS 1200 – Oct 16 –  Nov 13 (registration open now)


·         SUAS 1000 – Jan 8 – Feb 5

·         SUAS 1100 – Feb 12 – Mar 12

·         SUAS 1200 – Mar 19 – Apr 16

  • Where: Each course will be 4 weeks and will be offered online via Canvas.
  • Who Should Attend: Individuals from industries with interest in using or learning more about sUAS.  These industries include, but are not limited to: agriculture, public safety, mapping and surveying, filming, communications, logistics, conservation, construction, engineering, real estate, insurance, retail, safety and emergency management. 
  • Standard Course Fees: Courses fees are $399 for each course. 

Starting in August 2017, there will be required text for the course.  Price of the text is $39.95:

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Guide, by Brent Terwilliger, David Ison, John Robbins and Dennis Vicenzi

ISBN: ISBN 9781619543942


Ready for takeoff?

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