While there are currently no universities offering 4-year UAV degrees, there are certainly drone schools in California. For example, Cal Poly Pomona’s College of the Extended University offers the following:
The Small Systems UAV Operator Certificate is a 6-week, single course program that will train you to operate small UAVs (under 55 pounds). The cost is $2495, and it covers the following topics: Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Operations, Regulations, Operations Risk Management and Flight Simulation, Autonomous Flight and Data Collection, Navigation and Mission Planning, Ground Flight Operations, and Flight Day.
Cal Poly’s Extended University also offers an Advanced Unmanned Aerial Systems Certificate that can be a stand-alone program or augment an engineering degree. This is a multiple-course certificate program can be completed in approximately one year.
If you don’t necessarily care about a degree or certificate and just want to learn, DARTdrones offers 1-day classes in Los Angeles and San Francisco at various times throughout the year.
These classes are designed to help beginners “choose the right drone for their needs, understand how to fly legally and safely, and learn to fly.” They also offer FAA exemption filing assistance. You can also get a discount off the price of their training course, if you click on the link above and enter the coupon code: DRNHQ10.
Another company, Drone Universities offers both hands-on training though a variety of courses, and career placement services as well. And while they are based in La Jolla, they also offer UAV courses at various locations throughout California and the county. Definitely worth checking…
There is also Sacramento-based Drone University USA (not to be confused with the company above) which also offers classes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. These are 2-day courses which are “designed for students who are interested in being trained to be a safe, legal and efficient FAA FAR Part 107 commercial sUAS/drone operator.” They also offer 1 full year of free classroom training to all graduates so they can receive the latest information and training for the Part 107 license.
In addition, Unmanned Vehicle University (though based in Arizona) advertises a flight training center in Sacramento, for its UAV Pilot Training Certificate program.
Finally, RotorFx LLC offers UAV training in Van Nuys, CA.
There are also a number of colleges and universities in the Golden State that, while they don’t offer UAV-specific classes as part of their curriculums, have some first-class unmanned aerial vehicle clubs and research groups. Stanford has a UAV club. Other universities boasting noteworthy groups are listed below:
California State University, Fresno (Lyles College of Enigeering)
“The CSUF UAS research group is a multidisciplinary team comprised of Mechanical, Electrical and Computer, and Geomatics Engineering faculty, staff, and students that integrates engineering disciplines of mechanical systems, vibrations, geomatics, power, robotics and control, microcontrollers and embedded systems, communications, and optics.”
California California State University, Fullerton
The College of Engineering and Computer Science has entered teams in the Student Unmanned Aerial Systems competition.
California California State University, Northridge
“CSUN’s “Unmanned Aerial Systems” team that took second place overall in the 10th International UAS competition hosted by AUVSI from June 13-17th in Maryland.”
California Polytechnic State University, Pomona
“A team of engineering students at Cal Poly Pomona is attempting to design and build systems that will allow a helicopter drone to communicate with an unmanned vehicle on land. The project, which involves the cooperation of the school’s sister campus in San Luis Obispo and $30,000 from defense contractor Northrop Grumman, could lead to innovations with a variety of military and civilian applications”
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
A multidisciplinary team of Cal Poly engineering students won the 2014 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) competition sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) at its recent annual regional student conference. Cal Poly’s was one of 15 entries in the competition that featured student teams from universities across the western U.S. The contest challenged students to design, build, and fly a radio-controlled air vehicle capable of maneuvering through obstacles on a small course and dropping a payload on a target within five minutes allotted time, simulating a hypothetical UAV firefighting mission.
If your heart is set on a certification or degree program in drone technology, you may need to go to the neighboring states of Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. Please check out our drone school pages on those states, for specific information on what programs are available.