As I write this, if you have you’re heart set on a UAV-specific college degree, there is only one school in the state with a UAV degree program. Fortunately, it’s a good one.
Lewis University (in Romeoville, Illinois)
Lewis offers a Bachelor of Science degree program in Unmanned Aircraft Systems. This program promises that its “Operations-focused curriculum combines aviation and Computer Science. You will learn how to design, develop and operate individually-tailored UAS to meet mission objectives through an interdisciplinary curriculum”. They also claim that by graduation, “you will be qualified for a career as a professional UAS/UAV pilot and operator,” having earned your: Private Pilot Certificate (Single Engine Land), Instrument Rating, and Commercial Pilot Certificate (Single Engine Land). Lewis even boasts an on-site airport for hands-on training.
Or maybe you don’t need a college degree, and simply want to learn how to fly UAVs. In that case, DARTdrones offers classes in Chicago on certain days throughout the year.
Their classes offer to help you “learn to fly safely, better understand the FAA rules and regulations, learn the no fly zones, and handle your equipment and software like an expert.” They will also give you a discount off the price of their training courses, if you click on the link above and enter the coupon code: DRNHQ10.
There is also a new Chicago-based UAV service company you should know definitely know about, called Aerovista Innovations. One of their services is training through their Drone Academy, which offers a variety of programs: everything from 1-hour classes for people who have never touched a drone before, to 2-day courses for commercial operators.
It also worth noting that crop researchers at the University of Illinois have been experimenting with the use of drones on the university’s farms, but so far offer no classes. I’ll let you know if the situation changes.