UAS Center of Excellence

HSU Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence provides and supports UAS training and certification, UAS research and development (R&D), and UAS test flight operations and evaluation services at HSU Innovation Institutes and STEM Range facilities in Okaloosa County, Northwest Florida. Through unique and highly diverse public private partnerships, this 501c3 not for profit organization is committed to participating in the safe and innovative integration of UAS into the National airspace.

Click here to view the UAS Center of Excellence brochure (PDF opens in a new tab)

HSU Center will provide:

  • Creation of a trained and certified UAS workforce
  • UAS test flight range to further UAS testing, training, and R&D
  • In House Aerospace Engineering
  • FieldWerx collaborative innovation environment in partnership with AFRL and 1SOW
  • Access to 8000 foot runway at Bob Sikes Airport (KCEW)
  • Stimulating economic development in Okaloosa County, Florida
  • Providing Unmanned Aircraft Systems capabilities to aid in disaster response

HSU Innovation Institute North campus is situated on 20 acre parcel on the North end of the 8000 foot runway of Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview. The campus encompasses the HSU UAS Center of Excellence and the Northwest Florida State College Aviation Center of Excellence.

Located just 8 miles north of the HSU Innovation Institute North campus, the HSU STEM Range is 400 acres of rural, diverse topography surrounded by 8000 acres of conservation land. The range is conveniently located in class G airspace, providing a safe and effective environment for UAS flight testing and evaluation, training, research and development.


The HSU Innovation Institute North campus and the resources of the HSU UAS Center of Excellence is strategically connected by a BVLOS (under FAA COA) corridor to develop and test for unmanned traffic management and advanced air mobility research.

Among the many key partnerships of the HSU Educational Foundation, a Master Research and Teaming Agreement with Texas A & M – Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation, provides significant value in the expanded capabilities and resources of the HSU Center.


The HSU Center provides corporate custom training to meet industry needs in a wide scope of applied fields such as agriculture, law enforcement and first responders, intelligence gathering, traffic management, tactical communications, inspections and more. One recent completed contract awarded to the HSU Foundation is the first ever established UAS Training Program for AFSOC Engineering Divisions in the applied use of UAS in building inspections. Educational outreach extends from youth to professional, encouraging and empowering development of a skilled UAS workforce.


THE RECREATIONAL UAS SAFETY TEST HSU Educational Foundation is an FAA-approved Test Administrator of The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). Through collaboration with the FAA, TRUST Test Administrators provide educational safety material to Recreational Flyers and administer testing for certification.




Representing the HSU Educational Foundation in the category of Growing Airport Communities, Chairman Dr. Paul Hsu was appointed by the USDOT Secretary to a two year term of service on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The DAC is a Federal advisory committee that provides the FAA with advice on key UAS integration issues by helping to identify challenges and prioritize improvements. The committee helps to create broad support for an overall integration strategy and vision.


The HSU UAS Center of Excellence capabilities:

  • UAS Operations
  • Technical & program management
  • Sustainment and training
  • Design & systems engineering
  • Integration & testing
  • UAS systems life cycle management
  • Capability design to meet client requirements
  • Integration of systems and sub-systems to create new capabilities
  • Data transport via satellite and other RF techniques
  • Technical and program management
  • Sustainment and training
  • Developmental Test and Evaluation. Can also support Operational Test and Evaluation
  • Capability life cycle management


  • Group I-IV UAS aircraft design
  • Conceptual, Preliminary, & Detail
  • PCB (analog, digital)
  • Servo Actuator (electric and hydraulic)
  • Long range/endurance (gas, electric, hybrid)
  • Structural Optimization

Prototype and Fabrication

  • Group I-IV UAS aircraft design
  • Conceptual, Preliminary, & Detail
  • PCB (analog, digital)
  • Servo Actuator (electric and hydraulic)
  • Long range/endurance (gas, electric, hybrid)
  • Structural Optimization
  • Performance
  • Stability and Control
  • Surrogate UAS testing in full scale variable stability aircraft
  • Flight Control system
  • Systems flight testing
  • Modeling and simulations
  • First Flights
  • Envelope expansion
  • National Airspace, COAS
  • Ground Testing
    • Structural testing
    • Systems testing
      • EMI/RFI
      • Load testing
      • Systems testing
    • Actuator testing
      • Hydraulic and electric
      • Actuator modeling
    • Flight control system testing
    • Data acquisition systems and programming
    • Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulations