Florida possesses a lot of the same advantages as California -- a robust existing aerospace and military presence, a vast maritime environment for UAS testing, easygoing year-round weather for flight testing. But there's another reason to like Florida: Education. Between NASA's Space Coast and a sizeable military aerospace presence, Florida is already home to a workforce of highly-skilled aerospace personnel -- many of whom are currently looking for something new to occupy them as the Space Shuttle program has wound down -- and it's generating more all the time. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach is one of the few American universities offering a specialized program in UAS design and operations -- something UAS designers and manufacturers desperately need as their industry grows (UAS engineering is more like a blend of the traditional disciplines of aeronautical, electrical, and software engineering, plus a minor in robotics). AUVSI lists Florida as No. 4 in its ranking of states poised to benefit from the integration of UAS into the national airspace, but with such a solid aerospace engineering foundation, it wouldn't be surprising if it were to challenge Texas for its number three slot.
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