Clarkson University adds second unmanned aerial vehicle to research fleet
Saturday, May 10, 2014 - 4:25 pm

POTSDAM -- Clarkson University has added another unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, to its unmanned aerial systems research team.

The Golden Eagle II (GE2), originally designed to be a teaching tool, begins its life as a research aircraft this summer.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently selected operators of six unmanned aircraft systems research and test sites across the country. Clarkson University is part of the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR,, a regional partnership of industry, academia, and the military, working to establish one of the FAA-designated test sites. The partnership’s goal is to safely integrate unmanned vehicles and associated systems into the FAA-administered National Airspace System.

“It is an exciting time,” says Pier Marzocca, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering and UAS “mission commander.”

“We will be able to further explore the potentials of using our UAS for research and will provide support for the commercial development of technologies, from ‘sense and avoid’ to command and control, helping the safe integration of UAS into the complex air traffic systems, and the development of a variety of scientific payloads.”

The GE2 project began during the upgrade of components for its older sister, the Golden Eagle I. Primarily designed, analyzed, and built by Clarkson undergraduate students, its value as a teaching aid has exceeded expectations.

In the process, Clarkson students have been introduced to a range of skills and experience. Discussions of basic aircraft components, fundamentals of flight, and composite fabrication were a common subject over summer build sessions, according to a press release from the university. More experienced students acted as team leaders and played a role in the performance analysis of the UAV.

The new aircraft was designed to be an improvement across the board over the GE1. It can carry nearly twice the payload, has a higher cruise speed, and is predicted to be more stable, all with the same weight as the GE1.

Field testing is expected to begin this summer.

Upcoming projects include measuring environmental conditions and mapping turbulence above a small Adirondack lake, surveying the Long Island Sound ecosystem to support its environmental management, and mapping ice thickness in the Arctic.