Science & Technology Grant Supports SPP Collaborations

SPP interim director Charlie Schweik is one of the collaborators on a project recently funded through the UMass President's Science and Technology (S&T) Initiatives Fund.

The $100,000 grant will support research and education on the use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs), sometimes referred to as drones.

The grant follows a smaller planning grant provided to Schweik and his collaborators last year by the President's Office to lay the groundwork for the collaboration. 

According to Schweik, "This grant provides important and continuing connections between the School of Public Policy and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the College of Natural Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the School of Earth and Sustainability"

Off-campus partners include faculty at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and staff at the UMass Cranberry Station in East Wareham.

"Along with funding recently obtained by [Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering] Mike Knodler and colleagues at the UMass Transportation Center, the President's award will support the establishment of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Research and Educational Collaborative (UASREC)," adds Schweik. "Central to the project is the development of faculty fellows across the UMass system."

Announced May 17 by President Marty Meehan, the grant joins eight other projects funded this cycle through the S&T Initiatives Fund.

“These funds empower our faculty, strengthen our research enterprise, and spur breakthroughs that boost the economy and improve lives,” President Meehan said. “I’m proud to support our faculty while advancing our critical mission as a world-class public research university.”

Now in its 14th year, the S&T fund accelerates research activity across all five UMass campuses, drives partnerships with state industry, and positions researchers to attract larger investments from external sources to expand the scope of their projects.

Schweik, a joint faculty member in environmental conservation and public policy, originally became interested in the use of UASs as a tool in the identification and remediation of invasive species, and through innovative GIS applications. Schweik regularly teaches GIS courses, and this past spring co-taught an interdisciplinary, project-based class on UASs that covered the basics of flight and an overview of UAS operations and applications. 

More about Schweik is available here. A press release from the UMass President's Office about all nine of this year's S&T initiative grants is available here.