Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Sam Houston State University has established an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Advisory Committee (UASAC) to ensure UAS/UAV’s operated on behalf of SHSU meet all state, federal, safety, institutional, ethical, and community standards and requirements related to research.


A world where unmanned aircraft systems are safely and responsibly used to improve lives.


To develop university policy governing research involving UAS while ensuring that activities involving UAS are safe, responsible, and legally complies with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


  • Serve as the oversight committee that reviews requests from individual researchers whose research will involve UAS.
  • Monitor the FAA and other state and federal regulations regarding UAS to ensure that the University is up-to-date all current UAS legislation.
  • Review complaints from individuals who allege that studies conducted at the University have been in violation of University policy on research with UAS.
  • Provide training and education to University researchers interested in utilizing UAS technology in their research.
  • Recommends policy or procedures pertaining to UAS operations in research to the University’s Office of the President.
  • Conduct safe, efficient, effective operations in support of our mission.

Texas State University System (TSUS) policy prohibits the purchase and/or use of technologies and/or manufacturers of technologies listed on the Department of Information Resources (DIR) Prohibited Technologies website as required by Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s December 7, 2022 directive to all Texas state agencies. Sam Houston State University, as a TSUS member institution, must comply with this System policy.

The UAS committee has identified SZ DJI, the maker of DJI drones, on the DIR Prohibited Technologies list. As these drones are now prohibited from purchase and use, effective immediately the UAS committee will not approve flight requests using DJI drones nor the SHSU purchase of DJI drones. The committee recommends, and can assist with, identifying an alternate manufacturer.

For more information, please see the SHSU Prohibited Technologies website.

  • Policy & Application
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  • FAQ

    Q: Definition of a UAS vs. UAV vs. Drone?

    A: The acronym UAS stands for unmanned aircraft systems and includes the platform (unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV]), payload, control station, avionics, and the pilot or operator. UAS, on the other hand, refer to UAVs that may be programmed remotely to complete a task. Only FAA operators approved by the UAS Committee in accordance with university policy will use UAS in campus research, ensuring there is always a human element in command.

    Q: Steps being taken to ensure the safety of individuals, animals, buildings, and the environment?

    A: All approved SHSU research UAS will be used in accordance with the current federal, state, and city law, regulations and ordinances, as well as University policy and TSUS Rules and Regulations.

    Q: How do I begin planning to use a UAS in my research project?

    A: Start by reading and reviewing the current SHSU Policy (President’s Office Policy PRE-27). Then make an appointment with Ms. Sharla Miles, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs UAS consultant or Dr. John Wilson, Chair of the UAS Committee and member of the Physics faculty. Note: You are no longer required to obtain a COA or a 333 Exemption; however, you will be required to take and pass the FAA written examination. The results of this exam must be submitted with your UAS application request.

    Q: Can I borrow a SHSU UAS for my project?

    A: At this time, we do not have UASs available for rent.

    Q: Can I create and fly my own UAS for my project?

    A: In the interest of having your COA (Certificate of Authorization) approved, it is recommended that you purchase a UAS that has already been approved on previous COAs by the FAA.

    Q: When and where will SHSU be flying UASs for research?

    A: FAA regulations only allow UAS flights in daylight, during good weather, and in areas of limited for UAS use. Specific information as to where and when flights will take place will be posted to the SHSU UAS website as it becomes available. FAA will not permit nighttime flights; but the new final rule said this prohibition can be waived only in limited circumstances. Contact the ORSP to discuss your specific waiver request.

    Q: How does a UAS avoid impacting the safe operations of other aircraft in our area?

    A: A notice to airmen (NOTAM) is filed with the FAA and local air traffic control facilities identifying UAS operations in the area. Every pilot is encouraged by the FAA to check all local area NOTAMs prior to flight.

  • Committee Members

    For questions, issues, or concerns regarding the process for obtaining approval for use of an UAS, please contact the following individuals:

    Sharla Miles, Coordinator, UAS Committee
    Phone: 936.294.4875

    UAS Committee Members

    Haley Carter - Committee Chair

    Chris Standerfer

    Mark Shiflet

    Art Wolfskill

    Paul Morris

    Mauri Smith

    Steven Frey

    Ex-officio Member: Chad Hargrave

  • Resources

    FAA and Federal Regulations 

    The FAA is requiring UAS registration. All owners of small UAS weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 lbs.) and less than 55 lbs. must register using this new system. For all other UAS, registration is required prior to operation. Click here to register and learn more about.

    State of Texas Laws

    Please download and review them.

    Online Resources

    • Don’t Fly UAS Here: This No-Fly Zones map represent where it is not recommended to fly UAS due to regulations. It is not comprehensive.
    • UAS Law Journal