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Clarkson’s Marzocca recognized for drone work

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POTSDAM — Pier Marzocca has his eyes on the sky.

Mr. Marzocca, a Clarkson University associate professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering, was given the Forest R. McFarland Award by the SAE International, formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers, for gathering and disseminating information on unmanned aircraft, or drones.

“This year, we have organized about 13 sessions about the systems. There will be a number of presentations where we have leading figures from industry, government and academia getting together to discuss current and future problems related to unmanned aerial systems,” he said. “We talk about the problems in security, safety, specification, FAA regulations and approval for the use in national airspace. These are things we need to discuss now as usage increases.”

Though drones are most known for their military applications, they have a number of peaceful uses, Mr. Marzocca said.

“We are looking forward to seeing growing usage, not only as it has been done historically in military, but there are so many other applications in industry, like law enforcement, monitoring cornfields and pipelines,” he said. “There are a number of businesses interested in seeing this technology open up.”

Clarkson University is using an unmanned aircraft for some of its research.

“We have partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy,” he said. “We have used an unmanned vehicle for monitoring and measuring wind profiles in the vicinity of wind farms. There is a lack of knowledge about how the wind goes by the wind farm. Possibly we can take the knowledge we gain to design a better wind farm and we can use the turbines in a way that produces more power.”

Mr. Marzocca is chairman of the society’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Technical Committee.

“There isn’t much information about them,” he said. “It isn’t well distributed and, because of their military applications, they are perceived as dangerous.”

The McFarland award recognizes individuals for contributions to developing, collecting and distributing technical information of value to society.

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