UND President Mark Kennedy and other UND officials participated in the 2018 Drone Focus conference in Fargo on Thursday afternoon.

Grant McGimpsey, UND vice president for research and economic development, said Kennedy's speech during the conference primarily focused on keeping North Dakota ahead in the unmanned aircraft systems industry. Other states, like New York, have been making advances in the UAS industry over the past few years.

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"In order for us to stay on top we're going to have to make investments here in North Dakota and particularly in the research universities in the state because that's where almost all of the UAS innovation has been coming from, primarily out of UND," he said. "If we want to continue to lead we need to continue to invest."

The North Dakota Department of Transportation was among 10 entities selected for the federal Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program earlier this month, Mark Askelson, interim director of the UND Research Institute for Autonomous Systems, said.