FORT COLLINS — Drones are used for a variety of different reasons, but for students and educators, they are especially useful for research.

To make it easier for students and staff to access drones and professional drone pilots, Colorado State University in Fort Collins launched the CSU Drone Center in September. In just a couple of months, it has already helped with five different research projects at CSU, including plant and soil health.

"It gives people a kind of different dimension they haven't had access to before," said Chris Robertson, coordinator of the CSU Drone Center.

Through the center, students, faculty and staff can check out drones, get permission to fly in university airspace, get assistance with requesting permission to fly in non-university airspace and get assistance with navigating the Federal Aviation Administration's regulations.

"We want to remove the barriers and promote the ability to do drone-enabled research here at CSU," Robertson said. The center also helps students who need drone images for projects and captures images of university-related events.

In the future, Robertson said the long-term goal is to add more drone training on campus, complete with a certification program.

"What we're looking for next is getting the training piece, looking into training pilots, training people with physical skill sets, maybe even bringing some actual {unmanned aircraft system} classes to CSU," Robertson said. "When people exit out of the CSU program in certain areas they can actually have some real life as well as some documented training within the UAS development."