Fletcher Technical Community College is creating its first drone program to teach students about the technology inside an unmanned aircraft system.
The 40-hour program, enabled by a $95,000 state grant, will start out as a multi-day workshop that will fulfill students’ hour requirements on their way to becoming certified drone pilots. Aside from the basics of flying a drone, the workshop will teach participants about the inner workings of different drones, their sensors and data analysis programs.
Fletcher Dean of STEM Clint Coleman said the college is still building the program but plans to have its first workshop in July or August.
The program came about after discussions with local industry leaders and Houma-Terrebonne Airport officials.
“This was something that was being asked for,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in the area for drone operators that know what they’re doing.”
He said flying is the simple part of the program, and businesses will be looking for people who can understand the data that the drones gather.
Drones are being used across a wide range of industries and uses, from analyzing nutrients in fields in agriculture to inspecting pipelines in the energy industry.
“This is the next wave of technology that’s going to be in almost every single industry,” said Coleman.
The grant will be used to purchase around a dozen drones to use in the workshop.
“These efforts are supported by the diligent and progressive work of our team at Fletcher and the generosity of those who continue to help us provide the best training possible in the latest technological advancements,” Fletcher Chancellor Kristine Strickland said in a May news release.
After taking the workshop, students will have to drive to New Orleans or Lafayette to take the Federal Aviation Administration ground school exam at a certified testing center. Coleman hopes Fletcher will eventually become a testing site as the program grows.
He said the college plans to keep the noncredit workshop affordable, but pricing hasn’t been released.
By Halle Parker / Staff Writer; houmatoday.com