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Drone Training Curriculum Tested in Community College

Drone Training Curriculum Coming to High Schools

A drone training company based in New York recently completed a successful pilot of its training curriculum. SkyOp tested its SkyOp drone training curriculum in a community college located in the same state. According to the company, the program was so successful, the U.S. Department of Labor's Job Corps is making plans to adopt it for training in high schools, college credit programs, workforce development and continuing education.

The curriculum teaches students to fly drones and prepares them to take the FAA Part 107 pilot exam. The training program also uses hands-on work with data collection and analysis tools used in the drone industry. The company produces courses for industry, government and education, both at the K-12 and college levels.

Through a proprietary learning management system, SkyOp intended to deliver content continually updated to adhere to the latest regulations. The six core components of the curriculum cover 300 hours of instruction and coursework including:

  • An introduction to drones, which gives students an overview of drones, how they function and fly with and without GPS, and how they're currently being used for commercial and public safety applications;

  • Part 107 test preparation, to help students learn safety and operational requirements for passing the Federal Aviation Agency's remote pilot test and become licensed drone pilots;

  • Hands-on drone flight training on an industry-grade drone;

  • Drone photo and video production, which will allow students to use their flight skills to capture aerial imagery (both photos and video) and learn how to work with the results in popular digital editing software to create video productions;

  • Introduction to autonomous drone apps with hands-on flight training, covering programming of "autonomous missions" to help students become proficient in running these protocols, which are behind many commercial drone deployments; and

  • Introduction to Pix4D, an advanced photogrammetry application that turns data into visual representations, including orthomosaic mapping, 3D modeling, point clouds, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and geographic information systems.

The company said it has also created a 90-hour subset of lessons that can be integrated into other courses, covering the introductory content and the remote pilot license preparation.

The curriculum was tested at New York's Hudson Valley Community College, under a program put together by the U.S. Job Corps in Oneonta, NY. The college has been offering drone-related training for several years. The latest offering drew applicants from around the country. Based on the results of that effort, the Job Corps intends to expand the program, SkyOp reported. The Oneonta center, which educates young people between 16 and 24 in career and technical education topics, delivers multiple 18-month training programs in automotive and machine repair, construction, healthcare. Students live on campus while taking courses.

"SkyOp has allowed us to take our drone pilot training to the next flight level," said Academy Director, Chris Kuhn, in a statement. "When it comes to getting jobs, learning to fly a drone is just the beginning. The SkyOp program goes way beyond preparing students for the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot exam, to include various flight applications, data collection practices and understanding the useful work drones can deliver."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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