The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded $90,000 in grant funding to train 40 high school teachers in drone fundamentals, as well as to equip each educator with a multi-rotor drone to use with their own students.
The grant, intended to address the growing need for operators and technicians in the field of drones, has been awarded to Northwestern Michigan College (NMC).
NMC says the competition for the grant was “rigorous.” But the community college has some experience in responding to FAA opportunities. In 2020, NMC became the only institute in Michigan to be selected by the FAA for UAS Collegiate Training Program.
It also helps that NMC has been running a UAS program since 2010, operating a fleet of drones that rivals much larger universities.
The $90,000 grant coincides with a statewide push for high school career and technical education programs to begin drone training. It will help to equip high school teachers with the skills, knowledge, technology, and certifications required to develop new drone programs or update existing ones – making the pathway to industry and employment more attainable.
As NMC UAS program manager Tony Sauerbrey points out:
NMC has been at the forefront of UAS education since we launched the program in 2010. This is another great example of how the program continues to innovate and lead for the benefit of our students.
Teachers from around the state will be able to participate in the training, which is expected to occur in summer 2022 at NMC’s private airfield in Yuba.
Upon completion, the 40 teachers will be able to safely conduct a complete flight from startup to shutdown, without instructor intervention. System calibration, setup, troubleshooting, and best operating practices will be included to address typical issues seen in the field and with new pilots. Each teacher will also take a 10-week Remote Pilot Test Preparation course online. Passing the FAA Remote Pilot Certification exam constitutes completion and is required to operate drones commercially.