Lake Area Technical College hosted its first drone camp for high school students Friday with high school students from South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota in attendance.
The drone camp taught a number of things, including how to fly a racing drone and how to program and write code. Each student also got to build and keep a drone of their own. The students also toured some of the college campus.
LATC hosted the event to encourage the next generation to consider becoming a commercial drone pilot as a future career.
“If you become a commercial drone pilot, you can get paid to fly,” said Carter Gilk, LATC’s chief flight instructor. “When you’re in the air, you have to think differently than you do when you’re walking across the street. This training will help make you a really good drone pilot.”
Gilk explained that LATC’s new commercial drone piloting certificate would go hand-in-hand with their current aviation piloting program.
“You will fly drones, collect data, manipulate and present the data. We are the front edge of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) programs,” said Gilk.
Michael Klarenbeek was a guest speaker for the event and discussed with the students how drones are the future, but the industry will need a workforce that can fly them. Klarenbeek is a Federal Aviation Administration certified flight instructor and drone pilot.
“Safety, cost and efficiency is something that every company wants to improve. Drone technology benefits all three of these areas,” said Klarenbeek. “In this industry, you have to be agile and willing to learn consistently. It is changing all the time.”
Klarenbeek showed the students the wide array of fields and uses that drones are capable of. Keeping people safe is one of the biggest benefits of using unmanned aircraft. This is particularly true when surveying areas and keeping police, fire and rescue teams safe.
“They reduce the need for people to enter dangerous areas,” he said.
Drone technology also works more accurately and more affordably than traditional ways of surveying.
“When mapping a quarry, a surveyor would go with a GPS pole and take shots. But then you aren’t getting the best measurements. Drone technology can map this area very quickly and with better accuracy. It is much faster than the traditional way,” said Klarenbeek.
Drones can do a wide variety of things that will save businesses money. The demand for drone pilots is quickly growing, and LATC is trying to keep ahead of the curve by providing a commercial drone license. The hope is that with their students being both trained in aircraft and commercial drone piloting, they will be in a position to train other drone pilots in the future.
With drones becoming more popular and accessible, the FAA wants to ensure that the public is aware of drone regulations and how to operate them safely. The FAA works with educational entities like LATC and the aviation industry to provide safety materials and online tests for recreational flyers so that they can be compliant with the FAA guidelines for drones.
Students who attended the drone training at LATC took the test and received their recreational drone piloting certificate.
For more information or if you are a recreational flyer looking to access The Recreational UAS Safety Test, visit: www.lakeareatech.edu.