Drone program lifts off

LCC students can now enroll in a drone-flying program


Lane Community College’s two-year drone pilot program launched at the beginning of the current term, giving students virtual and hands-on experience with flying drones.

The college formed this program in Commercial Unmanned Aerial Systems in response to the increasing popularity of drones. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts that 2.7 million “commercial small UAS requiring registration” will be sold in 2020, an increase of more than 2 million drones.

In an interview with the college, Dean of the Advanced Technology Division Pat O’Connor cited various ways that UAS can be applied today, including “mapping, firefighting, real estate surveying, building inspections.

The courses that comprise the program aim to develop students into “safe and proficient drone pilots.” Students will learn basics in drone operation as well as prepare for testing to receive both a Private Pilot’s License and a Remote Pilot’s License.

As of fall term, the two classes available are UAS Commercial Test Prep and UAS Flight Lab. The classes not only train students to pilot safely in a variety of situations, but also teach students how to build, program and fix drones, according to Sean Parrish, lead faculty member. The Flight Lab will also include first-person drone pilot training.

“It involves simulator training in the first part of the term and more hands-on drone flight towards the latter part of the term,” Parrish said.

Students who complete this program will obtain a two-year associate of applied science degree, a certificate in aerial photography and a certificate in geographic information science.