AV News: Drone Literacy Expands to Higher Education

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Description: Drone programs are becoming more popular in colleges throughout the country. One technical college in Minnesota has some big ideas for future drone courses.

John Lindstrom got his start in aviation as a commercial helicopter pilot two decades ago.
Now a certified commercial UAV drone pilot, Lindstrom is sharing his knowledge of the FAA’s rules and regulations. He teaches a course at Hennepin Technical College to help students pass the Part 107 test.
“When we got the idea to do this program, it was pretty easy for me to transition from what I had already taught to the unmanned aircraft training.”
The Part 107 course at Hennepin Tech covers everything drone pilots will need to know in order to take the test. While many prep courses are available online, Lindstrom believes their program is unique as it’s offered in person on a college campus.
Lindstrom tells AirVūz that people talking the course say the experience has been positive.
“We’ve had a very diverse number of students — some that were just hobbyists that were curious, some that were already in video production that were looking to add the unmanned platform for their cameras. We’ve had real estate people come in. We’ve had engineering companies send people that are looking at using this in areas where they can enhance their site surveys.”
Hennepin Tech first introduced drones into its curriculum as part of its hazardous materials training program. The hope was to find a way to use drones to to evaluate hazardous situations without putting people at risk.
Now the school hopes to start more drone programs. Lindstrom says Hennepin Tech is in the planning stages of a course that would teach wounded military veterans how to fly drones.
“We realize that aviation has traditionally been for the able-bodied because it requires a pilot to get into and out of an aircraft. In fact, to climb around the aircraft during pre-flight. But there are no physical restraints with the unmanned aircraft, so we felt that this could be an opportunity for people to jump into that aviation industry who would not normally be able to participate.”
The school also hopes to get more women interested. Lindstrom noted that Hennepin Tech hopes for grant money to fund a program bridging the gender gap among drone pilots.
“There’s no question that aviation has always been a male-dominated industry. In my experience, in particular with helicopter training, I had a number of the instructors that came to me and said that the key motor skills — the fine motor skills — that it requires to fly a helicopter tend to be more ingrained in female pilots, that they get it quicker than most male pilots. And because flying an unmanned aircraft is very fine motor skills, we felt that was again a potential target market for us.”

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