New college classes cover drone technology for farmers

As of June, 2016, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) requires that “a person operating a small UAS must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate (remote pilot in command”, UAS being an Unmanned Aerial System, widely known as — you’ve guessed it — a drone.

This created a large demand for drone training, with multiple colleges offering certificates, bachelor’s and postgraduate degrees on everything drone-related, from piloting to engineering. Drone education is more relevant than ever, considering that the combined commercial and military demand from drones will generate over 100,000 new jobs by 2025, with an estimated economic impact of $82 million.

Of course, career opportunities for students wishing to find themselves in drone industry are very bright, but what about applied studies for those undertaking other degrees?

Realizing that other professionals may benefit from learning more about drones, Piedmont Virginia Community College recently started offering a drone certification class for farmers who are keen to start using #dronesforgood to their advantage.

The college was the first in the nation to receive approval from the FAA to conduct research and development of drones, including those used for public safety. Previously only offered to emergency services personnel, the innovative course is now extended to farmers.

The FAA certification course covers aspects such as operating drones and extracting valuable data from them. This knowledge enables farmers to make their precision practices more efficient, offering considerable improvement for various aspects of farming, from field assessments to precise pesticide/fungicide applications.

In addition, those undertaking the course become familiar with FAA regulation, as well as to the technology and capabilities behind drones.

The class, however, is very small, only taking in 12 lucky students. Hopefully, more colleges will follow the lead of the Piedmont Virginia Community College in the near future, providing valuable drone education to different professionals.