February 17, 2014
A course in drone piloting will likely be available to students at the Central Oregon Community College this fall, as schools across the country begin offering degrees in unmanned aerial systems.
Just last December, the Federal Aviation Administration approved Oregon’s request to become one of the country’s six designated drone testing sites. As the agency predicts more than 30,000 drones over US skies by 2020, educators are jumping at the opportunity.
“This could be one of the next biggest opportunities for employment here in the future,” COCC Aviation Program Coordinator Karl Baldessari told KTVZ News.
The two-year course, which offers a degree in commercial drone use, will give students hands-on experience in the field as well as in the college’s UAV simulation lab, which is currently awaiting approval.
“Our intent is to include actual launches and recoveries, and take our students out locally,” Baldessari said.
Although government drone use is undoubtedly set to increase as well, Baldessari pointed to agriculture, rescue and firefighting uses as the likeliest avenues following graduation.
“The base of all our applications will be real-time commercial uses,” Baldessari said. “We may be leading the pack, at least here in our area.”
Aviation students were also supportive of the class, specifically mentioning different employment possibilities outside of government surveillance.
“There’s a lot of growth potential in the UAV industry. You can assist manned aircraft, do search and rescue operations,” student Tyler Leslie said.
COCC is joined by several other schools across the country in areas with similar FAA designation as well, such as the Atlantic Cape Community College in South Jersey.
“More than likely in the future this course will be the first course towards a series of courses that’ll lead to the certification or degree in U-A-S System Operations,” said ACCC Dean of Career and Technical Education Dr. Otto Hernandez.
While there are countless positive uses for unmanned aerial vehicles, the economy’s continued deterioration seemingly ensures a state monopoly on employment surrounding surveillance-capable technology.
As the private sector attempts to get ahead of the coming wave, government drone use for surveillance purposes has long been implemented on the domestic front.
In fact, drone lobbyist Paul Applewhite recently made comments supporting “lethal force” within the United States last February, arguing that police and federal agencies should be trusted to use deadly drones against Americans.
While some states representatives move to put drone guidelines in place ahead of the coming industry boom, others such as physicist Stephen Hawking are warning of technology’s dangerous march towards autonomous robotics.
This post originally appeared at Story Leak