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A new proposal for classes at LPC seeks to give students an affordable path to careers involving drones and drone technology.

On Sept. 8th 2021, professor Dan Cearley presented three non-credit aviation (NAVI) courses to the academic senate.

Upon completion of the classes, students would be able to meet Federal Aviation Agency standards and open a swath of drone-related opportunities in fields such as viticulture, law enforcement and media.

“Given that drone technology is cost prohibitive, and the FAA requires certification for commercial use,” Cearley said, “this program would provide an equitable alternative to other fee-based instruction. The objective of the program is to prepare students to successfully pass the FAA certification exam and train students in real-life scenarios that reflect industry trends and applications that our existing academic programs represent.”

The classes will be divided into three parts: an introduction to drones, then a series of projects, and then the completion of the FAA pilot exam. The curriculum will cover drone-mapping, photography and piloting. Cearley said students can expect hands-on interaction with drones. They will learn to fly using obstacle courses while learning how to combine their new-found drone skills with other more common abilities.

The drone itself captures data, like photography or videos, which needs to be edited into deliverable, easy to share content. So although the course is about drones, Cearley said some of the focus will include writing narratives and working in graphics and photography to create polished projects.

According to a 2016 fiscal report conducted by the Aviation Administration, the number of small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) units sold per year are steadily increasing. As a result, the predicted demand for FAA certified pilots in 2020 more than doubled in comparison to 2016, whereas the rate of employment is rapidly decreasing. These potential NAVI classes seek to fill that employment gap and prepare Las Positas students to snatch some of those available opportunities.

Sophia Sipe is a writer for The Express. Follow her @SophiaSipe

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