Va. community college to offer class in drones

WASHINGTON — Virginia has been in the forefront of drone use for a while: In July, the first Federal Aviation Administration-approved drone delivery brought medical supplies to the rural southwest corner of the state. Now a community college is offering drone classes to get students ready for jobs in the burgeoning industry.

Germanna Community College’s Daniel Technology Center, in Culpeper, will offer Drones 101, a commercial application class, beginning Nov. 14. An advanced class also will be offered.

The students will learn to fly drones and much more, says Ben Sherman, Germanna Community College’s business and career coordinator.

“The students will learn the history of drones [and] ethics and safety aspects of drones. They’ll also learn the continuously changing rules of the FAA — how to abide by all the rules.”

Students will learn drone maintenance and software programming, including how to download information the drone has collected and how to process it.

“They’ll also go through all the aspects of the transmitters. They will also then go into the physics of the propulsion and the different aspects of the electronics that are involved.”

Sherman says the applications for commercial drone use are endless: Uses can include inspections of roadways and power lines, and in the construction industry for everything from roof inspections to documenting the progress of building projects.

Right now drones are used for such things as monitoring farm crops and photographing real estate. Amazon wants to use drones for deliveries.

A recent study predicts the commercial use of drones will add 100,000 jobs and $82 billion to the U.S. economy by the year 2025.

The FAA still hasn’t passed rules on drone use. They were supposed to have been done last month, but various reports say it could take at least another six months. Mike Zitz, Germanna’s director of media and community relations, says that, due to safety concerns, the FAA will require commercial drone fliers to earn a certification.

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