Drone Opportunities Spur College-Level Course in Michigan

A new program being offered by Mid Michigan College is giving students and hobbyists an up-close look at unmanned aerial systems and their application in the workforce.

by Mitchell Kukulka, Midland Daily News / January 4, 2019

(TNS) — In a time when it seems like everyone is getting a drone, Mid Michigan College is offering professionals and hobbyists alike an opportunity to learn more about the devices and how they can changing everyday business practices.

According to the college website, its "Drone Training" program is designed to teach drone-piloting skills, address the types of drone systems on the market, identify potential uses and industry applications for drones and prepare students to pass the remote pilot knowledge test required for Federal Aviation Administration certification.

All sessions will be taught by Mid Michigan College adjunct faculty member Robert Giuliani.

"The drone field is just exploding — it's becoming a multi-billionaire business," Giuliani said. "It's amazing what's happening in this field."

Giuliani points towards several examples of drone use revolutionizing business practices across the world, like businesses in New Zealand using drones to deliver pizza, and doctors in Missouri developing emergency first-aid kits that can be dropped into areas where emergency crews would not otherwise be able to access.

A highly focused, all-day course developed to prepare participants for the FAA certification test will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 6 at the Morey Technical Education Center in Mount Pleasant. The cost is $495.

"Pretty much anybody can fly a drone nowadays, but do they really understand all of the ramifications, like weather conditions and the restrictions the FAA has produced as far as flying goes," Giuliani said.

He points to the recent incident in Great Britain where Gatwick Airport — the country's second largest airport — had to delay flights for hours on both Dec. 19 and Dec. 21 because people were flying drones close by.

The first session to be offered is titled "Intro to Drones for Public Safety Personnel." The cost of attendance is $1,980. The 24-hour course will take place 6-10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Jan. 31 and continuing Feb. 5, 7, 12, 14 and 19. Classes will take place at the Morey Tech Center. The course will be offered again with classes taking place March 26 and 28, April 2, 4, 9 and 11 at the DTE Renewable Energy Center in Bad Axe.

Giuliani said the session is designed mostly for first-responders and other public safety personnel, and will cover the basics of drone flight and safety, while including additional information regarding how drones can be used in the public safety field — such as searching for someone who is lost, or a suspect who is hiding.

"All these 911 and emergency organizations are buying drones knowing nothing about them and thinking, 'Huh, maybe we should have investigated this a little bit more,'" Giuliani said. "That's what the class partly does — help [firefighters and police departments] decide what kind of drones they should get initially, and also what they're going to use it for."

A shorter, 18-hour course titled "Intro to Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Drones" could potentially begin in February. Giuliani said Mid Michigan College will finalize a schedule in the near future. The course will teach the basics of drone flight, as well as the laws and regulations surrounding it. Dates will be announced on Mid Michigan College's website, and the cost of attendance is $1,490.

Both courses will implement a "training drone" to teach participants how to fly without using a GPS system.

Giuliani also said Mid Michigan College is looking to offer more drone-based courses in the future.

©2019 the Midland Daily News (Midland, Mich.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.