Drone Class Preps Students for an Industry that’s Taking Off

For Ventura High School Student Franklin Hansen, finding out he could take a course about building and flying drones was a dream come true. “I thought that’s right up my alley because I’m really into mechanics and computers and aviation,” he said. Hansen was among the first students to sign up for the drone class offered by VCOE’s Career Education Center beginning last year.

Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, these remotely controlled aircraft have a wide range of uses ranging from military and law enforcement to agriculture and video production. AUVSI, an industry trade group, estimates UAVs will generate more than 100,000 new jobs and have an economic impact of $82 billion through 2025.
In the cockpit of this new frontier in education is Alan Jaeger, who is also a faculty member of the Naval Postgraduate School. He teaches students at the Career Education Center to design, build and fly drones and gives them an understanding of the risks and regulations surrounding air space and radio transmitters. “To the best of my knowledge this was the first program that was developed and delivered exclusively for high school students in career education as a yearlong comprehensive program,” he said.
The demand for employees with UAV skills is expected to grow in Ventura County thanks to the Navy and high-tech companies such as ERI in Camarillo and AeroVironment in Simi Valley. Jaeger said the CEC’s UAV course gives students a real head start. “So when they go into a job interview, they’re going to have an understanding what UAVs are and have hands-on experience with the technology and a well-rounded perspective of the industry.”

Hansen hopes to find a career that combines his love of UAV technology with his passion for the environment. “There are some researchers who use drones to count birds on islands so they don’t have to disturb the natural habitat. They can fly them over the nesting grounds and count how many chicks and eggs and nests there are on the island and it’s really cool.”

 The Channel Islands Chapter of AUVSI will be holding its 2nd annual symposium on October 23 and students are invited to attend for free. 

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