FULTON – Juniors and seniors at G. Ray Bodley High School will soon have the opportunity to become certified drone pilots as part of the school’s new elective course.
Partnered with SkyOp, a drone firm in Canandaigua with offices in Syracuse, a group of 25 students will complete a drone training curriculum.
At the end of the program, which will be 300 hours, and a passing exam, they will be Federal Aviation Administration-certified commercial drone pilots, allowing them to do aerial imaging, collect data and autonomous flight programming.
Director of Technology Dominick Lisi and Executive Director of Instruction and Assessment Elizabeth Conners visited a school in Camden to see the program in action. Lisi told the Board of Education in a meeting Tuesday he was impressed to see how engaged the students were. He said the course is not as easy as it may seem.
Conners said there are no required prerequisites and the students in the program in Camden consisted of a variety of different learning types and abilities.
The course is self directed through digital content. Three teachers will be trained and certified by September to prepare for helping the students during the next academic year.
“We’re thrilled that we have three staff members as well as a tech support person who will be trained in this program because it is excessive for them as well,” Conners said during the meeting. “It’s a lot but we are really excited.”
According to SkyOp, the curriculum includes:
- “Intro to Drones: Students will receive a basic overview of drones, how they function and fly, while also learning to fly effectively without GPS, and discuss how drones are currently being deployed for commercial and public safety use.
- Part 107 Test Prep: Students will gain an understanding of the safety and operational requirements necessary to successfully complete the FAA Unmanned Aircraft – General test and become fully-licensed drone pilots.
- Hands-On Drone Flight Training – DJI Phantom 4 Pro: Students will receive comprehensive outdoor flight training on the versatile DJI Phantom 4 Pro including all of its advanced features.
- Drone Photo and Video Production: Students will use their flight skills to capture outstanding aerial imagery (pictures and video) and then be taught how to manage and manipulate that data in popular digital editing software to create video productions.
- Intro to Autonomous Drone Apps with Hands-On Flight Training: Students will learn to program autonomous missions, becoming proficient in the execution of the autonomous flight protocols which enable many commercial drone deployments.
- Intro to Pix4D: Students will learn how to use an advanced photogrammetry software package to turn raw data into actionable intelligence as they are introduced to orthomosaic mapping, 3D modeling, point clouds, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and more.”
The program is available to 25 students per package. Conners said it is not yet determined how the students will be chosen for the class, but the school will be able to see how many students are interested during an electives fair Jan. 30.
Conners said the curriculum is already purchased and funding has been set aside to train the staff members. In the future, the school district is exploring providing EMT courses and partnering with the Mexico School District and their agriculture technology program.
“We are being innovative,” Conners said in the meeting. “The work that we’re doing is being watched around the state because we are becoming outside the box thinkers, and we’re really providing our kids with opportunities that will serve them in this community.”