Agriculture students attending Hutchinson Community College (HCC) in Kansas, are now learning to fly drones and receive their FAA drone licenses to get prepared for a future of drones in the industry. Students have already been enjoying the class so much that they plan on implementing drones on their families’ farms.

Students learn how to fly drones in the class, starting with small and making their way up to the larger commercial drones. They are also taught the fundamentals to get their commercial drone license and put together a drone video.

Emilee Diekman shared that a drone would be very useful on her family’s farm in Woodbine.

I will be able to fly over my cattle herd and crops for my family and friends. I’d like to be able to take pictures.

The students are given a smaller and cheaper drone to fly during the hands-on class, allowing them to learn about flying a drone and getting familiar with the controls. Once that is out of the way, the students can fly a larger and more expensive drone a few times a semester.

Professor of crops and agronomy at HCC Kent McKinnis shared:

The test is relatively stringent. It’s not easy. These (small drones) are really tricky to fly. If you can fly one of these (the small ones), the bigger ones are a piece of cake.

The students are taught to read maps and weather data to understand aerospace, gravity, and all the safety measures you have to take when flying a drone around people and property. The students are also taught to watch out for the wind as they live in Kansas.

The course has looked to be a success even with COVID causing the class to be split into two smaller groups. McKinnis said he plans to offer the drone class again next semester with future hopes to be able to offer a nationally recognized certificate for the course.

Schools, colleges, and universities worldwide have begun embracing drone technology by offering drone-related courses to students. In Australia, DJI is working with the University of New South Wales to prepare engineering students for future drone career paths, allowing graduates to visit DJI’s headquarters in China and possibly get a job.

Photo: Sandra J. Milburn

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