EUGENE, Ore.— From farmers to photographers, the commercial use of drones is soaring. That’s why Lane Community College will offer a new degree and certificate program in Commercial Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) this fall. The state Higher Education Coordinating Commission approved the program August 2.
Lane assessed industry need and won enthusiastic support from the local community to promote the safe, responsible and licensed use of UAS technology. Several area high schools, including Creswell, South Eugene, West Lane Tech and others, expressed a keen interest in partnering with Lane, says LCC Division Dean Pat O’Connor.
The program will offer a two-year associate of applied science degree, a certificate in aerial photography, and a certificate in geographic information science. The cross-disciplinary curriculum will draw on the expertise of faculty in GIS, photography, flight, drafting, and other programs. Flight Tech Instructor Sean Parrish will be the lead faculty.
Students will gain extensive knowledge of the national airspace system and the integration of UAS. They will get hands-on experience with hobby grade and advanced commercial sensors and equipment and learn how to safely pilot multi-copters and fixed wings in normal and emergency situations. They will learn about Federal Aviation Administration airspace waivers, and how to build, program, and repair unmanned aircraft.
“This program will be especially useful to people who need workforce training for operations such as mapping, firefighting, real state surveying, building inspections—there are many applications,” says O’Connor.
Demand for UAS skill sets is reflected in a recent Burning Glass Technologies report as well as Department of Labor statistics. The national personnel recruiting site Indeed.com lists the current average salary of a drone pilot at $76,625.
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Lane Community College educates over 25,000 students annually at six locations across Lane County and online. Students and alumni from all 50 states and 79 countries create more than an $850 million dollar impact on the local economy, helping to support more than 13,000 local jobs. Lane provides affordable, quality, professional technical and college transfer programs; business development and employee training; academic, language and life skills development; and lifelong personal development and enrichment courses.