Middle Georgia State University to implement drone operation program into curriculum

EASTMAN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Middle Georgia State University is making sure several aviation students learn a new skill during their course load. The school is introducing a new drone program where participants learn how to use the vehicles professionally.

It doesn’t take long to realize students at the school’s Eastman location know their way around a cockpit.

“It’s probably the cheapest flight school I’ve ever been to and it’s a very good program,” sophomore Cameron Sebring says.

MGSU is the only public school in the state focused on aviation. Its Eastman campus churns out dozens of pilots every year.

“The U.A.S. sector is just a natural fit for us. We turn out safe, responsible pilots. Well, we’re going to turn out safe, responsible U.A.S. operators now,” program director Chad Dennis says.

U.A.S. — or unmanned aircraft systems — are becoming part of a national conversation. From consumer use to the military, everyone has their opinions about drones.

“We’ve had unmanned aircraft, remote control aircraft, satellites and things of that nature since the 50’s and 60’s,” Dennis says.

He says as drone use continues to increase in popularity, he wants to know pilots know what they’re doing when they’re using one.

“A U.A.S. is a great tool and with it being a new tool, we’ve not figured out all of things it can do,” Dennis says.

From lightweight to heavy duty, the vehicles can be used to cover a lot of ground and help in different ways.

“Going and finding like fires in the woods and stuff where maybe planes that we fly couldn’t get to. So that could actually be a really great thing, so they could find it where we couldn’t. So it’d be a lot easier and helpful,” rising junior Britian Rogers says.

“We’re seeing power companies use these to inspect power lines. We’re seeing oil companies start to inspect oil lines with them,” Dennis says.

MGSU is in the process of making a U.A.S. operator certificate program where students will learn how to fix, use, and manage a drone — a curriculum Dennis says has been in the works for the past five years.

The school is even looking at developing webinars for different agencies trying to implement the technology into their work and the idea is popular for incoming students.

“Some of them are fresh out of high school, fresh graduates that are looking to get into an emerging field. Some of them are engineers that are retiring from their existing field looking to start into a new field or develop their own company,” Dennis says.

He says he thinks the demand for drones will “quadruple” in the next five years and wants his program to take off into a new frontier.

Dennis expects the certification program to begin this fall. He says he anticipates the program will expand to an associate’s or even bachelor’s level degree in the next two years.

Categories: Dodge County, Local News, Special Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *