drone technology

Southwestern College Classes Help Launch Drone Pilots' Careers

NBC 7 Responds looked at classes that aim to help students searching for some 21st-century jobs

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New technology means there are new jobs that didn't exist a few decades ago. As drones become more mainstream, becoming a licensed drone pilot can open doors.

"There is a future in drones, and, frankly, the future is really starting now," said Ken Yanow, a professor at Southwestern College.

Yanow is a geography professor at the school but also teaches the newer drone classes.

"It's offered under geography -- for aeronautics -- under art, under film production," Yanow said. "We have a lot of drones in our fleet."

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This is the third semester the college has offered the class. Students are taught how to pilot drones for all kinds of operations, including photography, building inspections, thermal imaging and even search-and-rescue operations.

"We're going to learn to use this technology as much as we use a camera, microscopes, telescopes," said Jose Luis Baylow, a former student who now works programming drone flights.

For now, the class focuses on helping students learn about drones and their operation, and getting their remote pilot certificate from the FAA. The class filled up quickly ahead of the fall semester, with a long waitlist as well.

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You don't have to be a student to take the class.

"We also offer drone courses as noncredit options," Yanow said. "That way people in the community can take it for free."

Eventually, students will be taught how to make and modify their own drones. Yanow said it's a $43 billion dollar industry, and companies are already calling the college to find drone pilots.

"Drone technology is going to be implemented into so many different facets of our lives," Baylow said. "Find something about it that gives you an interest specifically."

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