This fall, a new program not only will teach students how to “fly,” it also will help them realize opportunities in the emerging and expanding field of small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS), commonly called drones.

That is the lofty goal for Buena Vista school district and the Central Colorado UAS, who partnered with others to help develop this program that is not offered by many Colorado school districts.

The Unmanned Safety Institute’s safety certification curriculum will be the basis for the Buena Vista High School program, which will be taught by Adam Fuller.  Central Colorado UAS is providing $1,500 grant money and two Ryze Tello aircraft systems to launch the program, including funding secured from the Chaffee County Community Foundation.

“Unmanned Aviation classes have been recommended through a recent evaluation of our Comprehensive Post-Secondary Readiness Programs,” school district superintendent Lisa Yates said. “In our research through the evaluation process, technology with adaptable and critical thinking was identified as highly needed job skill. We are excited to provide this opportunity to students to explore innovative thinking in potential career fields.”

 Taylor Albrecht, president of CCUAS, said drones have a growing technological role in industry.  Small UAS sales are projected to exceed $20 billion worldwide this year, with forecasted double-digit growth in the next few years.

He pointed to a report from Business Insider about business UAS use. Drone use has grown rapidly in five main areas – agriculture, construction and mining, media and telecommunications, law enforcement and insurance. Insider Intelligence predicts total drone global shipments to reach 2.4 million by 2023 – increasing at a 66.8% compound annual growth rate.

“Thirty years ago, home computers, cellphones and the internet weren’t common in most homes. About 20 years back, many colleges didn’t offer studies in computer programming, social media, web design and other topics that are standard in recent years,” Albrecht said. “Today, drones have begun to take their place as a rapidly-growing technology. Although some people may think of drones merely as a child’s flying toy, business leaders have become more aware of their potential impact and importance to our lives. That is why we’re excited to promote this sUAS course to Buena Vista High School students.

“The USI curriculum provides students with a wide knowledge base of sUAS systems and students that successfully complete the program will achieve not only a Federal Aviation Administration Remote Pilot Certificate, but an industry-recognized safety certification. This will give them an advantage in the burgeoning job market of this industry,” he said. 

Nick Langolf, USI’s lead academic sUAS Safety and Certification strategist, worked with Albrecht to present to BVHS on how they could empower the school to educate their students about the responsible use of unmanned technology, become commercially licensed to fly a drone at 16, earn college credit and multiple industry certifications. 

With the added benefit of the contents ability to be delivered in a classroom, hybrid or entirely online. 

The school resource officers have been invited to take advantage of the program, so they can provide broader value to the school and the local community.  

“We are excited to add the Buena Vista school district to the institutions in Colorado and around the country offering our program, which is also recommended for college credits by the American Council on Education,” Langolf said.

About the Central Colorado UAS Club

The Central Colorado UAS Club’s is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to promote the safe, legal and fun use of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) in society.  We do this through meetings, educational seminars and community outreach emphasizing the benefits of these aircraft systems to society.  We provide a method of interaction between sUAS operators and the public to help craft rules and regulations that both recognize the public benefit of sUAS and recognize the concerns of the public.

About the Buena Vista school district

Buena Vista school district’s mission is to ensure every student reaches the peak of success by being curious, connected, creative, critically-competent, collaborative, constructive, and character-centered.  We imagine the unmanned system classes igniting the development of many of our 7 C’s.

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