By Scott Smith
On Feb. 11 Dr. Matt Jenkins hosted Cameron’s first Drone Flying and Video workshop. The workshop was the first in a series of five weekend classes.
Among those attending were students with Journalism/Media Production and Agriculture as well as students from varying fields of study.
Saturday morning began with a presentation by Drone Instructor, Chad Ellis. Ellis, a commercial pilot, briefed students about some of the rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
Some of the regulations discussed were requirements for flying drones for recreation and commercial purposes. Rules for flight include things such as maximum altitude, speed, restricted airspace, and night flight.
In the afternoon session, students were able to fly two different versions of drones. Before flying, each student had to successfully complete The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) for recreational unmanned aircraft usage.
The flight portion of the course took place inside the music hall practice room. Student pilots had to fly five separate missions. The first was a simple take off and landing.
The second through the fifth flights were more complex as students were required to maneuver the drones through a series of exercises intended to familiarize them with the equipment.
Future flights will be held outdoors and away from campus as weather permits.
Students who successfully complete all five workshop sessions and score 70 or above on the final exams will receive a micro-credential in Drone Flying and Video and will be eligible for a $200 scholarship.
Jarred Burk, who works locally at KSWO TV, said that his interest in the class comes from his work at the station.
“Right now, there is only one person at the station that has a license to fly a drone, so I believe it would be beneficial to have my certification so I could be a backup pilot,” Burk said. “I’m also a storm chaser for the station, so it will be great to provide live drone video when I’m in the field.”
Burk also has an interest in obtaining his drone license to develop a side business.
Business major Katie Back and her husband owns a bulldozer service in Tipton, Oklahoma called Evan’s Dirtworks.
“I started a bulldozing business, and I’m interested (in this workshop) because I think it would be good to have something I could take an aerial photo of what I need to use in my portfolio, and it sounded interesting,” Back said.
Neal Kirmer is a student at Cameron minoring in JRMP. Kirmer’s interest in the workshop came from a job interview where he was asked if he had experience with drones. Kirmer had some experience, but was not certified.
He saw the workshop as an avenue to obtain his certification.
“The first part of the day was heavy in lecture, but I learned a lot of rules and regulations that I didn’t know about,” Kirmer said.
Kirmer’s favorite part of the day came in the afternoon session.
“It was fun to watch everyone fly for the first time, a lot of newcomers, so that was interesting.” Kirmer said.
Kirmer’s favorite maneuver from flying was taking off and landing in a different location.
“I probably did the best on that one. The last maneuver was making a circle, I did the worst on that one. My circle was more of a square than a circle, but I got it done,” Kirmer said.
Dr. Matt Jenkins also took part in the class. He said that the most unique thing about this class is that unlike other drone flying classes, this is the first time that students can actually earn a micro-credential that will hopefully entice students to go and take the FAA certification test.
Jenkins said that he wants to get his certification. As a filmmaker, Jenkins hopes that it is something he can use in the future when shooting his movies.
The next four workshops will again focus on regulations as well as areas of study pertaining to airspace and weather. Students will also receive extensive training on outdoor drone flight ending with a simulated commercial UAS photography mission. The final session for the Drone Piloting and Video workshop will be held March 25.
Cameron University offers several unique workshops throughout the semester. For more information, contact your academic advisor or contact Cameron’s enrollment specialist Julie Kendall at 580-581-2235.