President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh said the college is excited to offer the new program at no cost to students, noting that private drone schools typically charge thousands of dollars for the training. Despite the cost, the training is growing in demand with many drone pilots working as freelance contractors, flying drones for small businesses and major companies, alike. Grossmont College’s classes train pilots for two commercial tracks – Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) cinematography and UAS surveying and mapping.
“Clearly, the interest and demand are there and with the funding to support developing education and training in this burgeoning career field, we were very keen to start this program,” Abu-Ghazaleh said, adding that as the new curriculum is expanded, classes will be offered next spring in the programming and technology that make autonomous aircraft function.
Grossmont College is unique in the state in offering the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) classes for free, thanks to a $6 million U.S. Department of Labor Promise grant that was shared by Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges to create education and industry partnerships to educate and train underserved students for high-skilled, in-demand jobs. The grant – the only one of its kind in California – was among the largest awarded to 23 colleges, universities and workforce partnerships across the country. Partnering with Grossmont College in the local program are the San Diego Maritime Alliance and the East County Economic Development Council.
Javier Ayala, the college’s dean of Career Technical Education and Workforce Development, said it was the large turnout of drone enthusiasts to a Grossmont College workshop two years ago that convinced him a drone technology program would be in demand as a new career training option. Job projections for drone operators is on a vertical ascent as the commercial use of the unmanned aircraft becomes ubiquitous.
From their military origins, drones are now must-have tools in industries such as real estate, filmmaking, photography and even agriculture. Analysts at the consulting group PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP predicted in 2016 that the global market for commercial applications of drone technology could reach $127 billion by 2020.
Grossmont's program is providing UAS Ground School and FAA 107 certification classes to become licensed commercial drone pilots. Students who complete the ground school module and possess a drone pilot license can then go on to take classes specializing in either UAS cinematography or UAS surveying and mapping.
The cinematography track meets 4-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays Oct. 30-Feb. 12, 2019 in Bldg. 36, Room 354. Taught by an Emmy-nominated cinematographer who works with Fox Sports Net, HBO and other media companies, this track teaches students how to use drones for weddings, movies, real estate videography, commercials and more. The course covers both basic and advanced cinematography techniques with an emphasis on developing creativity.
The surveying and mapping track meets 4-8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays Nov. 7-Feb.1, 2019 in Bldg. 36, Room 340. Students in this track train for surveying and mapping large masses of land and waters for such job fields as construction, farming, military and security. Pilots receive extensive flight time and by the end of the program, students will know how to do precision mapping missions and data collection for multiple industries and operations.
The grant funding the Drone Technology Program requires students to be United States citizens and is targeted to groups including veterans, Native Americans, military spouses, ex-offenders, women, high school students and the unemployed and underemployed. Drones are provided to students.
To register, go to https://tinyurl.com/APdronetechnologytraining
Deadlines are Oct. 23 for the cinematography track and Oct. 31 for the surveying and mapping track.
For more information, email Kathie.Nino@gcccd.edu or call (619) 644-7549.