By Michael Foster-Sanders/campus editor

TCC prepares students to take remote pilot test with two-day course

The future of transportation, entertainment and military warfare will be unmanned due to drones.

A collaborative effort between NE and NW Campuses are making sure students are ahead of the curve and leading the charge with the Remote Pilot Certification Test Prep course.

For $99, a 16-hour two-day course prepares non-aviators for the Federal Aviation Administration small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airman Knowledge test which can be taken for $150 on NW, a licensed FAA exam center.

Future iterations of the class will cost more but will include a personal drone once completing the class along with the certificate. 

The FAA estimates that sUAS sales for commercial purposes will grow from 600,000 in 2016 to 2.7 million by 2020. Certified sUAS operators will be in demand in many sectors of the workforce.

Continuing education instructor Kyle Hardman, who is a FAA certified drone pilot, said the framework of the course started out as a one-shot course with the Texas Workforce Commission, city of Arlington and TCC but evolved into the program it is known as today.

“We started to look at what was the need and to be able to fly a drone commercially you have to have a certificate,” he said. “So, they (TCC) said go build a course that will prepare people to go take that FAA exam.”

Hardman then was presented with a contract from TCC and became an adjunct instructor that teaches the course once a month that takes place over two days.

“It’s 16 hours worth of lecture and it is a marathon,” he said.

CIE student Derek Schroeder said he wanted to take the course due to his family having a history in aviation field as far back as World War II, and also to get his feet wet in the aviation field.

“Drones would be the first step to try to get comfortable with that mainly because I’ll be getting to learn about how flying works in general,” he said.

Schroeder said the class is excellent since students must know how FAA regulations work when it comes to piloting drones. Also, whenever a person takes the next step in learning how to pilot drones, they will have the fundamental groundwork on the do’s and don’ts of the job from having taken the course. 

“You can’t learn to fly the drones if you don’t know regulations of where everything is and what you’re allowed to do and where,” he said. “Also, drones pay big money.”

CIE student William Johnson is a security officer and co-owner of a company that specializes in bounty hunting. Johnson said he took the class because his friend Schroeder convinced him that there is “big money” in the drone world, and he also knows drones can help him in the future with security and his business. 

“We had one fugitive we went after who was worth $100,000, and he was very dangerous. So, we kind of figured that it might be better to use a drone to scout him out rather to send a person and put him in harm’s way,” Johnson said.

Companies are also sending their employees to take the course due to FAA requirements, which is the case of CIE student Zachary Bryson. His employer sent him to TCC because he found the college’s the course to be one of the most beneficial in the metroplex.

Bryson said he recommends the certification course to anyone who’s into drones because it can help in the future.

“It’s one of the most compressive, cost-effective ways of getting that knowledge and not reading a bunch of redundant paperwork that the government throws out randomly,” he said.

Schroeder shares the same sentiment about taking the class.

“It’s always easier in an actual environment with people who are here to learn as well and you’re in an environment with someone who can also teach you it’s so much easier than trying to learn it on your own,” he said. 

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