Drone Technology – an exciting new addition to Surry County Schools

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: October 4, 2018 | 2:50 p.m.

SURRY – Two very excited Surry County High School teachers recently returned from training at NC State University on how to use innovative new technological equipment recently acquired by the school.  Earlier this year, Adrian Foster (Computer Science/robotics instructor) and Breyon Pierce (Agriculture Education Instructor) applied for a Virginia Department of Education CTE Competitive Innovative Program Equipment Grant, outlining the need for modern equipment to provide students with classroom experiences relevant to the 21st-century workplace, especially focusing on how Drone Technology will be utilized in the areas of Agriculture and Technology Education.  Last week, the two sat down to explain a little bit about how they forsee winning that grant and the training that they recently completed will have such an exciting impact on education – and career opportunities – for local students.

“We got $38,500 to purchase equipment relating to drone technology and utilizing it in agriculture and technology education courses,” Foster explained. “The drones are a small part of career and technological education.  For example, not only will students be learning to analyze data, they actually will be earning hours to be able to obtain an unmanned drone pilot operator’s license through FAA flight hours.  With a combination of the training and hours they can receive here, they can prepare for the testing required to actually be able to fly them commercially.”  

Pierce, who was particularly excited about how the drone technology is a big part of what he is doing in his agriculture classes, said that drones will be a valuable tool in his effort to get local students away from of thinking of all agriculture-related careers as “those dirty farm jobs.” 

Foster focuses on fine-tuning the robotic aspects of drone operations

“This is the sort of thing that is particularly important for our CTE (Career, Technical, Education) Department,” he said.  “Whether attending college or going right into the workforce, we need to introduce new things – new options.  This is only the second year of the AG program in the school, and the students – and the community – can benefit greatly from seeing what vast changes have been made in agriculture over just the last few years.”

“When you look around in this rural area,” Pierce continued, “all you see is students who are part of family farms or working on farms. This new drone technology being introduced can help them to understand things like how to use flight plans to do a kernel count for cornfields – how to grow crops more efficiently and effectively and recognize problems in soil, or see what issues there are with flooding, for example. These are just a few of the ways drones can aid in producing produce better production yields.”

“Learning about – and how to use – drones will also make our students more marketable in this very tough market,” he added.  “This is especially important for students who may not be financially or academically prepared for the challenges of college after high school, or who are interested in the military.  Our main focus is to get students prepared for careers, and drones can be used for so many avenues like landscaping, real-estate, military applications, photography, even things like music videos that the students may be interested in. These are the kinds of possibilities that we’re dealing with now in 2018.”

Both Foster and Pierce expressed excitement about everything they learned at NC State concerning using the Drones, and said that they are eager to continue to learn – and teach – ever more about the new technology and its potential positive impact on students and all citizens of Surry County.    

Copyright 2018 by Womack Publishing
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