looking for and predicting crime patterns, to evaluating crop health and irrigation — just to name a few examples cited by AWC.
Several of the panelists pointed out some of the opportunities available. Paul Brierley, executive director of the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture, noted that drones are being used to identify stress in plants before they become problems and some farmers are now turning to drones for applying pest control instead of manned planes or helicopters. The center, which finds solutions to agriculture issues, has been testing drones and their uses in farming.
Nate Dorsey, who works with RDO Equipment Co., said drones are being used in many aspects of agriculture, but imaging is only one part. Farmers are using drones to collect a lot of other data.
Dorsey also pointed out that drones are being used by construction and mining companies.
“This technology will touch every industry,” Joe Waterford, EMS program director at AWC, said, adding that police will use them to chase suspects without having patrol cars following them.
One attendee, who did not identify himself, said he lost his leg in an accident and he was looking for something else to do. He has been working on getting a pilot’s license for drones. He asked the panelist whether they believed someone could make a living with drones.
Nilsson noted that a lot of government agencies are hiring drone pilots and more professions, like wedding photography and real estate, are requiring the use of drones.
“You’re on the right track,” she said, urging him to seek out internships and take all opportunities that present themselves. A lot of companies will give drone pilots the needed equipment and some jobs require a manned pilots license, she added.
“At first, you won’t get paid much but keep at it,” Nilsson said.
However, several panelists noted that it will take more than being a drone pilot. They suggested he add knowledge of geographic information system (GIS) mapping technology to his toolbox.
Brian Brady agreed, noting that having GIS skills will get him work in government, construction, health services and other fields. Brady works with the City of Yuma and is an instructor at AWC.
Brierley noted that drone piloting is only a mechanism and the technology will reach a point where drones won’t need pilots and they’ll simply be programmed to go collect data.
Learning to use the datagathering sensor is what will become important, he said.
The student expressed appreciation for the advice. “That clears a path for me. I’m trying to figure out what to do.”
Coordinated by AWC geology professor Fred Croxen and an advisory committee of Yuma industry professionals, some of whom are course instructors, the CTE program allows students to earn geospatial technologies specialist, geospatial technologies technician, or unmanned aerial systems certifications with an opportunity to also receive an associate in science transfer degree in geography. Geospatial technology is recognized at the master’s and doctorate levels of higher education as well.
The curriculum for the program was developed by Pinnt and local geographic information systems specialists in addition to the National Geospatial Center. Pinnt represents AWC at the statewide Geography Articulation Task force, which consists of Arizona’s state universities and community colleges.
AWC is setting up internship partnerships with agencies such as the City of Yuma, Yuma County, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, Yuma Proving Ground, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Arizona Game and Fish.
For more information on the CTW program, email to ca[email protected]ern. edu or call 928-344-7657.
A PILOT AND LAWYER, Dr. Sarah Nilsson was the keynote speaker and one of the panelists of experts who answered questions after the presentation “Mapping the Desert, Discover the World from Above,” hosted by the Arizona Western College Career and Technical Education’s Geospatial Technology Program on the Dec. 3, as part of GIS Day.