Yuma Sun - - BUSINESS -

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.

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