Students learn new skills in Gavilan's drone technology programby Jan Janes on Dec 8, 2017
"Up hard and out!"
Under blue skies, drones buzzed in the front and back parking lots at the Coyote Valley campus as students demonstrated acquired skills. A cohort of 20 completed the first drone ((UAS) class offered at Gavilan College, and two new classes have been added for certification completion.
For Spring 2018, the intro class will be joined by Drone Flight Operation and Pilot Certification (AMT 226) and Drone Aerial Photo and Video. Most of the students enrolled in the fall class plan to continue their studies with the next two offerings. The drone program curriculum will expand in future semesters. Students who successfully complete the complement of six classes can earn a certificate.
"Mike and Tony make it fun," said B.K. Lockett. Mike Bonillas and Tony Olson have early licensing, adoption and industry knowledge in the UAS field.
B.K. Lockett maneuvered his drone following verbal commands from instructors.
For the first class, students met at the Coyote Valley campus on Saturday mornings. Beginning in the spring, the intro class will be taught Wednesday evenings. The new classes have a two-hour lecture component followed by a three-hour lab.
"The people in the class have been outstanding, a diverse range of ages, professions and interests," said Lockett. As a computer science systems engineer thinking about retirement, he sees commercial opportunities in real estate, agriculture and weddings. He plans to take all the courses Gavilan offers.
"It's good that Gavilan created this course structure in the infancy of the industry," he said. "I'm watching in Silicon Valley to see where it's going."
"My favorite part of part of the class is how hands on the instructors make it," said Catherine Virgen. "Plus making sure students know the fundamentals."
A former student at Gavilan, Virgen transferred to Humboldt State University to major in broadcasting.
"I have a photo and video background, but not in the sky," she said. "Drones offer a different point of view."
Catherine Virgen (center) with instructor Tony Olson, put her drone through its paces as
classmates looked on.
Virgen will apply drone skills on the job. As a video production technician with CMAP in downtown Gilroy, she discovered the agency had a drone. She took the class to learn the technology and be able to teach it.
Interested in this new industry? Check out Aviation Maintenance Tech classes, Coyote Valley in the 2018 Spring schedule for classes and times.