Drone program on the rise for Colorado Northwestern Community College
Excitement is rising at Colorado Northwestern Community College.
CNCC has plans to partner with Metro State University to expand its aviation program to include drones — Unmanned Aerial Systems and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in late 2018 or early 2019.
“CNCC is very excited about this opportunity. We have a phenomenal aviation program that we house on the Rangely campus, and so this will be an opportunity for us to build that program out even further,” said Janell Oberlander, vice president of the Craig campus and student affairs.
From tiny remote-controlled toys to military grade fixed-wing aircraft, unmanned aircraft are aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention. Also called drones, these aircraft may have passengers but do not have a human pilot onboard.
They can be flown for fun, military application and increasingly, are being used for commercial application.
“It’s advanced technology,” said County Commissioner Ray Beck. “UAV can be used for firefighting, law enforcement, infrastructure and habitat identification.”
Beck is the chair of the Colorado Aeronautical Board, seven people appointed by the governor to advise the state’s Division of Aeronautics.
“We have people in our own community using it as a business,” Beck said. “The technology is growing by leaps and bounds, and there are a number of opportunities to take advantage of it locally as well as nationally.”
The program being developed at CNCC is a “two plus two program” allowing students to spend their first two years of study at CNCC prior to seamlessly transferring to program partner Metro State in Denver, Oberlander said.
To help with the development of the program the college has applied for a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
Jeff Grubbs, associate vice president of instruction at the Craig campus, reported to the college board at their Wednesday meeting this week that if the college is successful in securing one of these highly sought after grants, that drone grant would positively impact the entire college, not just the Rangely campus.
More than $100 billion could be spent on both military and civilian drones between 2016 and 2020, according to a report by Goldman Sachs.
All those drones will need drone pilots.
“We feel that it is absolutely going to help our workforce and workforce development as well,” Oberlander said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.