FULTON — The Fulton School District Board of Education watched a presentation Tuesday regarding a drone pilot program that could take off next fall.
Dominick Lisi, the district’s director of technology, took the board through the curriculum, which would lead to juniors and seniors being Federal Aviation Administration-certified drone pilots that can do aerial imaging, data collection and autonomous flight programming.
The initial class is expected to be 25 students in fall. They would take a 300-hour course over the school year, with most of the learning coming through digital content from SkyOp LLC, a company based out of Canandaigua.
Lisi was one of several Fulton representatives who went to Camden in the last few months to see the program in action.
“They’re using the same program that we’re anticipating using from SkyOp, so we went and saw how it was conducted and how the students were reacting, and it was really neat to see,” Lisi told The Palladium-Times.
The curriculum includes an introduction to drones and how they work, safety and operational requirements, and other simulations before they get their hands on an actual drone.
“It’s like actual manned-aircraft training,” Lisi said. “They go through the process like they would piloting an aircraft and they transition to unmanned drones. They learn map reading, flight controls and that sort of thing and go through that process.”
Students will also learn drone photo and video production, as well as how to turn data into “actionable intelligence.”
Elizabeth Conners, the district’s executive director of instruction and assessment, told the board the curriculum is already purchased and the funding has been set aside for the teachers and training.
Before the program begins, three Fulton teachers will need to be certified in the program.
“We’re thrilled that we have three staff members as well as a tech support person, who will be trained in this program,” Conners said. “It is extensive for them as well. They need to have this training done by September to get started. It’s a lot, but we’re really excited.”
Conners said they will see the interest level when the school hosts an electives fair on Jan. 30.
While the first class will be 25 students, Lisi could see that number eventually growing.
“It’s also what’s needed in society. This is what industry is asking for,” Lisi said. “We want to prepare our students.”