College of Southern Nevada developing new program on drones

Looking to change your career path? Interested in drones? A new program at the College of Southern Nevada might be the right choice.

CSN is developing a new discipline in unmanned aviation systems, also known as drones. While the full degree will not be launched until fall of 2018, students can enroll in courses in the existing engineering technology department where coursework will be combined from aviation, computer information technology and engineering technology.

Arthur Eggers, CSN engineering technology lead instructor, is passionate about the program he is spearheading and the potential for jobs.

"If you're interested in doing more than just a part flyer, this is the program for you," he said. "It will be very challenging, very rewarding and you will learn more about drones and quads than you would probably ever imagined."

The program is highlighting the possibilities drones can provide to major companies and organizations, such as Nevada Highway Patrol, Clark County Fire Department and NV Energy. For example, NHP can use drones for crash reconstruction, able to see where skid marks started from 100 feet in the air, Eggers said.

Other industries can use unmanned aviation technology to do their jobs more efficiently, such as roofing companies, insurance, construction and cell phone companies.

"There are lots of different industries and businesses out there that are looking to apply this technology to enhance their business and their way of doing their job," Eggers said.

But these companies are going to need people who understand how to operate drones, which is where the CSN program can assist. CSN is working with local businesses on internships that could provide jobs to students once they graduate from the program.

"So the idea here is we're not just limiting it to just education. It's not just learning about electronics, learning about programming, learning about aviation technology, it's actually putting it to work," Eggers said. "We want a student who can hit the ground running."

Students also get experience with a wide variety of drones with fieldwork at CSN's Henderson campus. They also learn key tips to flying drones responsibility and to ideally diffuse situations with people who may not like drones.

"There are a lot of folks out there that are not keen on drones. When they see a drone fly over the house, they get a little irritated, understandably," Eggers said. "So what I will do in my program and teaching these classes is drive the point the home to the student that you've got issues to be thinking about in terms of safety and privacy and the way you do business. So that you're doing this in a very, very professional manner."

While students will receive an associate's degree in electrical engineering with a focus on unmanned aviation systems, the coursework also presents an appeal to those who want to do work on other autonomous vehicles, such as cars.

"We want the students to have the confidence that I'm not going to walk out of here with a degree that I'm locked in to just the airborne application," Eggers said. "I've got lots of other areas to look at."

The program is thanks to a grant from the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology. The $195,924 grant helps cover the cost of equipment and supplies needed to fund the program.

"Nevada is a perfect test bed and a perfect place to fly unmanned aircraft. Most days of the year you've got good flying weather," Eggers said.

That is, as long as it's not too windy or hot.

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