The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

GCC checking feasibility of drone program on campus


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

DEAN ERIK Guenard flies a drone after being given the controls by Brian Dawson, drone operator and instructor, Thursday at Gogebic Community College. Guenard was hesitant to take the controls at first, but grasped the concept quickly of how to fly the machine. From the right are Jim Lorenson, GCC president; John Lupino, board chair, and Ryon List, dean of instruction.


Ironwood - Gogebic Community College faculty hosted Brian Dawson, a retired Air Force pilot and drone program instructor at Alpena Community College, Thursday.

Dawson and Ryon List, dean of instruction, spent the morning in meetings with school officials to discuss the feasibility of starting a drone licensing program at GCC. List said the drone program at Alpena is part of a Workforce Development program and if instituted at GCC, would be designed to fill needs in the community for drone operators.

Dawson said the machines are mostly self-flying and their focus at Alpena is getting the students licensed. With a drone operator's license, an individual is able to either open his own business of take a job with an employer that needs drone operators. "Drones are useful for many jobs, from little to big," said Dawson. Then he described people working for real estate agents that provide videos for prospective buyers to view among other potential career options.

List said he has been approached numerous times by businesses in the area about instituting a drone program at GCC, so this is the first step in that process, but is not a guarantee the program will be selected.

Scott LaRock, GCC student, said, "Drone flying is the future and it is sweet. If the college offered the course I would probably take it."

Echoing LaRock, Zach Rollins said something similar about a future drone program, but "it would depend on how much it costs; it would be a good thing to have around."

Dawson provided an aerial display on GCC's soccer field, flying the drone from the soccer field to the ski lift to demonstrate the functionality of the drone and its camera to inspect lines and towers and return to its home location or launching point.


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