Community Services Consortium

Serving Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties in Oregon. Helping people. Changing lives.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Career Tech Drone Class Makes Buzz

By Kendall S. Cable
Freelance Writer

Lincoln County, OR… At first listen it would appear bees were swarming Lincoln City’s Kirtsis skate park last Monday. Low frequency buzzes bounced off the heights and depths of the lunar-like cement structures. The sounds’ source, however, was not of the insect variety, but rather mechanical as seven students from Lincoln City Career Technical High School (Career Tech) guided their drones through the damp, coastal air.

As part of a pilot program, students enrolled in Career Tech’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses were presented the opportunity to learn about and earn licenses for flying drones. Divided into 100 and 200 level courses, students are introduced to such concepts as: knots, cloud clearance, visibility, drone repair, and mapping. Inside a brick and mortar classroom only, such subjects may glaze over an eye or two. With the addition of hands-on repairs and flying, student learning becomes interactive.

“Whatever we do here is fun,” said Teacher Chuck Getter. A pilot and PhD marine science researcher, Getter will use drones to teach Career Tech students ecology while working for the City of Lincoln City to map invasive species and monitor coastal erosion on beaches. “I am really trying to introduce high paying jobs in technology and science,” Getter explained. “There is nothing wrong with trade jobs that take as much training as this.”
By the end of a year, students may sit for the Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 Drone License Test funded by the school, Getter shared. Said licensure would open job opportunities in areas such as mapping, videography, and study and monitoring of invasive species. As incentive to complete the program, students are awarded the drones on which they trained during several runs throughout the school year.

“It is cool,” Junior Jacob Helton remarked. “It is not something everyone gets to do normally. It makes it more interesting and makes me want to learn it.” Jacob served as the group’s mechanic (one of eight jobs available) during last Monday’s drone flight and repaired propellers, and switched out engines and batteries. He said he is interested in pursuing a job as a mechanic in the future.

Jacob’s brother, Tyler, concurred. “It makes it more fun,” he said. “Especially since I get to fly drones.” Tyler, a freshman, explained their cousin uses a drone to help film the television show “Gold Rush.”

To help keep the program growing Career Tech staff are applying for Measure 98 funding, which is geared at improving high school graduation rates. To learn more about Career Tech and/or the drone program, call (541) 351-8551 and/or visit the website at Community Services Consortium (CSC) is the parent organization of Career Tech, which is part of CSC’s Workforce and Education Department.


Photo 1: Photo by Kendall S. Cable: Lincoln City Career Technical High School Student Seth Martin inspects his drone after a few flights while at Kirtsis skate park.     Note: (Student with blue hair)

Photo 2: Photo by Kendall S.  Cable: Trainer drones are used for students to learn how to maneuver and maintain. Teacher Chuck Getter said more expensive drones, such as the Phantom used for class, are easier to fly after learning on the drone pictured.

Photo 3: Photo by Kendall S. Cable: Lincoln City Career Technical High School Junior Jacob Helton serves as the drone class mechanic. Helton repairs propellers, engines, exchanges batteries and performs other duties to make sure drones are in working order.

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