BBCC’s New “Drone” Program Will Focus on Agriculture

Posted on Sep 30, 2015

An unmanned aerial system (UAS)An unmanned aerial systems (UAS or “drone”) program to train drone technicians and pilots will be developed at Big Bend Community College with the help of a $2.6 million federal grant.
“The opportunity to use a new UAS education program and our 50-year aviation tradition to serve one of the most diverse and productive agricultural areas in the world is exciting,” said Terry Leas, BBCC President.

Leas said students in BBCC’s computer science program will have pathways to the drone program. It will benefit the college’s commercial pilot and aviation maintenance programs. It will also be exciting for students in the college’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) pathways.
“It will have a ripple effect. The UAS program will create connections among many of our existing educational programs,” Leas said. 

The UAS program at BBCC will have three initiatives: mechatronics (mechanical and electronics), UAS operations (pilots), and pathway advising. Each initiative will have a full-time director. An estimated 10 faculty positions will be trained in the new curricula and course delivery.

“This program is a great addition to what is already a world-class aerospace training institution,” said Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of the Grant County EDC. “Our aerospace sector is growing rapidly and this program will help accelerate and diversify that growth.”

It will take one year to set up the program, with the first classes anticipated for fall of 2016. The first year of the grant is dedicated to hiring staff, developing curriculum, renovating 5,560-square feet of an existing college hangar for lab space, developing an advising system, and training advisors.