Duke Energy Foundation Grants Butler Tech $45,000 for Drone Education Programs

Michael Berding, President of Butler Tech Board of Education; Jon Graft, Superintendent/CEO of Butler Tech; Tim Abbott, Director of Government & Community Relations for Duke Energy; Laura Sage, Director of Workforce Services for Butler Tech

The Duke Energy Foundation has awarded a $45,000 grant to Butler Tech for development of drone technology education programs. The grant supports one of Duke Energy Foundation’s key investment priorities to fund K to Career education programs that address STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and workforce development.

“We are pleased to partner with Butler Tech on this grant to see students thrive as they are learning the new drone technology, said Tim Abbott, Community Relations Manager, Duke Energy. “Our commitment to STEM curriculum made this program something we knew we wanted to be involved with.”

“We are pleased to partner with Butler Tech on this grant to see students thrive as they are learning the new drone technology, said Tim Abbott, Community Relations Manager, Duke Energy. “Our commitment to STEM curriculum made this program something we knew we wanted to be involved with.”

Butler Tech has identified drone technology as having significant future impact on careers, with applications across a wide range of industry. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) projects that commercial drone sales will skyrocket from 600,000 in 2016 to about 2.7 million by 2020.

Drones are increasingly being used in agriculture, news gathering, utility inspection, public safety, and supply chain management. The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates there could be more than 100,000 drone-related jobs created by 2025, including an estimated 2,725 jobs in Ohio.

“Drones are no longer just for hobbyists or a child’s toy,” said Jon Graft, Superintendent and CEO of Butler Tech. “The commercialization of drones means we have to train today’s students for new careers that are just coming online or have yet to be created.”

To help meet this future workforce need, Butler Tech will be adding drone technology instruction to existing high school programs in fall of 2017. The course module will prepare students to take the FAA Part 107 Exam and earn required commercial drone certification. As certified drone pilots, Butler Tech graduates will have a competitive edge when entering the workforce or pursuing higher education in drone-related fields. Short-term certification programs for adult learners are also in development.

Butler Tech has already introduced drone education programming to the community with its summer drone camps for children ages 7 – 15. The three day camps include 12 hours of flight instruction using four different types of drones. Campers take on a number of drone “missions” to apply their learnings including drone races, aerial scavenger hunts, drone disassembly and assembly, aerial photography and videography, and virtual reality. Drone Camps are available through July. Registration is online at DroneCamp.org.

The FAA requires that anyone operating an unmanned aircraft system for professional or commercial use to be at least 16 years old, have a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate and pass vetting by the Transportation Security Administration. There are no pilot requirements for recreational drone use; however, there are aircraft requirements and airspace restrictions that any drone operator must learn and follow.