Brandon University will now offer a drone certification course — one of the first of its kind in Canada.
University students and public drone enthusiasts alike can register for the university-credit course that will teach everything needed to safely and legally fly the popular aerial vehicles.
The new course, Applied Topics in Geography: UAV Ground School, offers students the chance to learn about drones, their applications, safety considerations, how they work, and the regulations and procedures to operate them. At the end of the course,there is also the opportunity to become a certified drone pilot, able to fly drones commercially or for research at the university.
"Drones are really fun to fly, and a lot of hobbyists fly them for pure enjoyment," BU geography Prof. Dion Wiseman said. "For geographers and for many others, they are also important tools that can capture photos and other data to provide incredibly detailed information that’s difficult or impossible to gather in any other way."
Pilot training schools have begun to offer similar programs that result in similar certification, Wiseman said, but they are not for a university course credit.
Aspiring drone pilots will also be prepared for stiff new Transport Canada regulations. Existing rules exempt people who fly drones recreationally, while the proposed new rules will require everyone flying a drone to have completed a ground school course like the one now being offered at BU.
"This is an industry that is getting huge. Real estate, photography and videography are some of the more obvious applications, but all of the major industries including mining, construction and agriculture are turning to drones, and they’re all around us here on the Prairies," Matthew Johnson, president of M3 Aerial Productions and the instructor of the course, said in a statement. "Agriculture is huge. Within three to five years, drones will be a tool that everyone uses. The trend is growing right now, and the ability to get an aerial photo of their field is so important."
The course will be fully available online to help meet expected wide demand for the training. The first portion of the course is self-directed online study that must be completed by Nov. 17, and the second portion includes three Saturday sessions (Nov. 18, 25, and Dec. 2) that are offered either in-class or through online video conferencing.
The course will cost $600, and includes BU tuition, the university admissions fee and a course fee of $60 for the manual and textbook. There is no prerequisite, and no need to already own a drone, as the course is completely ground-based with no actual flying.
» The Brandon Sun