Mitchell Technical College Selected for FAA Training Program

Mitchell Technical College has announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected its Geospatial Technologies program for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems-Collegiate Training Initiative program or the UAS-CTI.

According to MTC program director Devon Russell, “The FAA’s Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) program will allow Mitchell Technical College to collaborate with the FAA and other institutions to help prepare our students for careers involving unmanned aircraft systems.”

The FAA’s UAS-CTI program recognizes institutions that prepare students for careers in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones. In order to qualify for the initiative, schools must offer a bachelor or associate degree in UAS or a degree with a minor, concentration, or certificate in UAS. Schools must provide curriculum covering various aspects of UAS training, including hands-on flight practice, maintenance, uses, applications, privacy concerns, safety, and federal policies concerning UAS.

College president Mark Wilson sees the UAS-CTI program to be of great benefit to the regional workforce.  “What we are seeing in technical education is a readiness to adapt unmanned aircraft systems into many sectors of the economy.  Mitchell Tech’s history with drone technology, along with our highly qualified instructors, will give graduates critical skills in occupations that use the systems and will ensure employers that our graduates are well prepared to meet their organizations’ needs.”

The Geospatial Technologies program at Mitchell Tech has evolved over the years as newer technologies have become available. In 2016, the program received a $200,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to allow for professional development and outreach to middle school, high school and Career and Technical Education educators in South Dakota. The project was recently featured as part of the NSF STEM for All Video Showcase.  A unique feature of the project was to provide curriculum materials for high school educators to integrate UAS technology into many types of middle school, secondary and CTE instruction, ultimately impacting nearly 800 students, and to access drones through a check-out program hosted by MTC.  The college has adopted instruction of UAS into the curriculum of both Geospatial Technologies and Precision Agriculture Technology programs to provide specific skills vital to a variety of occupational areas.