SCSU to Launch 4-Week Program on Use of Drones

SCSU to Launch 4-Week Program on Use of Drones

Scott Graves, associate professor of the environment, geography and marine sciences, demonstrates a drone.

It’s not a bird. It’s not exactly a plane, either. But drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, are becoming a sort of superman of modern technology – used by professionals and amateurs alike.

Drones, which generally take aerial photos and videos, are being used today for a smorgasbord of purposes – from journalism to education to public safety to the inspection roads and bridges.

“This cutting-edge technology is not only growing in popularity amongst enthusiastic hobbyists, but finding application in a variety of different professional fields,” said Ian Canning, associate dean of Southern’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies. “In response to this growing demand, and because of our university expertise, we wanted to offer a comprehensive program for working professionals seeking to expand their knowledge in the field of drone operation and utilization.”

As such, SCSU has created a Drone Academy, which is set to begin on April 24.

The academy is designed to prepare individuals for the Federal Aviation Agency exam (which is required for some drone uses); to teach people how to safely operate a drone; to teach basic photography and videography using a drone, and to instruct students on video editing using Photoshop and Video Pro.

Although the SCSU Drone Academy is open to anyone, the program will be geared toward the professional seeking to increase their understanding of drone operation.

The academy will be divided into four modules of eight hours each for a total of 32 hours. It is a non-credit program and the cost totals $800 a person. The academy is scheduled to include classes on Wednesdays from 6:15 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The instructors are Scott Graves, SCSU associate professor of the environment, geography and marine sciences, who is also an FAA-licensed drone pilot; and Mark Mirko, a Hartford Courant photojournalist who is an FAA-certified Part 107 pilot.

Graves specializes in coastal geomorphology, wetlands, beaches and coastal forest research, as well as computational aerial imaging. He also has engaged in research focused on science education. He has authored many journal articles, a book chapter and conducted presentations on the use of drones for landscape and habitat mapping.

Mirko is an adjunct instructor of journalism at Southern. He brings extensive experience in drone flight navigation, safety, controls and aerial photography. He was part of a team of photographers at the Palm Beach Post in Florida that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for its coverage of Hurricane Andrew.

For additional information about the Drone Academy, please contact Ian Canning at canningi1@southernct.edu, or either of the instructors: Scott Graves at gravess1@southernct.edu, or Mark Mirko at mmirko@courant.com.