Copperas Cove students fly high through drone training
By WENDY SLEDD
Special to the Leader-Press
Copperas Cove High School 2023 graduate Donovan Vasquez-Solis uses his handheld remote to direct the movements of his drone as he completes the final day of training in CCHS’s Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles course which prepares students to earn their FAA Part 107 certifications. The course was offered for the first time in the 2022-2023 school year.
“I chose to pursue the UAV operation certification to broaden my range of employable skills,” he said. “The most rewarding experience was collaborating with other members of the course when operating drones. My greatest difficulty was learning how to properly analyze aviation maps.”
In mid-July, Vasquez-Solis travels to Round Rock to take the certification exam for which the cost was paid for by Copperas Cove ISD. Vasquez-Solis is one of eight CCHS students to complete the technical training. He seeks a career in information technology, with the U.S. Navy encouraging him to enlist.
CCHS Teacher of Technology Applications David O. Vasquez-Solis said the FAA Part 107 certification provides federal credentials to operate drones commercially.
“This certification demonstrates a deep understanding of unmanned aircraft systems and their safe operation, opening career opportunities in the rapidly expanding field of drone technology,” David Vasquez-Solis said. “Industries employing certified drone pilots include aerial photography, cinematography, land surveying, infrastructure inspection, agriculture and crop monitoring, and disaster response. With the FAA Part 107 certification, students can pursue careers as drone pilots, aerial technicians, GIS analysts, or even start their own drone-based businesses."
David Vasquez-Solis said he expects all eight of the students who completed his rigorous course to pass their certification exams.
2023 CCHS graduate James Victory said earning certification as a drone operator is the most rewarding result of the high school course.
“I was already on the robotics career track at the high school when the UAV course was offered this past year,” Victory said. “I am going into the Air Force and will be using the knowledge I learned from this program.”
Copperas Cove ISD is not waiting until students are in high school to teach them drone operator skills. The district hosted Drone Day, funded by an Education Service Center Region 12 Technology Foundation education grant, as part of its summer STEM camp, directed by CCISD Coordinator of Digital Learning Jessica Bredwell.
"Students enjoyed the opportunity to witness firsthand the applications of drones, including the use of drones in police work,” Bredwell said. “Our students not only learned about the technical aspects of drone operation, but also gained a deeper understanding of how drones are revolutionizing industries and sparking their interest in STEM careers.”