Maine College Incorporates UAS into Wind Power Tech Curriculum

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Now federally licensed to fly unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), a wind power technology instructor is bringing drone education to his students at Northern Maine Community College (NMCC).

According to the college, Wayne Kilcollins recently became commercially certified to fly drones. In turn, he will incorporate his knowledge in the classroom, such as by demonstrating how UAS can inspect wind turbine blades and nacelles.

“We always aim to provide our students with the latest industry practices to keep them highly competitive in the workforce,” says Kilcollins. “We frequently communicate with our industry partners to realize their needs. When we have an opportunity to anticipate their expectations, it definitely works in our favor.”

NMCC says it purchased a drone for Kilcollins to bring into the curriculum.

“As much fun as it seems to be to fly the drones, there are certain parameters and considerations I share with the students,” adds Kilcollins. “In order to legally fly over the college, we needed to request a Part 107b wavier from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA wavier, along with an agreement with the Northern Maine Regional Airport, allowed the manufacturer of our drone to open the airspace over the college for us to fly. Otherwise, our proximity to the Presque Isle airport restricts our abilities to enable drone flight training.”

The Wind Power Technology program at NMCC is designed to prepare technicians looking to enter the growing wind industry. The program offers training in the electrical, electronic and mechanical aspects of the wind power industry; specifically, it focuses on turbine maintenance and electrical power production. NMCC launched the program, the first of its kind in New England, in 2008, the college says.

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