Through its new commercial drone exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Paramus, N.J.-based Bergen Community College says it will be offering educational programs on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Bergen says it is one of only three U.S. community colleges with a Section 333 exemption from the FAA. College officials first sought permission in June, and Bergen will now leverage the newly granted exemption by offering credit and non-credit coursework – including training programs for newsgathering companies and law enforcement agencies that seek proficiency in using the technology.
The first programs covered under the exemption will run this summer as part of the Division of Continuing Education’s Kids and Teens Summer Program. Previously, the college offered summer classes that included designing and fabricating drones, but none featured outdoor flights.
According to the college, the ability to offer drone programs represents another step in Bergen’s continued focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and education. In 2011, the college secured a $3.8 million U.S. Department of Education grant to fund the Graduation Pathway to Success Project, a five-year initiative to prepare STEM students to graduate, transfer to four-year schools and enter professional fields.
Buoyed by a $2 million grant from the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust, the college, in addition, established an aviation program to train aeronautics professionals. Two flight simulators reside at the main campus. The Buehler Trust also supported the college’s drone petition by providing a $9,500 grant for consulting fees and application assistance.
According to the FAA exemption document, the college is authorized to use the following aircraft: the DJI Spreading Wings S900; DJI S1000; DJI Phantom 1, 2 and 3; DJI Inspire 1; EOdrones HLH; EOdrones FTX; EOdrones 250; EOdrones FTW; Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk; Lockheed Martin Indago; Prioria Maveric; 3D Robotics Solo; and 3D Robotics Aero.
Photo courtesy of Bergen Community College: Bergen’s main campus in Paramus, photographed from a hobbyist’s drone