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Grossmont College offers drone piloting program, more women entering the field

Posted at 9:55 AM, May 09, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A drone piloting program at Grossmont College is spurring interest from many San Diegans, particularly women looking to learn how to operate the devices.

The class is not just for traditional college students, as anyone with various careers, ages, and more are enrolling to learn this new high-tech skill.

The growing popularity of drone-piloting is helping people -- especially women -- take their careers to new heights.

Summer Piper, a member of the San Diego Humane Society’s emergency response team, said her new skills are going to allow her and the SDHS team to rescue animals safely.

“This is another tool in our toolbox that we can really put to good use,” Piper said.

She shared the Humane Society recently used a drone during a horse rescue in Escondido.

“You really don’t have that full 360 [degree] view that the drone has from up in the air,” said Piper. “We have animals that are scared, they have been through a lot. They may be intimidated due to your presence. An easier way, and less harmful for rescuers, is to fly a drone and identify where that animal might be located.”

Instructors at Grossmont College said more than 90 percent of drone pilots are male, but in this growing industry, more females are entering the field.

“Flying a drone is inclusive for everyone,” said Rose Ann Denton, one of the four instructors for the drone course. “The aviation industry is really male dominated, but women in droves have been changing that.”

In the first half of the eight-week course, students learn the information needed to pass the FAA 107 Drone Pilot Certification. This allows people to operate drones commercially. The second half of the class is where students get their hands-on experience.

“This is a great program for learning the basics of safe drone flight,” said Denton.

The class started five years ago as a temporary grant program at the college. Last fall, it finally became a permanent course open to everyone.

“The skills that I learned here, I just wouldn’t have been able to pick that up on my own, or even just watching videos online,” said Piper.

Registration is now open for the fall semester; more information can be found at https://www.grossmont.edu/academics/programs/drone/program-info.php.

Instructors said you don’t need to have your own drone to take the course. Devices will be available during the class that you can use to learn how to fly.