Greenwood High School has announced that they will be offering drone classes for the first time. “There is a lot of interest in drones right now,” said GHS Principal Jerry Efurd. “There are a lot of careers for drone operators such as surveyors, security systems and farmers.” Efurd stated that he recently visited a friend, who is a farmer, in Texas that built a drone in order to see what was happening on the interior of his crops and then began to contract to check the crops of his neighbors. According to Efurd the project paid off when his friend discovered an infestation in the middle of his fields that he was not have seen without the assistance of a drone.

According to the Arkansas Department of Career Education drone classes have heightened interest in STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers because of the skill necessary to build a drone.

Troy Jarrell, a certified UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) pilot, will be teaching the new class starting this fall. Jarrell has his own aerial photo/video business called G6M Productions. Jarrell will be teaching two classes for the school that will include everything from constructing the drones, FAA regulations, STEM skills, math and science skills, teamworking skills.

The class will assign two students per drone with 10 kids in each class. Efurd stated that while the announcement of the class was made late that the school has had great response from students that want to join the class.

Efurd stated that such subjects as the ethics of drones and privacy will be a part of the subject matter relating to the course. If all goes well the school could potentially expand the courses to drone II and drone III courses. Students may eventually be able to receive a drone pilot certification.

“Once the word gets out and the kids see what we are doing we expect interest to increase,” said Efurd.

Getting students interested in STEM careers is exactly why this class was created, according to Chad Mercado, who teaches the class for Beebe High School. Mercado stated that it all started on a whim. “My principal texted me one morning and asked, ‘What do you know about drone?’,” Mercado did not know anything about drones but was encouraged to research ways to bring the class to Beebe. The first class started in 2014 and was such a success that the school added a second class the next year and is currently building a curriculum for a third class to start this fall.

“I think drones will be like computers,” said Mercado. “Once businesses learned how to utilize computers, they became a social thing. The same thing will be with drone.”