PACInc partners with Nevada colleges to train new generation of pilots and programmers


Correction: The source article “As drone use rises, Nevada colleges gear up to train new generation of pilots and programmers” incorrectly lists Praxis Aerospace Concepts International, Inc. as the vendor for the UNLV program. The course and instructors are provided by Praxis Aerospace Concepts Incorporated (PACInc), an AUVSI Trusted Operator Program Training Provider.

Henderson, December 27th, 2018: Federal aviation officials have predicted that the fleet of commercial drones in the U.S. could quadruple in size from 2017 levels by 2022, driven by their growing use in real estate and aerial photography, surveying, agriculture inspection and many other fields.

“There’s a lot more talk about it, it’s in the news a lot more, so we get a lot more interest because of that,” said Heidi Erpelding-Welch, a program developer in UNLV’s Continuing Education department. “It’s so prevalent at this point. It’s something we saw as an additional need for workforce development.”

It’s one of the big reasons UNLV is introducing a certificate program this winter that, over two weekends, will not only prepare students for a written test to earn a drone pilot’s license but also offer an internationally recognized training program to set them apart in the field. The program emerges in a state that’s one of seven designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a drone testing site, as Nevada puts more focus on developing an autonomous technology industry and as drones becomes more ubiquitous.

UNLV used to offer drone pilot certification within its engineering program on a schedule that fit for more traditional undergraduate students. It phased out the program in 2016 to revamp it, ensuring it better fit the schedules of people who have full-time jobs already, but want to add drone flying to their skill set.

“One of the biggest fallacies is the idea of unfilled jobs where all you do is act as a drone pilot, and that’s not really the case,” said Jonathan Daniels, President of Praxis Aerospace Concepts Inc., which will host and provide the instructor and equipment for the program. ”This is a tool that will get you better at doing your job.”

The program has room for 20 students and costs $1,899. It runs on a Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday for two weekends in a row.

Students will learn the different applications of drones, the ins and outs of the regulatory system, how to read aeronautical charts, and how to operate a drone safely.  For 10 hours, they’ll either operate a simulator or fly a real drone.

What makes UNLV’s program different from other classes on drones is that it’s one of the first to adhere to Trusted Operator Program certification through the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Daniels likens it to buying organic produce — there’s a difference between someone slapping the “organic” label on an apple, and the apple being the product of a rigorous set of organic farming standards.

“That provides a professional framework based on industry standards and best practices and regulation, to really target an employable remote pilot,” he said.

Read the full article in The Nevada Independent by Michelle Rindels here. 

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