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PHS students learn how to fly drones, pick up other skills along the way

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 6:54 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - A handful of Parkersburg High School students spent Wednesday morning on the football field, but they weren’t passing a ball back and forth. Instead, they were taking turns flying expensive-looking remote control quadcopters.

They’re a part of Steve Reiner’s drone class, which is a part of a larger robotics program at PHS. Drone class is exactly what it sounds like. It teaches students how to fly what Reiner calls “professional-quality" drones.

In class, students study the rules and regulations around flying drones, as well as how to take care of them. One student says they can even get certified to fly a drone commercially through the class.

“Say the news wanted footage of something, like they wanted footage of the football field, well if you don’t have a droning license, you can’t legally take footage for them and get paid,” said Kyle Edman, a senior at PHS.

Edman wants to earn his drone license and work directly with the little flyers, either through his own business or as an employee at another company. But, if that doesn’t work out, he’s always got the many skills he picked up along the way to fall back on. In order to get into drone class, Edman had to get through a prerequisite robotics course, and he has since gone on to take more robotics and even engineering courses. Picking up skills he says have better prepared him to enter the workforce.

“You learn what you need to know to go out of high school into a pretty good job, a good paying job too,” said Edman.

And the students in Mr. Reiner’s class are getting some job-like experience, too. In cooperation with Brown Owl Imaging, Reiner has set up a system that makes class feel a lot more like work. They even have to fill out timecards.

“Along with the drones, we are doing a simulated workplace and we have a gentleman, Tony Brown, of Brown Owl Imaging, out of Ohio, working with us to simulate a working atmostphere with our students," said Reiner.

Reiner keeps most of the flying on campus and relatively low to the ground, for safety reasons.

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