a drone with orange cones
The almost $375,000 grant will give students at local schools the opportunity to learn to pilot a drone or a private airplane.

Beaufort CCC, IBX STEM, BCS & Dillon’s Aviation Receive FAA Grant

High school students will soon be taking to the sky with the latest technology. Beaufort County Community College (Beaufort CCC) was awarded a $374,930 Workforce Development Grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to prepare Beaufort County high school students to become airplane pilots or uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV, also know as drone) operators. Beaufort CCC is partnering with Inner Banks STEM Center (IBX STEM), Beaufort County Schools (BCS), and Dillon’s Aviation to create and run a High School Aviation Academy. The academy will operate out of the IBX STEM Center at Washington-Warren Airport, Washington, N.C. The course and all materials will be free to participating students.

The FAA grant will be used to create two aviation courses: a 14-week Private Pilot course and a 13-week UAV Operator course. Each course will consist of a self-study online ground school component and an in-person hands-on component. The partners have an opportunity to apply for a second year of funding.

Students will spend Saturdays at IBX STEM Center reviewing online modules for the week and conducting hands-on activities. Flight instructors from Dillon’s Aviation will review ground school materials for the Private Pilot course and students can practice using flight training devices and a full-motion flight simulator to practice maneuvers. Drone instructors from IBX STEM will review ground school materials, and students will build an actual drone and learn about all aspects of drone operation in the National Airspace System, including flight maneuvers.

“This is a profound opportunity for our students,” said Beaufort CCC president Dr. Dave Loope. “The applications for drones in our area are great, and we are happy to continue our partnership with IBX STEM.” Beaufort CCC has worked with IBX STEM on summer youth programming and a STEM Day where youth get to explore programs on campus.

“UAVs are the websites of today,” said Ben Poulin, industry training & UAV operations coordinator at Beaufort CCC. “As they become widely available, an increasing number of companies will incorporate them into their operating model, and these students will be first in line to take advantage of these opportunities.”

At the end of the academy, successful students will receive a certificate of completion, at which point they can take the respective online FAA examination at a designed third-party testing facility. After passing the FAA examination for either the Private Pilot Certificate or the Part 107 UAV Drone Operator Certificate, students can work as a professional pilot or drone operator.

Students, guardians, or parents can learn more by visiting www.beaufortccc.edu/aviation.