Special education director Jaunita DiGioia tests out Bristol County Agricultural High School’s just-delivered flight simulator for its new drone program.

Bristol County Agricultural School will soon have its own drone air force with 20 of the craft being purchased with a $493,728 state grant.

The grant will also purchase 3D printers, computers, flight simulators and other equipment.

School officials said the equipment will expand its natural resources management program to prepare students for drone pilot licenses.

Stasia Peters, director of agricultural and vocation education, said the school is creating a drone program to enable students to take advantage of the job market for operators.

There is expected to be a 400 percent increase in the need for employees with commercial drone licenses in the coming years, she said.

"It's enormous," she said of the job possibilities. "This is not for hobbyists."

She said there are a number of agricultural uses for drones, such as using infrared to monitor soil conditions, and for viewing crop management, forestry inventory, and landscaping.

Non-agricultural uses that the students will also be qualified for include search and rescue, police, fire insurance and mapping.

Principal Kevin Braga, who is also the assistant school principal, said the development of a drone program shows how Bristol Agricultural is always changing to provide training for new jobs.

"I think the key component of our 100 years is we constantly evolve," he said.

A flight simulator arrived at the school Tuesday, but the drones won't be up and running until June, he said.

A year from June students should be graduating with the training needed to become pilots, he said.

The school is also considering offering the training in its adult education program.

The grant came from the state Skills Capital Grant Program, which is funded by an economic development bill.

The drones cost between $2,000 and $8,000 each and the school intends to buy four or five different types.

The money was available through a program for vocational schools that want to buy new equipment for training in high-demand job markets.

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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(1) comment


This is going to be so exciting, For the school as well as for the students, I may be heading to http://discussedu.com/index.php/2017/10/07/top-ideas-for-college-and-high-school-essay-topics-for-you/ and share the experience I had at Bristol County Agricultural School, Thanks again

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