Kent State University taking study of drones to a new level

Posted at 6:29 AM, Mar 10, 2017

You see them everywhere: in stores and in the skies. They take amazing footage. At times they can put planes in danger.

We're talking about drones.

Kent State University is taking the study of drones to a whole new level.

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News 5 dropped in on a drone class at Kent. Jason Lorenzon was teaching.

“This is how we're going to operate in the national airspace system,” he said to the class.

The college kids are learning about drone safety and practical applications for a growing industry worldwide. They can minor in Unmanned Aerial Systems at Kent.

"It's a really good time to have college courses because things are changing and things are going in different directions," said senior student Jaime Laughlin.

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Lorenzon covered topics like what to expect in the near future with drones including upcoming drone races, whether drones can be hacked and how to produce safe pilots for these unmanned aircraft.

"It's such an important area right now...such a new and developing area,” said Lorenzon. “The students need that knowledge...that knowledge to operate successfully in the industry."

Drones are already being used for bridge and building inspections as well as during natural disasters to inspect damage and look for victims.

"A regular person might take a little longer to get up there or emergency teams might need a little more time to get up there, but you can take a drone and survey the site,” said senior student Ezell McAfee.

Farmers are using drones to watch and improve their crops.

Of course, the military has been using them overseas. Former Marine Kyle Zacharias, who takes the drone class, says drones need the attention here, too.

"Now we're operating these things in our airspace in the United States and how do we keep that safe? That's something the industry is…has been working hard on and they're going to have to continue," said Zacharias.

Lorenzon broke down for us the potential employment opportunities surrounding drones.

“Really, no pun intended, the sky's the limit when it comes to career opportunities."

News 5's research shows one other Ohio college has studies specifically dedicated to unmanned aerial systems — Sinclair Community College in Dayton.