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High school students "take off" in new drone operation class

Pima JTED Drone Class
Posted at 7:26 AM, Apr 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 10:26:48-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Learning no longer takes place from just a classroom. A group of high school students are learning with technology hundreds of feet in the air.

"When I was younger, I had my own remote control planes and I loved flying around," said Pima JTED student, Kagan Barber.

That's what made Barber a perfect fit for Pima JTED's air transportation and drone operation class.

"Being able to apply it in a real world setting, in a classroom, is one of my favorite things," said Barber.

The class is new in the 2020-2021 school year and the first-of-its-kind in Southern Arizona. As a career and technical education district, Pima JTED helps students earn three certifications to fly drones and other aircraft.

"A lot of people don't realize that they have to have a license in order to fly drones, legally, and make money," said Pima JTED teacher, Levi Olivé.

Olivé said jobs through companies like Raytheon and Amazon use drones every day.

"They can come here, get their license and get right to work," said Olivé.

Much of Olivé's class is hands-on, so learning remotely during the pandemic was a struggle. Now that most are back in class, students are taking off.

"It's really nice to start getting in the loop and building and flying the drones that we've been missing out on," said Barber.