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West Palm Beach high school receives five drones worth $20,000

West Palm Beach high school receives five drones worth $20,000

West Palm Beach Lakes High School receives five drones worth $20,000 from Florida Power & Light to get the school’s new drone program off the ground.

West Palm Beach high school receives five drones worth $20,000

In support of its new STEM education program, West Palm Beach Lakes High School received a gift of five drones worth $20,000 from Florida’s largest utility company, Florida Power & Light. The new drone program will be started in the 2021-21 school year, reports The Palm Beach Post.

During a ceremony at the utility’s Distribution Control Center in Riviera Beach, the donation was made official.

“FPL is a big advocate of STEM, and this class goes right with what we try to support,” FPL spokesperson Paula Girard said. “We like to teach students innovation and technology to inspire careers. This school is a special school. It’s an underserved school, and these students, if they don’t go to college or go to the military, they’ll be able to hopefully get a job out of high school doing drone operations. That will open up a lot of doors for them.”

The drone program offers a two-semester class and allows for 20 students to participate to learn how to fly unmanned aircraft and earn two different drone operating certifications that are similar to those offered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Sgt. Jonathan Oakley said, who will be teaching the course. Initially, the class will only be open to seniors, however, Oakley said that they might expand it to include juniors after the first year.

“We want to teach them how to fly drones safely and some of the basic fundamental aspects of the drone itself,” said Oakley. “You learn math and aviation language and just the overall components of how it works.”

According to the FAA the number of certified drone pilots is expected to outgrow the total number of certified private and commercial pilots combined by 2023.

“The drone industry is slowly coming online,” Oakley said. “It is going to become a very large part of what we do. Amazon’s dream of having packages delivered by drones is very likely going to happen. Drones are becoming more and more prevalent in various industries.”

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Photo credit: The Palm Beach Post, Logan Riely

Haye Kesteloo

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