Drone College Courses – 2 Free Courses Offered by Grossmont College

Drone College Courses – 2 Free Courses Offered by Grossmont College

March 6, 2019 9 By Scott Hinkle
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I guess it was inevitable. First there were online courses. Then in-person seminars started popping up. Now it looks like you can find drone college courses too! Grossmont College, in El Cajon California, is now offering a free drone piloting course.

In my Get the FAA Drone License – Make Money Legally With Your Mavic post, I really didn’t touch on colleges as a resource. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of colleges offering drone related courses. It just goes to show you that drones are a growing market and they’re here to stay. Let’s see what we can find out about this free offering…


Drone College CoursesWhat is the Class About?

Actually there are multiple courses. The primary course is aimed novices and is designed to train them to become FAA-certified commercial drone pilots. Basically, it’s aimed toward helping students obtain their FAA Part 107 certification and takes about 100 hours to complete.

The additional tracks focus on the following:

  • Cinematography – A course on how to use drones for various cinematic categories including; weddings, movies, real estate, commercials and so on. This course is currently being taught by an Emmy-nominated cinematographer who works with several media companies including; Fox Sports Net, HBO and more.
  • Surveying – This course focuses on mapping and surveying for use in areas such as construction, farming, military and security.

As it stands right now, that’s 2 courses being offered at this university. Drones are even provided for class use. Add to that additional courses that are in the works, such as programming and technology that make autonomous aircraft function, and you can really see how drones are starting to become main stream. It will be interesting to see what other courses pop up over time.

Check out this news clip from KUSI News, San Diego:

BrainstormHow Did These Drone College Courses Come to Be?

These courses were made possible by a $6 million U.S. Department of Labor Promise grant. With the funding in-hand, high interest from those wanting to be drone pilots and demand from multiple business sectors, Grossmont College was very keen to start these programs.

Don’t forget, thanks to the grant, the primary course is free! Although I am not sure if the additional tracks are free, from what I can tell, based on their released statement, they should be, as they are part of the Drone Technology Program.

RequirementsWhat are the Requirements to Take the Courses?

The grant stipulates the following requirements:

  • Students are required to be United States citizens.

Groups being specifically targeted include:

  • Veterans
  • Native Americans
  • Military spouses
  • Ex-offenders
  • Women
  • High school students
  • The unemployed/underemployed.

Direct Excerpt from the Grossmont College Website

Grossmont College launches drone program with free piloting classes

Contact: Della Elliott (619) 644-7690 della.elliott@gcccd.edu

Grossmont College’s much-anticipated Drone Technology Program launches Oct. 30, with grant-funded classes offering free, comprehensive instruction designed to train novices to become FAA-certified commercial drone pilots with skills to pursue jobs or to become self-employed.

President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh said the college is excited to offer the new program at no cost to students, noting that private drone schools typically charge thousands of dollars for the training. Despite the cost, the training is growing in demand with many drone pilots working as freelance contractors, flying drones for small businesses and major companies, alike. Grossmont College’s classes train pilots for two commercial tracks – Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) cinematography and UAS surveying and mapping.

“Clearly, the interest and demand are there and with the funding to support developing education and training in this burgeoning career field, we were very keen to start this program,” Abu-Ghazaleh said, adding that as the new curriculum is expanded, classes will be offered next spring in the programming and technology that make autonomous aircraft function.

Grossmont College is unique statewide in offering the classes for free, thanks to a $6 million U.S. Department of Labor Promise grant that was shared by Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges to create education and industry partnerships to train underserved students for high-skilled, in-demand jobs. The grant – the only one of its kind in California – was among the largest awarded to 23 colleges, universities and workforce partnerships across the country. Partnering with Grossmont College in the local program are the San Diego Maritime Alliance and the East County Economic Development Council.

Javier Ayala, the college’s dean of Career Technical Education and Workforce Development, said it was the large turnout of drone enthusiasts to a Grossmont College workshop two years ago that convinced him a drone technology program would be in demand as a new career training option. Job projections for drone operators is on a vertical ascent as the commercial use of the unmanned aircraft becomes ubiquitous.

From their military origins, drones are now must-have tools in industries such as real estate, filmmaking, photography and even agriculture. Analysts at the consulting group PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP predicted in 2016 that the global market for commercial applications of drone technology could reach $127 billion by 2020.

Grossmont’s program is providing UAS Ground School and FAA 107 certification classes to become licensed commercial drone pilots. Students who complete the ground school module and possess a drone pilot license can then go on to take classes specializing in either UAS cinematography or UAS surveying and mapping.

The cinematography track meets 4-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays Oct. 30-Feb. 12, 2019 in Bldg. 36, Room 354. Taught by an Emmy-nominated cinematographer who works with Fox Sports Net, HBO and other media companies, this track teaches students how to use drones for weddings, movies, real estate videography, commercials and more. The course covers both basic and advanced cinematography techniques with an emphasis on developing creativity.

The surveying and mapping track meets 4-8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays Nov. 7-Feb.1, 2019 in Bldg. 36, Room 340. Students in this track train for surveying and mapping large masses of land and waters for such job fields as construction, farming, military and security. Pilots receive extensive flight time and by the end of the program, students will know how to do precision mapping missions and data collection for multiple industries and operations.

The grant funding the Drone Technology Program requires students to be United States citizens and is targeted to groups including veterans, Native Americans, military spouses, ex-offenders, women, high school students and the unemployed and underemployed. Drones are provided to students.

To register, go to https://tinyurl.com/APdronetechnologytraining Deadlines are Oct. 23 for the cinematography track and Oct. 31 for the surveying and mapping track.

For more information, email Kathie.Nino@gcccd.edu or call (619) 644-7549.


It’s nice to see drone education hitting the big leagues, and this one’s free no less! I hope to see more drone college courses in the near future. I truly believe the more education we get out there, the better off the drone community will be.

Do you have any experience with college drone courses? Do you know of courses at a college near you? Do you have any comment related to drone education in general? Please comment below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

I’d love to start a list of colleges around the world that offer drone courses for my readers. If you have any information please share it by commenting below.

Thank you,

Scott Hinkle


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