Mercer County Community College has launched a program that provides certification for drone pilots. The program, a seven-week session beginning Tuesday, October 24, is offered in partnership with Cranbury-based ABJ Drones, which will provide opportunities for employment upon completion of the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) curriculum. The public can see a preview of the course Friday, October 6, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at an open house for the college’s new advanced manufacturing laboratory.

“Drones are a technological game changer in the way we solve problems, conduct business, innovate, and view our world,” said Vip Jain, CEO of ABJ Drones. “We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift driven by the use of drones.”

The first class in the program begins during MCCC’s seven-week session on October 24 with UAS 101, Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The course is an overview, emphasizing the commercial and military history, growth, and current and future applications. The course includes a test for Federal Aviation Administration remote pilot certification. Upon completion of the 14-18 credit hour curriculum, students will receive a certificate of achievement in aviation technology.

As many as 100,000 new jobs will be created after UAS are cleared for U.S. airspace, according to a 2013 report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, with multiple applications including agriculture, law enforcement, real estate, scientific surveys, and news reporting.

“We have seen the future of aviation, and drone-based technology will play an integral part in how business and industry approaches the application of aircraft for a variety of commercial and scientific needs,” said Jianping Wang, president of MCCC. “Through our partnership with ABJ, Mercer County Community College students will experience, hands-on, the type of technologies that will enable them to qualify for lucrative careers in this burgeoning new industry.”

With locations in Cranbury, London, and Pune, India, ABJ specializes in commercial, industrial, scientific, and military uses for drones. To boost the new program at Mercer, ABJ is offering a free DWI X3 Micro WIFI Quadcopter with HD Camera to the first 20 students who enroll. Students enrolling as a group of three will receive a FPV-WIFI 2.4G R/C Drone with light and 720P Camera.

The class will take place at the new advanced manufacturing laboratory, which MCCC says is the first of its kind in the region. The laboratory features vertical and horizontal mills, Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) mills, lathes, CNC lathes, drill presses, vertical and horizontal band saws, surface grinder, and power press. Students have the option of earning a degree in advanced manufacturing technology, a program that began this fall.

The $1.2 million, 3,000-square-foot lab was constructed beginning with funding from the Building Our Future Bond Act approved by a state voter referendum in 2012.

The public will also be able to see MCCC’s new digital production and broadcast studio, and the Domain Tech Academy@Mercer, which is a technical support operation by Domain Computer Services, staffed by paid student interns.

Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, Box B, Trenton 08690. 609-586-4800.

ABJ Drones, 2661 Route 130, Cranbury 08512. 888-225-1931. Vip Jain, CEO.

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