Airports all over the country have put significant effort into keeping drones well away from their airspace – but the Springfield-Beckley Airport Business Park has provided Clark State Community College students with their own drone hangar.
The Ohio Center of Precision Agriculture Hangar was dedicated at a ceremony last month. Agriculture is a significant economic force in the state – and Clark State Community College has one of the first precision ag courses in the country, offering agronomists training in the use of drone technology and other technology tools used to increase production and reduce costs.
“Clark State has one of the most extensive and long-standing agriculture offerings found at any community college in Ohio,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State, in a news release. “Clark State has developed the region’s only for-credit degree program in precision agriculture — one that provides students not only with classroom-based learning but with hands-on technical training at the Airpark Ohio UAS test range, located at the Springfield Municipal Airport.”
The deal is a win-win for the College and the city of Springfield. The project was funded with state capital dollars through a joint use agreement between the two parties. The college says that the hangar will be used for a “variety of projects” related to drones, and will also feature a small computer lab.
“First and foremost, the hangar will be used by faculty and students as a staging area for flight pre-planning and post-processing of imagery taken in our Certificate of Authorization (COA),” said Blondin. “Precision agriculture is a very time critical process, farmers need to get access to the data quickly, and this will show students in real time how the data processing can be done quickly to get them acclimated to the real world time issues that farmers face.”
Clark State also offers non-credit Part 107 training and review of FAA regulations, which will also utilize the space, as well as “raining on UAS applications in precision agriculture, law enforcement, inspections and search and rescue operations…”
While it wouldn’t work at every airport, the cooperation between the city and the college provides major benefits in this case. One of Ohio’s biggest economic verticals benefits from innovative training; the airport has expanded its use and the city manages the project and knows where the drone training is taking place. It’s a good example of collaboration between drone stakeholders and airports – one that could prove a model for other rural areas.