College to launch drone operator specialty

Updated: 2016-04-09 02:37

By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou(China Daily)

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College to launch drone operator specialty

A technician demonstrates how to use a drone in farm production.

A technical college in Guangzhou is establishing a new specialty to meet the growing demand for feishou, or drone operators, in prosperous Guangdong province.

If there isn't enough time to complete preparations by the school term that starts in September, the program will begin enrolling students next year, said Lu Chusheng, deputy dean of Guangzhou Electromechanical Technician College.

"More than 3 million yuan ($463,000) has been invested in major facilities and updated equipment for the establishment of the new specialty so far, while another 5 million yuan will be used to bid for a piece of land, covering an area of more than 1,000 square meters, for teaching drone flight," Lu said.

The drone specialty is expected to become a signature subject at the college and attract a large number of high school graduates in the years ahead, since it should be easy for students to find jobs upon graduation, Lu said. About 50 students are expected in the first class.

Drones are being used in an increasing range of industries in the Pearl River Delta cities and the entire Guangdong province. In Shenzhen alone, more than 700 drone manufacturers are registered, Lu said.

Unmanned aircraft are widely used in fighting crime, fire control, rescues and agricultural industries.

Liang Rui'er, deputy director of the college's mechanical and electrical equipment industry division, said the new drone specialty is being established in cooperation with Beijing's Beihang University, which will send professors and instructors to give lectures.

"Students will be able to design, manufacture and operate drones when they graduate," Liang said.

Yang Weiqun, a professor from Beihang University who will participate in the teaching, said, "The drone specialty will have great potential in China, as the country needs a large number offeishou."

About 3,000drone operators were trained on the mainland last year, compared with between 30,000 and 40,000 in the United States, he added.

According to Yang, operating a drone that weighs less than 7 kilograms and flies at an altitude of no more than 120 meters at a distance of less than 500 meters doesn't require a license. Otherwise, operators need a license granted by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of China.

Guangzhou Electromechanical Technician College is expected to become the first to establish a drone specialty on the mainland, though many drone training centers have been set up across the country, Yang said.