Hinds Community College’s partnership with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center has grown with the addition of a third UAS training class offered through the college.
Four employees with ERDC in Vicksburg participated in an Advanced Data Collection class at the Fab Lab on the Raymond Campus Jan. 28. The course focused on inspecting data collected from devices attached to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, involved in bridge and levee inspection missions undertaken by the agency.
They were also introduced to multidimensional UAS mapping software, flight preparation concepts and techniques, aircrew management, photogrammetry collections, mission planning, project creation, initial processing and basic data outputs.
“This is a great partnership between ERDC and Hinds for this training,” said Dr. Stan Woodson, director of the ERDC Graduate Institute, which works to promote career development opportunities for its employees with nearly a dozen four-year universities in the Southeast, plus Hinds. “Particularly with our technician-level employees, this training is developing a very unique skill set to the Corps. As a result, it is enhancing their careers with us.”
ERDC Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory technician Lamar Bolls hoped to be among those who can advance his career with the professional development opportunity.
“We learned to process and assess data from a simulated UAS platform,” Bolls said. “In the class, we’re able to look at the project from a second angle with more detail, versus just a 2D view.”
The class expands on training the college and ERDC have partnered on since 2018. Hinds also provides instruction and classroom space for Corps employees seeking to be a Federal Aviation Administration licensed UAS pilot/operator, as per federal regulations and the US Army Corps of Engineers Aviation Program.
“Our first Advanced Data Collections class was a huge success,” said Brad McCullouch, director of commercial aviation. “Ben Barham, a past graduate of the program with advanced training in UAS, instructs the course as well as our regular UAS and primary flight classes. Additionally, Josh Bower, our director of Talent, Workforce & Economic Development, continues to be instrumental in the planning and scheduling of these types of classes.”
Barham holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in planning and development form the University of Southern Mississippi and a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the University of Missouri.
About 126 people with the Corps have participated in the pilot certificate training and about 34 people have completed primary flight training since the partnership with the college began, said Jenny Laird, program manager for the UAS program at ERDC.