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There's a lot you need to know before flying a drone in Maine, but programs at UMA can help with that

The tour made its way to the University of Maine at Augusta in Bangor campus on Wednesday.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The University of Maine at Augusta is showcasing its remotely piloted aircraft programs through events happening across the state. The purpose is to show Mainers the value of drones in different industries.

On Wednesday, the introductory event made its way to the campus in Bangor. 

According to a press release, UMA is the only university in Maine to offer an unmanned aerial system pilot training program. 

Daniel Leclair, the director of education and research for UMA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems, said a wide range of students are interested in drones.

"We cross a lot of different demographics, in that we do have first responders, and we do have traditional college students. We have students in our early college program that are high school students, as well as people looking to either change jobs or looking for a job in retirement," Leclair said.

Leclair said being a certified drone pilot can be particularly useful to first responders. For example, drones can assist with crash reconstruction. 

"They don't have to close a road down for long periods of time, and they can just fly a drone over the accident scene for 15 minutes," Leclair said.

It can also be helpful in handling a variety of different types of situations, even ones making headlines in Maine recently. 

"A lot of the park rangers here in Maine are using their drones looking for sharks and also for lost people," Leclair said. 

Thomas Fennell works for the Penobscot Emergency Management Agency and is working on getting his remotely piloted aircraft certification. He said he hopes to introduce this type of technology to his department. 

"Just having that aerial imagery to get like volumes of flood impacts, the amount of soil that was dispersed, or in wildfires, you can get the range of where it's going and where it could in the future," Fennell said.

In addition to retrieving information at a faster pace, it's also more efficient, often reducing the amount of manpower needed for a job.

"To do the work that a drone can do in the field would be like 15 people to, you know, get that amount of information," Fennell said.

"In the future, who knows. It's gonna be ... we haven't even imagined what we're gonna be doing with them," Leclair said.

There are only three remaining stops for this statewide tour:

  • UMA Houlton Center: Thursday, 1 to 4 p.m.
  • UMA East Millinocket Center: Friday, 9 a.m. to noon
  • UMA Brunswick Center: Sept. 9, noon to 3 p.m.

UMA offers a bachelor's degree in applied science with a remotely piloted aircraft major, a 31-credit hour certificate in Unmanned Aerial Systems, and a basic commercial drone course to prepare for the FAA Part 107 Commercial Remote Pilot certificate.

For more information about these programs, click here

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