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Taft High's After-School Program Laying Groundwork For Statewide Education

Matt Ernst
A pair of unidentified Taft students work with a drone.

The advisor of an after-school club at Taft High School is looking at turning the activity into curriculum. Matt Ernst says the Drone Club at the West End school started four years ago as a way to introduce students to the growing field of remote piloting. Now he's working with the Ohio Department of Education to take the idea statewide.

"They're revamping the whole transportation pathway," he says. "So maybe by 2022-23 school year, we'll have drones included in there with complementary courses. Then the students can take that pathway and graduate with a drone license."

Ernst says right now, a club member who qualifies for a drone pilot license gets points toward graduation.

"Any junior or senior in high school can get their pilot's license. They're given six graduation points for that license. They need 12 to graduate," he says.

Ernst says the club helps students learn FAA rules and regulations, and there's a new focus on teaching finance and business skills so students can go into business for themselves. "We take the entrepreneurial things, and we look at, how do I start my own business? What kind of investment am I going to need? Do I write up a business plan?"

Ernst says he first became interested in drones when he saw Amazon investigating using them. He says it's a growing field with more than 150 applications in not only delivery, but also agriculture, construction management, photography, mining and public safety.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.