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Big Drone Event a learning opportunity for everyone from seniors to a 6-year-old, interested in drones as hobby or profession

Drone enthusiasts of Carroll County had the opportunity to network and learn from skilled users at the second annual Big Drone Event.

The Thursday night event was hosted by the Carroll Technology Council, an independent nonprofit that provides leadership resources and information to promote its member businesses and to attract technology growth in Carroll County.

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“So, drones have become a huge part of the industry,” said Kati Townsley, executive director of the Carroll Technology Council. “We have a wonderful collaboration with Carroll Community College. Last year, we just said, ‘Hey, let’s have a drone event’ and it was a huge success. So, we’ve taken it a step further this year and to include the sheriff’s department and we have members that are the instructors at the college. It’s just an interest and passion for them. So, we just want to be supportive of an interest that’s here in the community. Education has been added to the college to be able to highlight that and showcase that.”

Carroll Community College and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office spoke on their expertise on operating drones and about all the possibilities that operating drones can offer.

The Sheriff’s Office has been incorporating drone usage into its investigations for years.

“One of the big things that we do with [the drone] is when we’re on a major scene for a crime or something, we’re going to forensically map that entire scene anyway,” said Master Deputy Mike Prushinski. “We’re going to do that all at the ground level with the total station, the laser and all your traditional methods that we always have done, said What this has allowed us to do is to overlay that overhead map to that so that we can have even more precise data. We can go back and measure something that maybe we didn’t catch the first time.”

Master Deputy Mike Prushinski, right, who is an FAA licensed drone pilot for the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, describes the features of the agency's Yuneec H520 drone to Mark Hare, left, of Manchester and Dan Rusk of Westminster during the second annual Big Drone Event, a production of the Carroll Technology Council in conjunction with Carroll Community College in Westminster Thursday, July 11, 2019. The sheriff's office drone is equipped with a thermal imaging camera that can detect heat signatures even in darkness.
Master Deputy Mike Prushinski, right, who is an FAA licensed drone pilot for the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, describes the features of the agency's Yuneec H520 drone to Mark Hare, left, of Manchester and Dan Rusk of Westminster during the second annual Big Drone Event, a production of the Carroll Technology Council in conjunction with Carroll Community College in Westminster Thursday, July 11, 2019. The sheriff's office drone is equipped with a thermal imaging camera that can detect heat signatures even in darkness. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

According to Prushinski, they are happy to interact with the community and inform them how they are using technology to benefit everyone.

“Anytime we can involve the community and the technology so that they know the law enforcement is using this in a way that it’s purposeful, that’s safe, that’s in a positive way to help the community and help us out,” said Prushinski.

Carroll Community College offers classes for students to learn how to use drones and incorporate drones into whatever career path they choose.

“Anything that you wanted to do with a drone to make any money, [the FAA] required you to pass the exam and earn your remote pilot certification,” said Chet Andes an instructor for the drone program at the community college. “So, we started — since there was a certification attached to it — we wanted to train so that students can prepare for that certification.”

Chet Andes, the Drone program manager for Carroll Community College, gives a presentation during the second annual Big Drone Event, a production of the Carroll Technology Council in conjunction with Carroll Community College in Westminster Thursday, July 11, 2019.
Chet Andes, the Drone program manager for Carroll Community College, gives a presentation during the second annual Big Drone Event, a production of the Carroll Technology Council in conjunction with Carroll Community College in Westminster Thursday, July 11, 2019. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

According to Andes, they had enrollment in the first class and ran three cohorts of students to the workforce training certificate the past fall through this past spring.

Daniel Hancock, a Carroll Community College student, took the drone class and has been operating drones for years and plans to incorporate it into his career goals.

“I plan on doing, kind of like a side job of doing inspections, photography,” said Hancock. “I’m a farmer, so I do plan on going into the agriculture part of the business and just inspecting fields and everything with that, integrating everything I can so it fits together and works out correctly.”

Hancock is studying electrical engineering and expects to graduate in 2021.

“I’ve just been having fun with [his drone], learning what I can do with it,” said Hancock.

A DJI Phantom drone flies past as from left, Kevin Brown, Dan Rusk and Mark Hare operate another drone during the second annual Big Drone Event, a production of the Carroll Technology Council in conjunction with Carroll Community College in Westminster Thursday, July 11, 2019. Brown, the CEO of Quantum, is an FAA licensed drone pilot who uses a drone for surveying installations and other work.
A DJI Phantom drone flies past as from left, Kevin Brown, Dan Rusk and Mark Hare operate another drone during the second annual Big Drone Event, a production of the Carroll Technology Council in conjunction with Carroll Community College in Westminster Thursday, July 11, 2019. Brown, the CEO of Quantum, is an FAA licensed drone pilot who uses a drone for surveying installations and other work. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

J.C. Bradley attended the event because he is interested in learning more about drones and is interested in aviation.

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“I did talk to the Air Force about going in as a drone operator for them,” said Bradley. “So, what I’m doing right now is I’m going to get some of my training now and see who’s offering something better.”

Bradley learned about the credit courses at the community college while attending the event and plans to take the class.

Attendees of the event were able to fly drones, learn how they work and participate in a drone contest — they were given numbered ping-pong balls that they used to drop into a basket inside an empty kiddie pool. The winners received “swag” from the council and the community college.

The growing interest in drones varies in the community but Townsley is happy to provide the event as a resource for them.

“So, what I like about the interest in drones is that you have everybody from a young 6-year-old girl here tonight, all the way up to senior citizens. It’s just folks who have an interest in drones, whether it be professional growth or personal growth, or for their business or just a hobby,” said Townsley. “So, that’s just nice to be able to be an organization that can provide this resource here in the community.”

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