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South Coast University Celebrates New Guidelines Giving Students More Freedom To Fly Drones

CSU Channel Islands students learn about drones in an Environmental Science & Resource Management class.

A South Coast university is celebrating a new federal guideline that gives students more freedom to fly drones.

On May 4th, the FAA announced that it supports students’ use of unmanned aircraft at accredited educational institutions. By re-classifying such students as “hobbyists,” they now can fly drones with fewer restrictions.

This greatly impacts Cal State Channel Islands University, which has a growing number of drone-related courses. Sean Anderson, an Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Resource Management , said using drones is key to showing his students how to help better monitor and better manage the coastal zones.

“These tools are really fantastic augmenters of our existing skill sets – our field science skills, our natural history skills. So, we don’t see these things as the universe. We see them as one tool,” he said. “And what this ruling does is help us give students the training to have another arrow in their quiver, so they can go out and be responsible users of this technology.”

University officials said the new guideline is also good news for other disciplines. For example, a CI biology professor can use such unmanned aircraft to train students in marine mammal research by using drones to track and monitor large whales. Dance students can use drones to record their in-progress dance routines from a higher vantage point.

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