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Nevada rolls out pyramid-style drone-training program

Updated August 21, 2017 - 10:36 pm

Nevada’s drone officials are putting what one calls a “twist” on workforce development: the pyramid model.

Last week, three people, one with no prior drone experience, took a three-day class at the Switch Innevation Center, 6795 S. Edmond St.

These three people are now on a jobs-creating mission, said Chris Walach, senior director at the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems.

Each will seek out students to teach about drones as well as train people to teach others about drones.

“We need all the help we can get to expand the workforce here,” Walach said.

The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems and New York-based training and education provider SkyOp announced a partnership in July for the institute to offer SkyOp drone training programs in Nevada, Arizona, California, Utah, Washington, Idaho and Colorado. The training programs in Nevada will be held at the Innevation Center.

Rolling out the program

Last week was the first so-called “train the trainer” course.

The institute now has two people, one based in Northern Nevada and one based in Southern Nevada, trained to spread the SkyOp cirriculum.

“The end goal is to offer both the train the trainer and a student curriculum to expand the market,” Walach said.

Brett Kanda, business operations manager for the institute, said no training sessions have been set yet, but about eight Nevada employers, including ones in energy, real estate, agriculture and construction, have expressed interest so far.

There are many possibilities for drones to be incorporated into local company and organization operations, such as surveying and mapping. NV Energy conducted its first power line inspection using drones last summer.

Operations in Hawthorne

One of the students in the class, Lewis Smith, is president of Maryland-based Telesis Systems Inc., which works to provide veterans with in-demand skills in rural areas all over the country.

Smith might be the first graduate of the train the trainer course to transfrom the training into jobs. He will come back to Hawthorne in October to introduce the first of what he hopes will be many drone courses.

He will select a few graduates of the course to then go through the train the trainer course and grow the program from there, he said.

Smith said he chose Hawthrone after connecting with Shelly Hartmann, executive director of the Mineral County Economic Development Authority.

He said he was attracted to the opportunity to help the area develop more industry and help the local veteran population, which is around 600, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The drone courses will be open to anybody who is at least 16 years old, he said.

“Our plan is not just to focus on drone training, but to also then provide guidance and assistance in identifying potential employers, services or their own opportunities to start their own business,” Lewis said.

Hartmann said she hopes the pyramidlike model will prove to be effective.

“We’re excited about making the skills transferable, not only to a job, but also transferable to other individuals that need those skills,” Hartmann said.

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

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