The University of Maine at Augusta will offer Maine’s first university-level unmanned aerial vehicle course starting in October, the school announced Tuesday.

The seven-week program, which begins Oct. 27 at the school’s Augusta campus, will offer students a path to seek a Federal Aviation Administration remote pilot’s license.

“There is a strong job market for licensed UAV pilots,” UMA President James Conneely said in a news release. “Serving the need to train UAV pilots will most certainly lead to economic growth for the state of Maine, attracting business or sparking development.”

Tom Abbott, project manager for the small UAV pilot training center at UMA, said applications for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are growing and include business uses and search-and-rescue applications.

Conneely, a trained pilot, and Abbott think the school is well-positioned to expand its aviation program to incorporate drone training as a fourth-year option in the bachelor’s degree in aviation program.

During the school’s convocation earlier this month, two of the aviation program’s coordinators, Gregory Jolda and Daniel Leclair, piloted a drone over the ceremony and used it to record video to showcase the vehicle’s capabilities.

Leclair, the Northeast regional commander of the Civil Air Patrol, has been involved with national drone training programs for the last three years. School officials believe that with the right kinds of support, including public and private partnerships, the university could become an unmanned aerial vehicle training hub serving a national market.

“Maine is projected to achieve 5 percent of the national UAV market,” Abbott said in the release. “We think that we can do significantly better than that.”

The noncredit course is open to the public, and planning is underway to offer a comprehensive series of courses to prepare graduates for the FAA examinations required to be a licensed drone pilot.

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