Greenwood High School will offer drone classes for the first time.

Troy Jarrell, a certified UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) pilot, will teach the new class this fall. Jarrell has his own aerial photo/video business called G6M Productions. Jarrell will teach two classes for the school that will include everything from constructing the drones, FAA regulations, STEM skills, math and science skills and teamworking skills.

“There is a lot of interest in drones right now,” said GHS Principal Jerry Efurd. “There are a lot of careers for drone operators such as surveyors, security systems and farmers.”

According to the Arkansas Department of Career Education, drone classes have heightened interest in STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers because of the skills necessary to build a drone.

The class will assign two students per drone with 10 students in each class. Efurd said that although the announcement of the class was made late, the school has had great response from students who want to join the class.

Efurd said the ethics of drones and privacy will be a part of the subject matter relating to the course. If all goes well, the school potentially could expand the courses to drone II and drone III courses. Students eventually may be able to receive a drone pilot certification.

“Once the word gets out and the kids see what we are doing we expect interest to increase,” said Efurd.

Getting students interested in STEM careers is exactly why this class was created, said Chad Mercado, who teaches the class at Beebe High School. Mercado said that it all started on a whim.

“My principal texted me one morning and asked, ‘What do you know about drone?’” Mercado did not know anything about drones but was encouraged to research ways to bring the class to Beebe. The first class started in 2014 and was such a success that the school added a second class the next year and is currently building a curriculum for a third class to start this fall.

“I think drones will be like computers,” said Mercado. “Once businesses learned how to utilize computers, they became a social thing. The same thing will be with drone.”

Efurd said he recently visited a friend in Texas who is a farmer who built a drone in order to see what was happening on the interior of his crops and then began to contract to check the crops of his neighbors. According to Efurd, the project paid off when his friend discovered an infestation in the middle of his fields that he would not have seen without the assistance of a drone.