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Enlighten Me: Wilmington brings drone, VR training programs to city teens

Wikimedia Commons/Frankie Fouganthin

The city of Wilmington is partnering with a drone school to provide drone and virtual reality training programs for teens.

The city and Drone Workforce Solutions Drone School (DWS) are teaming up to provide a 16-week training course about the operation of drones and associated drone technology and a four-week course on the use of virtual reality computer technology to create simulated environments.

Scholarships will be given to 11th and 12th graders living in the city to cover the cost of the classes and use of equipment. Ten teens will be selected for each program. The Parks and Rec. Dept. will provide transportation to classes and lunch.

Wilmington Parks and Recreation Director Ian Smith says the drone classes can open a career door for these high school students.

"We know for a fact the entry price point to get into this industry is beyond what our youth are able to afford, so it's giving them access to the entry into this industry. It's giving them the knowledge of the industry which has many legs in terms of other business opportunities for them either as a private business or joining other companies that are utilizing drones."

Smith says the VR classes could open doors to jobs in the city where the technology can be helpful.

"Documenting buildings for emergency situations, having to go into a building for fire and having whole buildings already documented so firefighters know where they're going and what they're looking at without having to pull out a blueprint. So, we're really excited about all of the many legs that this opportunity gives us, and looking to see which ones naturally emerge."

Those completing the courses successfully will receive a six-to-12 week paid internship, and drone course grads will take the FAA exam to become a licensed drone pilot. 

All classes in each program will be held on Saturdays starting on October 23.

The city and DWS will hold two more informational sessions for prospective students at the Williams “Hicks” Anderson Community Center on September 28 and October 5 with each session starting at 6:30 p.m. Students interested in attending either of the classes should attend an information session to learn more about the courses and complete an application. 

The drone classes will be held at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce on 920 Justison Street on the Christina waterfront. 

The four VR classes will be at the Williams “Hicks” Anderson Community Center on 501 North Madison Street. 

More information on the classses is available at the City of Wilmington's website.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for nearly three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.