UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – On Saturday, April 30th, the MVCC ‘Drone Festival’ was not only fun, but it also showcased how the cutting-edge drone industry is linked to the future of Central New York and the opportunities available to future students.

“MVCC is the biggest kept secret there is. There is a lot of cool stuff going on. This is a part of robotics and is a very transformative industry.” – Event coordinator & head of MVCC’s drone program, William Judycki

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems AAS program is a 2-year degree program that teaches students to design, build, test, and remotely pilot drones from start to finish. But Judycki says the real value of the program is what you can do with them after you make them, which is making our lives easier.

“It’s used for a multitude of applications; let’s say you’re a surveyor and you get a job from an industrial advisory association that has property up for sale and they want to get it surveyed and they also want a high-resolution map to go show a potential customer. You can go shoot the property, now you have something to show, and you can make changes.” – William Judycki, Professor School of STEM – Career

Real-world applications for this kind of technology include high-resolution mapping and photogrammetry, beyond-line-of-sight technologies, as well as air taxis, and are currently being used by companies including Amazon and FedEx. In April of 2021, the program partnered with the company microdrones and the Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford to map its over 200-acre property.

“The MVCC Drone program is only just starting to scratch the surface of what is possible. For the Yahnundasis and especially for the agriculture industry, the technology can be used to map out grounds, locate old/future underground irrigation & electrical lines, identify areas that need to be treated with nutrients or for disease, and more.” – Chris Cartini, Golf Course Superintendent, Yahnundasis Golf Club

Judycki says that their program is always doing work in the local community and has also partnered with Hamilton College and SUNY Morrisville in the past. Graduates can go on to become pilots or data processors and can get jobs working for surveyors or companies that design, build, or repair drones. There are also jobs locally with companies like NUAIR at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, Thew Associates PLLC in Marcy, and United Radio in Syracuse.   

“Perfect performance under pressure, upon demand. Once this breaks, you’re going to see this all over the place. It’s my job to buy the best, I want my graduates walking into a job and saying, “Is that all you got?” – William Judycki