Because a student at Corliss High School in Chicago asked if the school could offer a class about drones, a few students are now licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly them, the Chicago Tribune reports.
When the student first asked about the possibility, Phylydia Hudson, the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program manager, thought she might be able to study the materials and help students in the class. She quickly realized the math and science involved in actually passing the FAA’s licensure exam were beyond her scope, the paper reported.
Luckily, Brandon Parks, a Corliss staff member with experience in air traffic control from his time in the Marine Corps, lent an instructional hand. And with donations from other staff members and the school’s corporate sponsors, the cost of the exam, $175, was covered, and instructional materials were provided free to students.
One senior who took and passed the exam this year is A’Janay Lurry. According to the report, she is the first commercially licensed Black female drone pilot under 21. “It was a good learning experience,” the Tribune quoted her as saying. “Flying the drones is kind of like video games, and I enjoy video games.”
Another senior who passed the test, Jonathan Turner, told the paper he planned to major in computer engineering. “This really gave me a lot of options in life, a lot of interesting options too,” he was quoted as saying.
Corliss is an early-college STEM school in the Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s far south side that serves about 300 students. Air Force Academy High School and Dunbar Vocational Career Academy are the two other schools in the Chicago Public School system that host aviation programs.