From the first time Wing Cheung saw what drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), could do for geographers, he knew the technology would revolutionize his field.

So Cheung spent the last several years building Palomar College’s drone technology program with Graphic Communications professor Mark Bealo.

The results have been inspiring not only local students but also industry groups and experts working in the UAS industry. In addition to providing students with hands-on operational training and licensing, Cheung and Bealo have also developed two professional certificates that draw on a range of classes in which students learn to apply their drone skills—highly employable skill sets not yet found in most college drone programs.

“In terms of teaching students to fly drones and process drone data, we are ahead of the curve,” Cheung said. “There’s a lot of excitement from various sectors in the industry about this technology, the work that we’re doing here at Palomar—and the work that our students are doing.”