Two PSLA Seniors Earn Professional Drone CertificationFor four years, PSLA at Fowler students Belal Hamad and Yohan Trteizio have been studying drones. Through the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Career and Technical Education program, the students have been preparing for the Part 107 exam – a commercial remote pilot certification – since their freshman year.
This week, they both completed the 60-question exam, demonstrating their knowledge of FAA rules and regulations, airspace, weather sources, airport and drone operations and much more. Questions involved information that any pilot (whether unmanned or manned) must know before he or she is legally allowed to fly for commercial purposes. Belal and Yohan found out shortly afterwards that they passed, which means they are the first students in the SCSD RPAS program to take and successfully complete the written exam to earn certification!
This certification will give the students the opportunity to earn compensation as a commercial Unmanned Aircraft pilot.
“Given the current state of classes with COVID, this is a little light of hope for them and their classmates,” RPAS/Drone Technology teacher Quindell Williams explained. “It is rewarding for me to be able to help them cross the finish line in the middle of a pandemic during an odd senior year.”
NUAIR Chief Operations Officer Tony Basile has been working with the RPAS program since its inception, and said this is an exciting milestone for the entire program.
“These two students should be very proud of this accomplishment, not only because they are the first in this program to do it, but also because it gives them something tangible that they can put to use immediately to start a career if they so choose,” Mr. Basile said. “I’m hopeful that many more will follow them, as I can attest that a career in aviation is very rewarding.”
Yohan said the certification test was a way to justify his hard work throughout his high school career.
“I felt good about taking the test,” he explained. “I studied hard and took practice tests to prepare for the real one. There was definitely some pressure going into it since we were the first students from this course to take the exam, but we spent the last 3 and a half years preparing, so we were ready!”
Following their high school graduation, Belal and Yohan plan to put their skills to use. Belal hopes to become an Astronaut and saw the RPAS program as a stepping stone.
“Getting my Remote Pilot Certification means paying off all the hard work I have done in the past 3 and a half years,” Belal explained. “This is my very first step into Aerospace. I was passionate about it because without getting into Aviation, it would be hard to be an Astronaut! Next year, I will go to college to start studying Aeronautics while working as a Drone Pilot.”
Yohan hopes to pursue a career in mechanical or aerospace engineering and has applied to several colleges that offer those programs, including Cornell and Syracuse University.
“I've always had an interest in machinery,” Yohan said. “I do hope to work with drones in the future because they are versatile and are already being integrated into many work forces. I am also interested in the environment, but it is not doing so good right now. Drones and engineering can go hand in hand, and I feel like they can play a major role in saving the planet from irreversible climate damage.”
Congratulations and best of luck to Belal and Yohan as they continue their work in the RPAS field and beyond!