Northern Maine Community College incorporating UAS into curriculum



Northern Maine Community College (NMCC) Wind Power Technology Instructor Wayne Kilcollins, who recently became certified to fly UAS for business and work, will begin teaching Wind Power Technology students at the college about UAS.

Kilcollins will use his knowledge to teach students about the technology, and demonstrate how to use UAS to inspect wind turbine blades and nacelles. Kilcollins will do this, in part, using a UAS that NMCC purchased.

“We always aim to provide our students with the latest industry practices to keep them highly competitive in the workforce,” Kilcollins says.

“We frequently communicate with our industry partners to realize their needs. When we have an opportunity to anticipate their expectations, it definitely works in our favor.”

Being that NMCC is located near an airport, Kilcollins says that there are still regulations that have to be addressed in order to fly the new technology.

“In order to legally fly over the College, we needed to request a part 107b wavier from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA wavier along with an agreement with the Northern Maine Regional Airport allowed the manufacturer of our drone to open the airspace over the college for us to fly,” Kilcollins says.

“Otherwise our proximity to the Presque Isle airport restricts our abilities to enable drone flight training.”

The FAA can monitor UAS used for commercial activities using GPS. In addition to that, Restricted No Fly Zones (NFZ), like airports, are geofenced, which automatically locks the UAS from flying.

Launched in 2008, the Wind Power Technology program offers “broad fundamental training in the electrical, electronic, and mechanical aspects of the wind power industry, with a focus on wind turbine maintenance and electrical power production.”

Throughout the program, the National Electrical Code Standards are introduced and reinforced to keep students aware of “existing electrical standards that are required during their career activities as wind technicians.”

Students who have graduated from the program have gone on to work with wind farm operators, turbine manufacturers, and contractors providing maintenance and turbine support, locally and around the world.