Sky full of opportunities

News Photo by Jordan Spence Rep. Sue Allor, Sen. Jim Stamas and Alpena Community College instructor Brian Dawson watch as a drone takes off for flight Monday on the ACC campus

ALPENA — Sen. Jim Stamas and Rep. Sue Allor looked to the sky in Alpena Monday. The legislators stopped in Alpena to view the Alpena Community College drone program in action.

“They’ll get a first hand look at things and we are trying to get them caught up on what we’re doing here. What we’re doing here is not being done anywhere else. Since we do drone training with a twist toward the electrical utility industry,” Dawn Stone, director of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants program, said.

Lead instructor Brian Dawson, media technician Gary Hollingsworth and Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium CEO Jim Makowske were there to demonstrate the equipment.

“We’re going to show them the data processor that takes the images the drone collects and creates 3-D models. We’re going to show them our equipment, forward infrared looking camera, which looks for hot spots and cold spots. Then we’ll fly the Phantom to show them how good the imagery is and show them an autonomous mission,” Stone said.

ACC President Don MacMaster said they were happy to host the group.

“We’re trying to be the first (when it comes to drones) and we’re trying to be sensible,” MacMaster said.

Stamas said it was an amazing opportunity to see the technology.

“It’s great to see all the community participation and to see the robust programing here at ACC,” Stamas said. “It’s nice to see them make sure they’re at the forefront of technology.”

Allor echoed Stamas’ sentiment.

“It really makes you think of all the opportunities. When drones first came out I think people thought of them as toys. But, now you can clearly see how valuable they are. It’s opening up a world of opportunities,” she said.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.