VCU offering courses to train mass communication students to fly drones


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The days are numbered for flashy news station helicopters, a staple in many newsrooms for decades. With the evolution of technology, drones have proven to be a valuable tool for multi-media journalists.  

Sending a drone skyward provides viewers with a unique vantage point, which allows storytellers to give their audience an otherwise impossible view. 

Due to the growing popularity of this technology, schools like Virginia Commonwealth University are offering courses geared toward training students to pilot drones. 

WATCH: 8News gets tour of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media & Culture

Director of Production Services at VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media & Culture, Gary Gillam, is teaching the course: “Special Topics: Drones this semester.”

Gillam says students will not earn their pilot license but will receive hands-on training on handling drones. 

“We have a field where the students can practice flying,” Gillam told 8 News. He added that there are complicated Federal Aviation Administration regulations on flying drones but this course gives students a leg up in training.

VCU’s program is part of a new nationwide movement, providing students with new skills in and out of the classroom.

The course is a “special topics” class that is offered once a year.

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