By Cleve Bryan
POMONA, N.J., (CBS) — The drones are coming!
New Jersey has been chosen by the Feds as one of the sites around the nation that will be at the forefront of testing unmanned aircraft.
The move presents both opportunities and challenges.
For the last three years, Atlantic Cape Community College has helped train students in aviation jobs and this spring plans to offer a course about the newest field in flying – drone technology.
“It’s hot, it’s very topical and we’re very excited about the technology as well as our program,” Otto Hernandez, Atlantic Cape Dean of Career Education said.
The college’s class on unmanned aviation systems coincides perfectly with an announcement last week that the FAA chose New Jersey as one of six sites to research how to prepare our nation for the launch of domestic drones in 2015.
Atlantic Cape students will receive instruction about drones from FAA experts who work at the nearby tech center.
“What our instructors have promised is that our students will be about to look at some of the actual research and development that’s going on out there,” Hernandez said.
Rutgers University will be spearheading the actual government research in New Jersey through cooperation with Virginia Tech, but with the excitement comes some concern.
In Trenton Monday a committee of lawmakers debated how future drone usage should be regulated in New Jersey. While unmanned aircraft offer benefits like doing surveillance for law enforcement or inspecting the underside of bridges, drones bring up questions of privacy and safety.
They also bring the possibility of tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits.
“Should give us an enormous opportunity in the future for jobs, tremendous economic benefit, and something that should benefit all Americans if this is done properly,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) said.
College officials say while students may take some trips to the FAA Tech Center, most of the classwork will be done on the main campus, as for the Rutgers students they’ll be further up the coast in New Jersey doing their research at the Warren Grove Gunnery Range.