FPTC supports Hwy. 79 corridor project through “Drone Program”

Recently celebrating their 50th anniversary, providing  job-ready employees to businesses in the Southeast United States, Florida Panhandle Technical College prides itself on staying current in the provision of cutting-edge technology education. Programs such as CyberSecurity, Network Technology, Hemodialysis and Drafting, inclusive of 3D printing, have attracted the attention of employers in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and surrounding areas.

Recently the brand-new ‘Drone Program’ at Florida Panhandle Technical College was approached by the local economic development contingents of Bonifay, Holmes County and Washington County to participate in the Highway 79 Corridor Project,  an inter-local agreement between the city of Bonifay, Holmes County and Washington County.

The overall goal of the project is to piggyback on the four-laning of Highway 79 in an attempt to attract business development to Highway 79, from I-10 in Bonifay, south to Douglas Ferry Road in Washington County, encompassing areas in all three entities.

Holmes County Coordinator Wesley Adams suggests a need for gas stations, hotels, strip malls and, through these components, most importantly, jobs, and through the efforts of Florida Senator George Gainer, the project recently received one million dollars to lay the groundwork for development.

The Florida Panhandle Technical College Unmanned Aerial Systems Program or ‘Drone Program’, a term more commonly used, comes into the picture for their capability to furnish aerial photo and video mapping of the project area, approximately 3 miles by 2 miles in size.

With arguably little to no economic growth for the last decade, both Washington and Holmes County officials are ready for some relief, and the efforts of Florida Panhandle Technical College will, at the very least, save the project some of their very limited funds.

In August, students and instructors from the Florida Panhandle Technical College Drone Program started the process of overflying the project area, shooting photos and video. These images will ultimately be used to produce a 3D map of the terrain, including buildings, roads, infrastructure, vegetation, waterways and other elements of the area, which will subsequently be used to plan growth and attract interested businesses.

“We are very excited to be a part of this project,” said Florida Panhandle Technical College Director Martha Compton, “and it is an excellent learning opportunity for our staff and students, ultimately increasing the value of our program and hopefully attracting attention from consumers for our product, and students, over time.”

The documentation of the project will ultimately help to serve not only as a ‘how-to’ for the effort, but also a recruiting tool for this program, and other programs, at Florida Panhandle Technical College.

At present Florida Panhandle Technical College offers over 40 degree and certification programs and enjoys a high placement rate for graduates from the various skilled programs, including welding, electrical, multi-media design, carpentry and cabinetmaking, medical administrative assistant, culinary, cosmetology, IT, cyber security and networking, nursing, drafting, law enforcement and public safety, digital media and continuing adult education. For more information about these programs and over 40 certification and degree programs offered, stop by the student services of Florida Panhandle Technical College at 757 Hoyt Street in Chipley, call 850-638-1180 extension 361 or visit www.FPTC.edu.