Posted 5/03/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Could a drone camp for kids take off in Tioga?
The Economic Development Corporation is hoping to pique kids’ interests in drone technology and tie it into a promotional tool for the city.
“It’ll give folks a reason to come to town,” said Chris Norgaard, president of the EDC.
The economic development angle is that kids and their parents will come from around the state, stay in Tioga motels and eat in Tioga restaurants.
And maybe they’ll consider Tioga a place they might want to live.
Dennis Lindahl, economic development coordinator, said the camp is an economic development strategy, and any good strategy would need to involve kids.
“Demonstrating that a community has activities is an important component of creating a draw. Anyone that’s looking to move to a community or looking to move a business to a community, one of the things they’re going to look for is activity,” he explained.
Tying the town into drone technology is not so far off field as it might seem. The aerial vehicles are being utilized for a variety of applications in North Dakota industries.
Pipeline companies are using them for inspections. This includes leak detections and third-party encroachment on right of ways.
“If I’d have had one of these when I was doing inspections,” Norgaard said, “I wouldn’t have had to take a truck down a muddy right of way.”
They are also being used for promotional applications as the aerial shots they provide can produce some grabbing images.
“It gives you a different perspective,” Norgaard said.
Even the agricultural industry is looking at ways drones can be used for irrigation monitoring, mid-field weed identification, and locating cattle herds.
“We teach kids a definite skill that has an economic advantage, and that’s going to give Tioga an advantage,” Lindahl said.
Lindahl said he’s received interest in the program from a number of people knowledgeable in their applications.
This includes UND School of Aerospace Sciences, which operates a research center for unmanned aircraft systems. They’ve agreed to help develop a curriculum for the program.
Engineering company Ackerman-Estvold has said it could provide a demonstration on how drones are used for GIS mapping.
Lindahl is also looking into partnering with the U.S. Air Force to possibly do a flyover of the military’s drones or at least a static display.
He has also received preliminary approval of a $3,500 grant from the Minot Area Development Corporation’s Magic Fund to promote the program.
“They’re very excited about it,” Lindahl said.
The Magic Fund is similar to the Tioga Fund.
The free camp will be open to any student of North Dakota schools, and they will be taking the first 100 kids to sign up.
The EDC will be doing a presentation at the Tioga High School in May to get some local kids involved.
Lindahl is still looking for sponsors for the program. Anyone interested in participating or sponsoring the program can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.