Education to take flight at Capital Region BOCES – literally

The future of education at the Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical Education Center – Schoharie Campus is taking flight–literally!

Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, students in the Schoharie campuses’ Building Trades, Heavy Equipment Operator and Criminal Justice programs will receive training on operating drones.

“This training will help students build their resumes while giving them new, marketable skills in an advancing area of their careers,” said Principal Matt Ward.

The integration of drones into the curriculum opens a wide array of opportunities. Students will learn how to utilize drones for site surveying, capturing high-resolution aerial imagery, and conducting structural inspections.

“The commercial drone industry is a $40 billion industry and a large part of that is work-related, so these are good skills for the kids to learn,” added Heavy Equipment Operator teacher Matt Millard.

Millard, along with Building Trades Teacher Matt Hitchcock and Criminal Justice teacher Gerald Place are taking classes to become certified drone operators and educators. They recently took part in flight training at a facility in Victor, NY, where Hitchcock earned “Top Gun” honors for his flight skills during the training.

According to Place, drones are used often in the criminal justice field, from searching for subjects to identifying threats and getting a map of a crime scene.

Meanwhile, in the construction and heavy equipment industries, drones are used for everything from property inspection to site development.
“They even have drones now that can paint and tie rebar,” said Hitchcock.
The proper operation of drones goes beyond simply launching and maneuvering the aircraft.

“You have to check the weather, check the wind, read the maps, know the heights you can reach, there’s a lot to it,” Place said.
Capital Region BOCES Managing Program Coordinator-Business & Community Partnerships Nancy Liddle said, “This is an exciting new time for many of our industries and the introduction of of this new technology into our programs is preparing our students for the workplaces they will occupy in the future, not just the workplaces of today.”

For more information about CTE programs, visit