At rural colleges, workforce development on a budget

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It has nothing to do with Monty Python, but the Flying Circus drone-race events during the past three years in Covington, Virginia, are one of many reasons and indications that rural community colleges and their students are looking toward the bright side of life.


Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in nearby Clifton Forge, a co-host of the drone racing event, has partnered with the city, a local economic development corporation and several local businesses to create a short-term certificate program for unmanned systems technicians, who learn to repair and maintain drones.


This has led a Florida company to add a site nearby, in what’s now called the Allegheny Highlands Drone Zone incubator, that will eventually hire 25 Lancaster-trained technicians, who will make at least $50,000 per year, says John Rainone, president of the college, which serves an 1,800-square-mile region with a population of only 70,000.

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