Republic Polytechnic’s drone training centre takes flight

PILOT FOR A DAY: Visitors at the RP Open House experience what students go through at the RP Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) training centre by learning to use a flight simulator first to gain confidence before flying their drones. (PHOTO: Nicole Kam)

Republic Polytechnic (RP) launched its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) training centre on Jan 5 at the start of its three-day Open House.

The centre opened its doors to provide both the students and public with training solutions on UAV operations, regulations and safety.

Housing more than 50 drones, the centre was developed due to increasing interest from students, organisations and the public and is the first of its kind among local institutes of higher learning.

“The RP UAV Centre has an important role to play in skills development of our students and industry participants, helping companies seize new opportunities that drone technology brings,” said RP’s Principal/CEO, Mr Yeo Li Pheow.

“As we mark RP’s 15th year in delivering quality education and celebrate this important milestone, we will continue to expand our industry engagements to train future-ready professionals for the workforce.”

The UAV Centre was one of two new facilities launched at the start of the RP Open House, which is an annual showcase for prospective students and parents to find out more about the various courses offered at the polytechnic.

The first day of the event saw Guest-of-Honour, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister in Prime Minister’s Office, officiating the launch of the RP-Unity Teaching Retail Pharmacy, the only such dedicated facility among the polytechnics.

Mr Chan also launched the RP15 ‘Giving Thanks Campaign’, an initiative that sought to curate the collective gratitude of students, staff, alumni and friends of RP through memorable photos captured on Instagram and a ‘RP15 Tree’.

Training UAV users

RP first developed a two-day basic course to educate and train UAV users in 2015. It has since trained 120 participants from the industry and government agencies.

Today, the RP UAV Training Centre has expanded to offer a range of UAV courses at the basic and advanced levels.
Within RP, students from the Diploma in Interactive and Digital Media, Aerospace Avionics, as well as Aerospace Engineering, will be able to benefit from the centre as part of their curriculum.

“I’ve always been interested in drones and how they work, so I would be interested to sign up for the courses, if I have the chance to as it would benefit me a lot,” said Ong Zheng Yuan, 21, a second-year aerospace engineering student.

However, the UAV Centre’s take-off was not without its fair share of headwind.

“The main challenges we were faced with was obtaining permits for the drones to come in from overseas, as well as getting the equipment we needed,” said Mr Decwel Chan, 40, a lecturer from the Diploma in Interactive and Digital Media who was one of the six drone instructors.

“However, it was worth it as the centre will help bring brand awareness to RP and show that as a school, we are evolving.”

The centre hopes to be able to collaborate with industries and will be introducing more advance courses such as three-dimensional imaging in the third quarter of the year.

“I’m impressed that the school takes such an initiative to improve the learning experience for their students,” said Ms Natalee Chong, 46, parent of a Secondary Four student, who had come to the RP Open House to learn more about its course offerings.

“I can’t wait to see more developments in the years to come.”