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Morgan Henton Joins OCC as Drone Technology Specialist

Morgan Henton PhotoMorgan Henton has joined Olney Central College as the Drone Technology Specialist for the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Title III Block Grant.

The Title III program is supported in part by a five-year grant awarded to Olney Central College from the U.S. Department of Education effective October 1, 2018. The estimated total cost for all project activities is $2,506,775 financed by the grant award of $2,249,968 (90%) and $256,807 (10%) by Olney Central College. Initiatives at OCC include implementing a new Drone Technology Program.

“I’m looking forward to sharing my passion with the students,” said Henton, who has held a commercial drone license since 2016. “Drone technology is one of the fastest growing industries. It is constantly expanding with new applications. I want to show the students that not only can it be fun to fly, but it can prepare them for a career in a fast-paced developing field.”

Today drones are routinely used by fire departments and law enforcement agencies conducting search and rescue missions, utility companies inspecting infrastructure, and construction and engineering firms. Locally, the biggest user for drones is the agricultural industry, where they are incorporated into precision growing operations.

Henton has extensive experience working with drones having utilized them for his video production company.

Since assuming his new post, Henton has been busy developing the Drone Technology curriculum. The program, which will begin in August, will include both a certificate and a two-year associate’s degree.

“I think it’s exciting narrowing down the classes so we offer what is most useful to our students,” Henton said. “I want them learning and using the equipment they will need in the field. We want classes that are meeting the industry needs. This degree and certificate will enable them to be qualified to fly a drone and those who complete the class will be pretty versatile.”

While developing the program, Henton has researched drone programs at other institutions. He recently visited both Indiana State University in Terre Haute and Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

“We want to see what other programs are doing and make sure our program coincides with those,” he added. “The goal we are working on is to ensure our students can easily transfer and complete their bachelor’s degrees.”

The Drone Technology Program will be located at the West Richland Center in Noble. Renovations on the classroom and lab space will get underway soon.

“I’ve been researching equipment for labs and trying to narrow down the focus of what we need,” Henton said. “The drone industry is so large. Each area takes a different drone and camera system. I’m focusing on which will help prepare our students best. My goal is to have a variety of drones with a variety of uses.”

Henton also plans to incorporate software that will enable students to analyze data collected from the drones.

“I’m looking to have internship classes where students can meet with local industry people who have uses for a drone,” Henton added. “The student would meet with the client, determine what the needs are, problem solve and complete the job.”

Henton attended OCC and transferred to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness economics. He worked in agriculture sales for eight years. Henton currently serves on the Richland County Board, is Vice President of the Parks and Recreation Board and is a member of the Richland County Development Corporation and the Richland County FFA Alumni.

To learn more about the Drone Technology Program, contact Henton at 618-393-3566 or send an email to hentonm@iecc.edu.

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