Clark State Community College now officially occupies an airplane hangar at Springfield-Beckley Airport Business Park. The Ohio Center of Precision Agriculture Hangar was dedicated at a ceremony held on Tuesday, October 31.
“Clark State has one of the most extensive and long-standing agriculture offerings found at any community college in Ohio,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “Clark State has developed the region’s only for-credit degree program in precision agriculture — one that provides students not only with classroom-based learning but with hands-on technical training at the Airpark Ohio UAS test range, located at the Springfield Municipal Airport.”
Blondin said the state-of-the-art lab and partnerships with local farmers and businesses provide real data in real time for actual results; this equates to real-world experiences that bring precision agriculture to life.
The City of Springfield received state capital dollars for the project (HB 479) which were appropriated through the Board of Regents. In order to access the funds, the City entered into a Joint Use Agreement (JUA) with Clark State.
“The JUA requires that the City show benefit to the educational entity - and this is where we tied into Clark State's emerging Precision Agriculture program,” said Tom Franzen, assistant city manager and director of economic development for the City of Springfield.
The hangar at the airport will be utilized for a variety of projects all related to the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The hangar will also be outfitted with a small, state-of-the-art computer lab.
“First and foremost, the hangar will be used by faculty and students as a staging area for flight pre-planning and post-processing of imagery taken in our Certificate of Authorization (COA),” said Blondin. “Precision agriculture is a very time critical process, farmers need to get access to the data quickly, and this will show students in real time how the data processing can be done quickly to get them acclimated to the real world time issues that farmers face.”
The hangar space will also be utilized for non-credit training focusing on training students to pass their FAA Part 107 license successfully, general review FAA regulations and airspace requirements. Training on UAS applications in precision agriculture, law enforcement, inspections and search and rescue operations will also occur in the space.
“The City is excited to officially open the new hangar complex at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport and to share in the dedication of Clark State's new Ohio Center of Precision Agriculture Hangar,” said Franzen. “The City of Springfield recognizes the tremendous economic potential of unmanned aerial systems and their utilization in precision agriculture, and we look forward to building on our partnership in the development of Clark State’s Precision Agriculture program.”