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MiLEAP Helps Adam Reach New Heights, After Covid Grounded His Plans

After missing out on a drone course he had previously enrolled in, due to COVID shut downs, Adam was able to re-enroll in the drone course at Alpena Community College thanks to MiLEAP tuition assistance. He was able to complete the course and pass his Part 107 FAA exam, receive his Temporary Airman Certificate to fly Small Unmanned Aircraft, and is able to utilize drones in his work as a construction and building inspector. Here is his story…

My name is Adam K. I want to say that MiLEAP helped me out tremendously - like no other. To understand what made me go through MiLEAP and the Drone Exam Prep Class, I'll have to go back a few years…

I was once a student at Alpena Community College from 2018-2020 and enrolled in the Concrete Tech Program. I had to face many challenges during my time there, and it was hard being the “old man” out of the class. The other students were fresh out of high school, while I had graduated back in 2003. I had to relearn old material like math and science from 15 years ago, and I was also recovering from a near death experience (an undiagnosed autoimmune disease nearly took my life in December 2016, causing kidney and lung failure – luckily U of M Hospital helped me pull through).

After pulling through that rough part, things were still rough going after that. I had to relearn everything from the ground up. I was practically a newborn infant – relearning how to sit up, to hold things in order to feed myself, to move my legs so I could crawl, stand, and walk again. After a month in the hospital to regain my health to where they could discharge me, I then had to go into Physical and Occupational Therapy.

After a couple of months of therapy, I got myself working again part-time back at the local tv station in Alpena and part-time at the local transportation authority. After about a year of trying to figure out what to do in my life, I went back to school and decided to go through the Concrete Tech Program. One of the classes in the program schedule was the Drone Course. I thought it sounded interesting and I figured it would be a good thing to have in case I worked somewhere that used drones in their operations. I signed up for all three classes for the last semester of my second year at ACC. After completing the Exam Prep Course, I was fully prepared to take the Part 107 Pilot Exam at one of the nearest facilities in the state of Michigan. But then Covid hit and everything closed down, and no one wanted to take any risks of being exposed. Classes went from being in class to being online or video sessions, and everything that had to be learned was supposed to be hands-on. Nearly everyone dropped out of the Drone Classes, including me, because I learn better in-person and hands-on. After dropping those classes and completing the rest of my Concrete Classes, I graduated without completing all the Drone Classes and never took my Part 107 Pilot Exam because of my low immunity towards Covid.

After college, I was hired by a company to work as an Inspector in the Construction Field down in Flint. A couple years went by and hearing that my girlfriend was going to be staying in Alpena, I decided to look for work closer to her. I heard about a company, RS Scott Associates, Inc., that does similar work to what I was doing in Flint, s I had to take a chance and submit my resume. It didn't take long, and I was given an offer, which I took. I moved back to Alpena and noticed that things were getting better at the college, with classrooms back open to students. Once things slowed down at work, I decided to go back and see if maybe the Drone classes were still available. If they were, I thought I would finish what I started when I was there. Sure enough, the Drone Classes were still ongoing and open for anyone to take.

After the 2022 construction season slowed down, I talked things over with my boss and a fellow coworker in the office about going back to college and trying to get my Part 107 Pilot License to fly drones. I was told that the company had connections with the college and that we use their facility to do some testing. After communicating with ACC, I was directed towards a new program, MiLEAP, which could help me get my Part 107 Pilot License (just like the exam prep class that I had missed out on three years prior!). Excited for the opportunity to complete the course AND get tuition assistance, I applied for the MiLEAP program, which was able to help me save money thanks to their tuition assistance grants!

After signing up, and going through the Exam Prep Class. I relearned the majority of all the material that I learned three years ago and was ready to take the Part 107 Pilot Exam. Granted, there were some barriers that were challenging at first. Those barriers included the class material that was handed out. All of it was digital and no hard copies of anything. Material was passed out by an App online or Phone that I was unaware of, and it made it somewhat difficult to find things. Took some time to get used to that. I think if the material was handed out like it was in my previous Exam Prep Class, like the books we had to purchase for the Exam Prep Class back in 2019. Things could have been a lot smoother for me. Another thing that I think that could help things out would be to put in the brochure that you needed a phone that is compliant to use with the drones. One student had a hard time using their drone because it could not work with their phone.

After taking the class, and doing some hard studying. I signed up online with the FAA and found a facility that was somewhat nearby to where I lived. After taking the Part 107 Exam at the facility in Oscoda, Michigan. I passed with a score of 85% and after applying that information with the FAA. I received my Temporary Airman Certificate to be able to fly Small Unmanned Aircraft until I receive my Permanent Airman Certificate.

It may have taken some time to complete my goals, but it was worth it in the end. Hopefully somewhere down the road I will be able to sign up for the other two support courses at the college to further my knowledge on flying drones and what they can do. Until then, I will practice as much as possible to get used to the controls of a drone, and use it every now and then, while on the job at certain sites to help me accomplish tasks that I cannot complete without it. Plus, the company I work for is thinking of using drones in the near future to do inspection work on bridges and any other task that might come up.

Thank you so much for helping me finish the course that I could not during COVID. I am so glad that things have gotten better, and that MiLEAP was around to help me complete this unfinished task that I was trying to do years ago. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone that is interested in learning to fly drones for work or any other activities. Thank you again!


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