Source: Valley News Live

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — Northland Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minn., broke ground for a new $6 million building today. They hope it will help them fill the need for employees for an exploding industry.

The school is building a new aerospace building to help train drone, maintenance technicians.

Army Veteran, Mark Waters saw drones at work in Afghanistan and decided that learning how to fix them would be a good career. So, he’s now doing just that at Northland Technical College.

Mark Waters: “I felt this was the best fit because of its reputation and I grew up in Minnesota. So, I wanted to keep it local as well.”

Johnathan Beck, instructor: “For some of the larger companies supporting Department of Defense operations pay can be anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 starting on some of those larger platforms.”

Northland Technical College is already putting the pieces together to provide maintenance technicians for Grand Forks companies, who are doing drone research and development.

Northland is also making sure its graduates have a handle on the ever-increasing use of drones in agriculture.

Jim Retka, Northland: “We are currently working with a large tractor manufacturer in Fargo and some of their Minnesota dealers on a precision ag technician program.” 

Today, the school broke ground on a new building to help fill what’s expected to be an exploding demand for drone technicians.

They’ve already put together a partnership with Titan Machinery in Fargo.

Anne Temte, President of Northland Technical College: “Precision Agriculture Equipment Technology, that program is going to be a new program for the Thief River Falls campus. It will bring us into the modern age of agriculture and it will be followed by other ag programming that will really expand our reach."

This fall, students will be able to get their degree in drone maintenance within one year at Northland.