UAVs Class Becomes Workforce Development Opportunity

Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) conducted a course at the Cape Girardeau Career Technology Center regarding the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, during the third week of June. The course is part of the “Pathways for Teachers Institute” and was led by Andrew Chronister, Agriculture Technology Coordinator, Economic and Business Engagement Center, and Dr. Jim Peterson, “The Drone DOOD!”, Assistant Professor of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Department of Polytechnic Studies, both from SEMO.

The goal of the program is to provide information and training to high school teachers about UAVs and their many applications in the business world. This will enable the teachers to better guide their students toward careers in the UAV field. The course consisted of two days of classroom instruction and two days of site visits to observe practical applications of the UAV technology.

The class visited our facilities in Cape Girardeau on Thursday of that week. The tour began in the meeting room at our SEMO Quarry, where the group received site-specific safety training, an overview of our quarry operations, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Aggregates Area Manager Mike Martin and Quarry Manager Terry Everly guided the tour to maximize exposure to our operations while minimizing interference to the operation and risk to the group. The tour stops included the “overlook area,” the floor of the quarry, the secondary plant, and the stockpile area.

The students then met with Plant Manager Amos Taylor and grounds man Chris Lombeida at our Cape Girardeau HMA Plant. Amos provided a description of the manufacturing process and all the necessary controls. Chris shared his story of how he came to work at Delta and his views of the training he had received in his approximately two months of employment.

Tony Shafer, Shop Manager, walked the group around the Missouri Shop Building. He made sure the students saw the wash bay, water recycling system, tool boards, supplies dispensing machines, and the Colas 6S GOLD Level Shop certification hanging on the wall.

Shannon Sinn, Quality Control Manager for Missouri, and Laurel McClelland, Chemist and Quality Control Technician for Heartland Asphalt Materials, gave a brief overview of the various test procedures performed in our lab.

The tour ended right back where it started – at our SEMO Quarry. Quarry Manager Terry Everly and Mining Engineer Drew Hoover gave a brief presentation on our use of drone technology in stockpile/inventory management and mine planning. Drew also showed the 3-D capabilities of this technology. We utilize the system and drones developed by Kespry, based in Menlo Park, California (

The students, who are actually high school teachers and instructors, asked various questions of the numerous presenters throughout the tour. However, a common theme was what skills are necessary in future employees. The list from each of our tour guides was very similar – clean drug screen, clean motor vehicle record (MVR), willingness to listen and learn, and show up every day on time ready to work. We can teach the technical skills, but we can’t teach a strong work ethic.

Twelve teachers participated in the program, representing Meadow Heights, Arcadia Valley Career and Technology Center, Jackson R-2, Perryville Career and Technology Center, New Madrid County Central, Saxony Lutheran High School, Oran High School, Advance High School, and Bell City High School.

If you are interested in learning more about this program or others, please contact Andrew Chronister, Agriculture Technology Coordinator, Economic and Business Engagement Center, at or (573) 651-2929, and Dr. Jim Peterson, Assistant Professor of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Department of Polytechnic Studies, at or (573) 651-2659.

It was our pleasure to host such an enthusiastic and inquisitive group of people providing training and guidance to this area’s future leaders.