The future can fly with drones, Lamar native says

Christopher Williams of STEM U LLC visited the Oct. 8 Lamar Town Council meeting

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Lamar Town Council’s Oct. 8 regular meeting featured a guest speaker who believes the sky is the limit for Darlington County high school students.

Lamar native Christopher Williams now operates a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education business in Columbia, and he’s working to establish free programs to teach local students how to capitalize on the growing field of drone piloting.

“In 2020, they are predicting 70,000 jobs in this career field,” said Williams. He explained that growth will occur in a variety of sectors, such as drone package delivery, land surveying and law enforcement.

Williams said that in 2015, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) cleared a path for students 16 and up to acquire a commercial drone pilot license. His company, STEM U, LLC, of Columbia, helps high school students learn the basics of aeronautics and build piloting skills so they can take – and pass – the FAA commercial drone licensing test.

“These young people would actually have a certified license to do commercial piloting anywhere in the United States,” said Williams, noting that the pilot license could open up many new employment opportunities for students.

He described drone piloting as a “stackable” skill that, when paired with a degree from a two- or four-year college, can help a student become a highly employable worker. Williams said that local students who earn their drone piloting license will be given the chance to intern with his company, getting practical work experience in the field and in the office.

Williams said that he has spoken with Robbie Smith, director of Darlington County Technical Institute, and he also plans to speak with the principal of Lamar High School to investigate whether drone piloting education could fit into their future curriculums.

To learn more about Williams and his company, visit them online at stemullc.com.

Also at this meeting, Mayor Darnell McPherson introduced Craig LaCross as the new town magistrate. LaCross said that he will not only handle the regular court duties of town magistrate, but will be available to issue time-sensitive warrants when emergency law enforcement situations occur.

Council also officially recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and heard a brief presentation from Pamela Prince of the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Prince said South Carolina currently ranks No. 6 nationally when it comes to violence perpetrated against women by men. She noted that in the past year the Coalition’s Darlington County office served 71 victims of domestic violence, providing them with emergency shelter, victim’s advocate representation, counseling and employment assistance, among many other services. To learn more about the coalition, visit them online at peedeecoalition.org.

Author: Rachel Howell

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