Time spent playing video games pays off for student
Sinclair Community College student Trace Curry credits his video game playing as a factor in his success in the college's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program.
April 23rd, 2012
06:28 AM ET

Time spent playing video games pays off for student

by Katherine Dorsett Bennett, CNN

(CNN) Complaints by some parents to their school-aged children that video games "aren't good for you" may not necessarily be true.

Apparently, a "PlayStation" mentality can pay off for students interested in aviation and could lead to a future career in that industry.

The strong hand-eye coordination skills and familiarity with a visual readout (from playing video games) can particularly create an advantage for aviation students interested in the field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), said Dr. Steve Johnson, President of Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. "I think there are a lot of things that go into being successful as a student in any program and this is no different," he said.

UAS is an aircraft (also commonly known as a drone or unmanned aerial vehicle) that doesn't carry a crew and is remotely piloted. There are a wide variety of these flying machines. A major benefit of this aircraft is that in theory it can perform many dangerous tasks as a manned aircraft without risking the lives of a pilot and crew.  Most UAS programs have been historically designed for the military, but commercial industries are now developing new types of UAS applications and need to hire people trained in this field, according to Adam Murka, the director of public information at Sinclair.

Twenty-three-year-old Trace Curry, a student at Sinclair, is enrolled in the UAS program and credits his passion for aviation and his video game playing background for part of his success in the school's coursework. He's among a handful of students at Sinclair seeking a short-term certificate in this field. "The classroom simulator came naturally to me after playing so many video games," he said. Curry is armed with a strong computer background, too.

Curry said he pursued the UAS program, in addition to his other aviation coursework, because he wants the skills to position himself for an entry-level technical position in the UAS industry. "I'm excited to be a part of a cutting edge program and learning skills in an industry where the sky is literally the limit," he said.

The program at Sinclair features mission planning, data management and other fields of UAS study. Curry is also interested in becoming a pilot one day.

Other colleges, including Northwestern Michigan College, University of North Dakota and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University are among schools in the U.S. offering courses in Unmanned Aircraft Systems, too.

"We see a strong job market in the future for these UAS graduates," said Dr. Johnson.

According to a press release from Sinclair, the overall UAS industry expects to grow by $31 billion over the next ten years, including $2 billion in commercial growth. Dr. Johnson said he's seen projections for salaries ranging from $30,000 a year to well over $100,000 depending on the job and the skill set of the employee.

"Our company has aggressively invested in the UAS market and strongly believes in the potential benefit that unmanned vehicles can bring to defense, commercial and first responder activities," noted Dennis Andersh, senior vice president and Dayton regional executive at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

While it’s easy to focus on the most visible component of these systems – the airborne platforms – the actual systems encompass everything from the sensors collecting information to the wireless datalinks down linking the information, to the software, systems and people analyzing and distributing the information, noted Andersh. Job skills in these various specialties will serve any UAS student well.

The potential commercial uses for Unmanned Aircraft Systems include obtaining imagery to farmers in the agricultural field, patrolling remote power lines and pipelines, wildlife and environmental research and even the possibility of flying human organs from one place to another. The military has been invested in UAS technology for years in a variety of capacities.

"I think it’s important to keep in mind that this is a developing industry and will need a bit more time for the market to be fully fleshed out," noted Dr. Johnson. "This industry is going to go places we’ve not yet imagined."

Sinclair said one of the biggest uncertainties in non-military UAS usage concerns the use of airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs the skies and strictly regulates the type of aircraft that can fly in public areas.

According to CNN affiliate KSDK, this sticking point became a major issue in Hawaii recently, after officials there discovered the FAA wouldn't let them fly a UAS the state purchased for patrolling theHonoluluHarbor. State officials never checked with the FAA to learn that space was restricted and closed to UAS aircraft.

The FAA is currently formulating new regulations to open up more airspace for UAS-class aircraft – and once the new regulations are set – it will change the dynamics of this evolving industry.

"I definitely feel like I'm getting into this fast-changing industry at the right time," said Curry. "I'm really excited about my future."

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soundoff (28 Responses)
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    April 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
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    April 26, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  3. Paula

    Lies. Neg roes don't have enough money for games.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  4. NudeTruth

    so which building is this terrorist planning to crash into?

    April 23, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  5. Casey

    I like how CNN is reporting this like it's new news. The video game industry has been using this justification for years. And along with learn problem solving and practicing read, it's why I let my kids play certain games in moderation.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  6. soundbarrier101

    video games are good for you?

    April 23, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  7. Noevil

    Play Play Play Sheepp be all eyes and ears closed to the reality that the US goverment as been taken over by a bunch of criminals, in the meantime some of you all consumed by call of duty and flight simulation may be of some use in the future Drone airforce spreding death in homeland and abroad

    April 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Patriarchae

      Oh, you must be some real great revolutionary fighter huh? Some real V For Vendetta stuff, eh?

      Give it up. You're some dude sitting on your @$s whining on CNN. Everyone deserves recreation time, and video games make for great recreation.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  8. dowhatifeellike

    At least the vidja games make you think. I'd rather solve a puzzle or figure out how to kill a boss or manage a soccer team than sit on the couch and stare blankly at the screen.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  9. 2hot4U

    Shillelagh! Shillelagh!

    April 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  10. HOGGER


    April 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Stormwind guard

      Back to the stockades...

      April 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  11. Fuyuko

    everything in moderation. I do think young kids should play less and some online roleplaying games are addictive. I have a co-worker and sister who play them too much... So, I'm not sure the dubious benefits outweigh the cons of obesity, inactivity and negligence of outside of game relationships.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

    Yeah, Then they can kill Americans during the supposed civil/revolution/war and not feel guilty, you know with them protecting the Country and all from all those Homegrown terrorists and any of those folks that disagree with the authoritarian police state, the repeal of those amendments that help secure our freedoms, and the whole social servitude for rations thing. Conspiracies happen all the time. That’s why people believe in them. I can name 20 known instances right off the top of my head throughout history. And no I don't trust others to protect any freedoms that I currently enjoy other than those who also have them to lose. And apparently our elected body is missing a couple crucial points when it comes to the bill of rights as they seek to set themselves beyond the punishment of the law. NEWS FLASH. Reality almost never mimics fantasy and when you get into complicated designs it becomes even more so. Go ahead a fix it, cause your fixes seem to leave it more and more broken. The question is why are you breaking it under a false guise in the first place. We aren't as insecure as your trying to make it and we don't need to sac our freedom for so called security. Thats all BS.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • skpfrmdc

      You should see a Dr. about that. Any rational person reading your response sees "nut". if you need more than a sentence to respond to this article you are in need of professional help. Don't wait to long it appears to be worsening by the minute.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
      • Jim McTeigue

        You just used three sentences...

        April 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
      • Jim McTeigue

        You just used four sentences...

        April 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • what?

      you are absolutely insane.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  13. 2ktech

    What I love is how Parents say playing games for so many hours is bad for you, yet they are the same peopel who sit down and watch 3 hours of prime time tv every night. Or spend 3 hours watching a movie LOL, people are so hypocritical these days

    April 23, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • t3chsupport

      I always found that baffling as well. At least when you're playing video games, your mind is engaged in some problem solving or reflex exercises. Television does nothing good for you.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Casey

      What movies are you watching that are 3 hours? The average movie is 90 minutes.

      April 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm |