Carisa Chavez
Program Supervisor


MiraCosta College Technology Career Institute Selected for FAA Training Program

[Carlsbad, CA] – Today MiraCosta College announces the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected its Unmanned Systems 500 hour Program  for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems-Collegiate Training Program or the UAS-CTI.

“MiraCosta College Technology Career Institute (TCI) has been working hard over the past two years to create a world class, accelerated training program that prepares individuals quickly to enter careers or start their own businesses using the newest unmanned systems technology.  We are thrilled to be part of a national initiative that recognizes and supports exceptional programs, like ours, across the country”, says Linda Kurokawa, Executive Director of MiraCosta’s Community Education and Workforce Development department that oversees the Technology Career Institute. “Having been recognized by the FAA for our UAS program will ensure that we connect and learn from other institutions around the nation, allowing us to keep current and continue to adapt for a rapidly changing industry.”

The FAA’s UAS-CTI program recognizes institutions that prepare students for careers in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones. In order to qualify for the initiative, schools must offer a bachelor’s or associates degree in UAS or a degree with a minor, concentration, or certificate in UAS. Schools must provide curriculum covering various aspects of UAS training, including hands-on flight practice, maintenance, uses, applications, privacy concerns, safety, and federal policies concerning UAS.

Desi Ekstein is the UAS instructor for TCI MiraCosta College.  Her curriculum is focused on UAS safety, utilizing education and training methods that align with the AUVSI TOP Operator program.  She is a level II instructor and a level III pilot. The program provides knowledge of the FAA rules and regulations, and flight protocols that are accountable and measurable.  She is also the FAASTeam UAS lead representative and DronePro for San Diego. 

  Desi Ekstein MiraCosta College’s UAS Instructor

In response to a need for fast paced, manufacturing and engineering skills training, MiraCosta Community College took an innovative approach to focused skills development by creating the Technology Career Institute (TCI) in Carlsbad, CA.  In 2015 MiraCosta College’s new Technology Career Institute partnered with the City of Carlsbad to open a grant funded, accelerated workforce training center. This marked a significant milestone in talent development for all of the San Diego region, with the institute offering a large variety of robust certificate programs that train students in the technical skills needed for growing industries such as advanced manufacturing and engineering, maritime technology, Unmanned Systems operation and technology, biotech equipment manufacturing, and even craft brewing.

TCI is operated by the self-funded “extended studies” arm of the college and is thus free of the academic constraints often placed on typical credit programs. To make sure the training programs are affordable to all, the center sought and was awarded two multi-million dollar Department of Labor grants enabling TCI to offer programs that are tuition free using state-of-the-art equipment for a hands-on experience. The success of the program is exhibited in its more than 90% completion and employment rates.

Press release and images submitted by Desi Ekstein