UW-Madison students recently got some hands-on experience with flying drones on campus as part of a new summer class.

Of the 10 students in “Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” only one had ever flown a drone before yesterday morning. Each had the chance to test out the sleek white drones at UW-Madison’s new recreational center, sending the buzzing machines on stable flight paths high above the turf field.

The flights marked the accomplishment of getting certified to operate drones for commercial purposes, ending the first half of the course. The students’ midterm exam last week took the form of a Federal Aviation Administration-sanctioned test.

Yesterday’s exhibition was only possible because of a recent rule change by UW-Madison, allowing drones on campus for certain purposes. Student organizations as well as individual students, faculty, staff, contractors and other university affiliates can all apply to be approved for drone flights.

Since the end of May, students in the introductory course had been getting the basics of how to use the technology safely, minimizing risks to themselves and others and learning about complex flight regulations. Read the full story here.