Faces of CNM: Mark Chappell
Mark Chappell takes a test flight outside of CNM's Advanced Technology Center.

Faces of CNM: Mark Chappell

Mark, who's majoring in Unmanned Aircraft Systems, is putting his skills to work for the N.M. Wing Civil Air Patrol’s search and rescue efforts.
September 17, 2019

At just 19-years-old, Mark Chappell is already going full throttle into his education and career. In addition to studying Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the University of New Mexico, Mark is currently enrolled in CNM’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) certificate program.

“When I took CNM's intro UAS class a year ago, I realized that these drones are an amazing piece of technology that can significantly help enhance performance within any industry,” he says.

Mark has applied his newly learned skillset in drone technology to his current role as Ground Team Leader at the New Mexico Wing Civil Air Patrol. He says that the use of drone technology has made search and rescue missions faster, easier and safer than traditional on-foot searching.

“I realized that I don’t have to send my team members up this 60-degree cliff with loose gravel, and potentially put them in danger,” Mark says. “Whereas, we can send a drone up with a dedicated drone member on our team and have them search the area of interest.”

Mark ChappellMark says that CNM’s UAS program has provided him with world-class instruction and a thorough education on the rules and regulatory procedures involved with flying drones.

“At CNM, every single class I’ve taken has been extremely professional. There’s no working in gray areas,” he says. “From archaeology to GIS to architecture, having instructors from such a broad range of industries that unify in one field is truly fascinating and amazing to see.”

Drone technology is a relatively new industry with endless applications, according to Mark. He says that drones are being used to help save lives in the medical industry, to shoot movie footage and to help survey and document geographic locations.

CNM Associate Dean Amy Ballard agrees that drone technology has one of the most diverse uses in the modern-day workforce.

"We started hearing from some of our industry partners that drones were becoming a really important tool in what they did,” Amy says. “That would include construction management, and surveying and mapping in particular."

Drone technology is being used extensively in a fast-growing number of fields. Last May, students in CNM’s UAS program traveled to Clayton Lake to help document, map and model one of the largest dinosaur tracksites in the U.S.

Mark says that no matter what the future has in store for him, he will definitely be using drone technology in some capacity.

“It’s been an amazing experience here at CNM. This industry will continue to grow as more and more people learn how to use drone technology,” Mark says.

Learn more about CNM’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems program.