On Wednesday, Casper College announced that they had received a donation of $132,000 from the Central Wyoming Section of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME) that they'll use to buy several drones.

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Jeff Sun, a geographic information systems instructor, said that while the department currently has some drones, they are six years old and don't have more up-to-date technology on them.

Sun said the new drones have better cameras that can provide clearer images and has 3D mapping capabilities.

"The camera is better now, so we can get better pictures, clearer pictures," Sun said. "One of the drones we're going to buy is a pretty large drone that carries a lidar camera, and what lidar allows us to do is map the world in 3D, three dimensions...It can pick out certain kinds of vegetation without having to go out and do a study. We can get that data, fly it in like five minutes, then we can go back to the computer lab and get, what vegetation is out there, how high off the ground is it, what are we going to affecting here."

The lidar camera, which stands for light detection and ranging, costs $30,000 on its own, while the four smaller drones their buying cost $1,600 each, and the larger drone that the lidar camera fits onto will cost several thousand dollars.

Sun said that they'll order the equipment within the next month and expect them to arrive at some point within the next few months.

According to a press release by Casper College, the money will also be used to fund a part-time position at the Tate Geological Museum, fund student workers, and purchase drilling supplies to help map an impact crater field near Douglas.

Lisa Icenogle, editor and news coordinator for Casper College, said that the SME has provided scholarships to students at the college in the past.

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