Drone Donation Brings High-tech Inspection Method to Ridgewater NDT Students


HUTCHINSON and WILLMAR, MN – Thanks to a drone donation from Marathon Petroleum, second-year students in the Nondestructive Testing program at Ridgewater College will learn another inspection method that is gaining momentum in the industry (see photo below).

“Contract companies are using a lot more technology for inspection work in the field,” said Paul Kyser, Ridgewater NDT alumni and member of Marathon’s St. Paul Park Refinery team making the donation. “You’re constantly learning ways to use it.”

“Students need to learn about new technology and the advances they play in inspection,” explained Keith Ben, Marathon inspection supervisor and Ridgewater alumni. “Drones are being used more and more in the inspection industries – anywhere from inspecting tall stacks to pipeline right-of-ways to inspection of electrical lines using infrared technology. The Marathon donation will give the students a chance to explore the opportunities drones bring to the industry.”

Wade Padrnos, Ridgewater NDT instructor, said he is extremely appreciative for the industry partnership and donation of the DJIS-1000/Zenmuse drone. “By mounting a high-resolution camera on this drone, it is used for multiple industrial Remote Visual Inspections (RVI) of above-ground storage tanks, smoke stacks and piping systems applications,” Padrnos explained. “Using the drone will reduce the cost of setting up scaffolding and the time required to access industrial components located high above ground level. This drone will allow our students to be better prepared for industrial applications that utilize these high-technology NDT inspection techniques.”

Over the years, Marathon’s St. Paul Park Refinery has supported student scholarships and last year gave the college a $40,000 equipment grant.

For more information about the Nondestructive Testing program, go to www.ridgewater.edu/ndt.

Excited about the new $9,000 high-tech drone that Ridgewater students will experience are, from left, Marathon employees Jason Humphries, Keith Ben, Joe Rath, Paul Kyser, Ridgewater NDT instructor Wade Padrnos, alumni Ben Hergert, and Ridgewater instructor Walt Asmus.


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