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  • Jared Delk, Clemson University

Clemson "Drones 4 Good" Program Educates Students On Drone Uses and Applications

As different industries progress further into the technologies currently becoming available there is one area of potential that is rapidly being tapped into by a variety of industries in drone applications. With drones becoming cheaper and more available, it is becoming more and more necessary to know how to pilot and use this technology. Unfortunately, many of those wanting to own and pilot drones for both personal and professional use do not know both the significant legal restrictions surrounding drones and the vast range of applications for drone technologies. This is why colleges and universities need to push for education of drone technologies and their use. Since the knowledge of drone technologies is becoming more and more ubiquitous in daily life, these centers of academics need to be proactive in preparing their students for the world they are about to enter instead of waiting until they are behind the curve and reacting to the knowledge that students coming out of their school are lacking in a skill that is necessary to succeed.

From, 2016

This idea of being proactive and preparing students to be ahead of the curve has driven the Center of Geospatial Technologies at Clemson University to propose the idea of a program called “Drones 4 Good”. Drones 4 Good is intended to take students with any or no extent of operational drone knowledge and transform them into fully educated and operational drone pilots who can also perform the processing necessary with data collection. This would require students to take a primary education course on drone legislature and how to safely operate drones within the legal requirements. Many students do not realize the evolving legal situation as drone use begins to become more available for civilian use. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires the registration of all Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, have certain restrictions for flight such as staying underneath an elevation of 400 ft, keeping within the pilot line of sight, or ensuring that the aircraft is under 55 lbs. Registration of drones and licensure of the pilots would be included in the program. If students did not own a drone or have a drone that cannot collect the necessary data, the university would also have pre-registered drones that would be available for temporary use.

From, 2014

Once the students in the program are educated and licensed, they would then be introduced to the wide range of applications within various fields and could be contacted with professionals in their area of study in order to fully understand the applications and uses of drones in their industry. They would also be taught how to use certain widely available processing tools in order to be able to be independent in their research. These processing tools would include open source tools such as OpenDroneMap, which takes aerial drone photos and creates point clouds and DTMs, or OpenAerialMap, which is an international repository for geospatially connected aerial drone photography, or more exclusive processing tools that are available to Clemson students such as the tools included in ArcGIS and the ESRI suite or the Structure from Motion (SfM) software Agisoft PhotoScan. Overall, all students at the university would have the chance to leave with a complete and independent understanding of drones, their uses and applications, and the processing tools and techniques to be beneficial to their field of industry.

From, 2018 and, 2018

Jared Delk is a junior undergraduate civil engineering student at Clemson University. He is currently serving as the Executive Director of the university’s YouthMappers chapter called Clemson Mappers. He also is the Program Director for a student service organization primarily serving the population of the Caribbean island nation of Dominica called ENGAGE Dominica. He is very inspired by the use GIS technologies in a variety of fields and hopes to continue learning and educating others about the applications of GIS in all areas of study.

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