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10 Uses of Drones in Higher


Education
10 Uses of Drones in Higher Education from Vala Afshar
The commercial and private use of drones is soaring. The devices are capturing news video,
assisting farmers, filming movies, delivering packages, surveying real estate, recording
vacation travel logs, and providing disaster relief. Lux Research projects the market for
commercial drones will reach $1.7B by 2025. Each year, $6.4 billion is being spent
developing drone technology. As the Internet of Things continues to expand, drones of all
sizes are taking their place among IoT devices feeding back torrents of data for analysis.
Along with the drones come new jobs. In the US alone, 70,000 new drone-related jobs are
projected within the next three years; 100,000 new jobs are expected by 2025. In order to
provide a trained workforce capable of meeting this demand, schools are already jumping in
and offering drone programs and degrees.
Brian A. Rellinger, CIO Ohio Wesleyan University has been experimenting with drones on
campus to see firsthand how they can used to enhance teaching, learning, research, and
service to society. Some OWU students are already bringing drones on campus, further
extending the bring your own device concept. I spoke with Brian about all the ways drones
can be used for educational purposes. We compiled the list of Ten Uses of Drones in Higher
Education below, which is presented in the accompanying slideshare.
Enable student projects exploring thetechnology research, such as gathering data from
sacred forests in Ethiopia, mapping lava flows in Ecuador, and surveying the forest canopy
in Costa Rica.
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Loan drones to students for checkout and experimentation.


Drones are used to capture unique footage of sporting events.
Create promotional flybys of key campus buildings and features and virtual
holiday greeting videos.
Record footage of unique campus events, such as picnics or move-in weekend.
Take unique photographs from hard to reach places.
Facilitate inspections of buildings and monitor construction projects.
Enhance field projects, such as studying wildlife from a distance, and detailed3D
archaeological mapping
Monitor agricultural and environmental conditions
Teach a course on designing and building drones

10. Enable student projects exploring the intersection between art and technologyand
research, such as gathering data from sacred forests in Ethiopia, mapping lava flows
in Ecuador, and surveying the forest canopy in Costa Rica.

Drones are also finding their way into K-12 education. The Drones for Schoolsprogram is
one such K-12 activity. The Greenon High School in Springfield, Ohio, hasanother
program in which students use drone software and perform tasks like mapping out data
from a natural disaster and creating a safe evacuation plan.
The cost of drones for educational use ranges from $500 to $3,000 depending on the
features, battery life, camera quality, and accessories. They are small and easily
transportable, and can fit in a ruggedized hard case for travel. It is possible to utilizeopen
source software for real-time telemetry and to create 3D flight path files viewable with
Google Earth, expanding the possible research uses.
Like many new, leading edge technologies, drones come with some concerns. It is important
to plan appropriately to achieve a positive outcome. Privacy, policy and the negative
connotation of the word drone, are all issues to be considered. Many users of the devices for
commercial purposes prefer to call them by other names, including flybot, copter, UAV
(unmanned aerial vehicle), RPA (remotely piloted aircraft), UAS (unmanned aircraft
system), unmanned aircraft, or just robot. Understanding the concerns and setting clear
objectives are key to successfully using drones on your campus.
On the policy front, the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), a leading community-based
organization, has provided guidelines. The AMA, established in 1936, 22 years prior to the
founding of the FAA, is petitioning the FAA for a reasonable approach to addressing drone
usage. In the meantime, the FAA has issued an interpretation of theSpecial Rule for Model
Aircraft which may seriously impact the use of small drones by institutions and the general
public.
Dr. Coye Cheshire, associate dean and associate professor at University of California
Berkeley, who led a drone lab experiment in 2013 found that, "Our students emphasized the
fun, creative, social and playful side of autonomous flying devices. They developed ways to
navigate the devices by voice commands, to 'air dance' to music, and other creative
applications that become possible when you put a bunch of sensors on a quad-copter and
tinker with it."
Ohio Wesleyan University senior Andrew Wallace, who purchased his own drone, states, "I
think the possibilities are endless. From a marketing standpoint, drones offer a way to see
the entire campus in a different way. You can capture almost any outdoor event in a less
intrusive manner and in a way that people really get excited about."