Drones are beginning to change business everywhere. Drones are often referred to as small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). These sUAS flight systems are defined by a gross weight of 55 pounds or less. Even in those small packages, they are packed with a rapidly growing assortment of advanced technology that gives them some amazing capabilities. Grand View Research states that the commercial drone market will be worth $129.2 billion by 2025.
Starting With Education
Some educators have begun to note that their past focus on traditional skills is not meeting the new needs of 21st-century America. They can address these needs by building out vocational training programs that span from high school to post-secondary studies and eventually the workplace. This will help employees have the foundational knowledge and skills needed to adopt to a constantly changing workplace.
This is where STEM drone training programs come in. In my opinion, these are a great example of a program with wide-reaching applications, including roles in construction, surveying, agriculture, inspection, insurance, real estate, media, marketing, public safety, security, scientific research, healthcare and entertainment, just to name a few. Students can apply this knowledge to multiple job-related disciples. This serves as a gateway for providing meaningful credentials that can lead to emerging workforce opportunities.ADVERTISING
Drone/sUAS flight systems have rapidly become one of the best tools for data collection. Drone capabilities have advanced way beyond simply taking photos or videos. Many employers are seeking workers with new drone skills and data analytics knowledge. Analyzing drone data and using photogrammetry is becoming a key tool for orthomosaic mapping, volumetrics and more.MORE FOR YOUEmployees Of Health Tech Company One Medical Announce Plan To UnionizeCDC Director Stresses Importance Of Getting Fully Vaccinated As Cases Of Covid Delta Variant RiseEmpowering The Future Hybrid Work Model, Lucid Closes On More Than $500 Million In Secondary Investment, Triples Valuation To $3 Billion
Drone technology also allows students to learn about autonomous flight programming. Recently, drone manufacturers are expanding sophisticated autonomous capabilities directly in their sUAS flight systems.
Advancements In The Industry
The FAA recently approved fully automated commercial drone flights by American Robotics Inc. of Massachusetts. Previously, the FAA has permitted some organizations to fly drones beyond visual line of sight, but this is the first approval that allows those flights without a pilot being nearby. Instead, they will monitor flights from an off-site location that can be 50 yards or 1000 miles away. Their Scout flight systems are housed in a weatherproof box and located in fairly pre-defined areas. Their primary objective is to regularly scan an area then highlight changes that have occurred when compared to prior flights. Some location and other flight restrictions will apply, but this is an important step forward for the drone industry.
These recent rule changes demonstrate the trend toward pilotless flights and notes the evolution of sUAS systems becoming increasingly less dependent on today’s version of a drone pilot. Because of this rapid change, more training and education is essential.
The Federal Aviation Administration also helping enable these career pathways and has launched the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS-CTI). As defined on the FAA.gov website, “Post-secondary institutions with UAS curriculums that want to be recognized as UAS-CTI participants now have the opportunity to apply for this distinction. The results of this collaborative working relationship will include a continuous dialogue with stakeholders to connect with colleges and universities with general industry, local governments, law enforcement, and regional economic development entities to address labor force needs.”
As cited by Rotor Drone Pro, “In addition, these new UAS-CTI Partners will support the FAA’s efforts to expand the aviation workforce of the future while providing additional opportunities for Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) students.”
More recently, we’re beginning to see cooperation between high schools with STEM drone programs and colleges. Northland Community and Technical College, for example, is partnering with the National Center for Autonomous Technologies and creating articulation agreements with seceondary schools. Together, these educational institutions will enlighten students and prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century.
Acquiring Skilled Employees
Those looking for drone-related jobs in the industry need to secure an FAA Part 107 remote pilot certificate. Most of all, these individuals need an understanding of autonomous flight, data collection and data analytics, all of which will help transform raw data into actionable intelligence. Look for new hires that possess these skills and develop training programs that focus on instilling these tools and knowledge.
I believe most companies will be using drones in the next five years. The rapidly changing skills needed to harness this technology will be in increasingly high demand for all employers. As such, educators need to be aware of this ever-changing landscape of technology and prepare students for it.