Jaron Cummings first became curious about drones when he was in elementary school. In fifth grade, he was given his first toy drone, and his interest only flourished from there. These days, the Essex High School junior owns a professional drone he uses for taking photos and videos.
Last summer, Cummings enrolled in the Natural Resources: Drones for Environmental Mapping as part of UVM’s Summer Academy Program for high school students.
What the UVM Summer Academy Drone Training Offers
The course, offered on-campus and online, covers five main topics: safety, flight operations, data processing, analytics, and dissemination. The goal is to give students an in-depth understanding of drone technology and how it can be applied for environmental assessment. The course is technical in nature but is designed to be accessible to anyone who is interested in drones and the environment.
In the course, students are exposed to a variety of technologies, including drone platforms, drone sensors, flight planning software, image processing software, desktop Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and web mapping. Students work closely with members of the UVM Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) team, one of the most experienced drone groups in the United States.
The course is part of UVM’s Summer Academy, a four-week residential and online program offered to high school juniors and seniors who want to explore areas of study and earn transferable college credit.
Cummings, who is interested in a career in civil engineering, found the drone course helpful. For him, memorable experiences in the course included flying drones over the UVM Redstone campus and the McNeil Wood & Yard Waste Depot in Burlington to map and analyze data.
“I liked learning how to perfect a drone flight, and then how to use the information to make accurate maps and models to survey and analyze,” he says. “I liked making new friends and learning about what I want to do in the future.”
Natural Resources: Drones for Environmental Mapping will be July 8-18, 2019 on campus and July 20-August 2, 2019 online.