A drone course at UVM propelled Griffin Bohan’s college dreams to new heights.
The Brooklyn Technical High School senior enrolled in the Drones for Environmental Mapping course last summer as part of UVM’s Summer Academy program. The experience not only opened his eyes to campus life but also allowed him to envision what the future holds at UVM.
The pre-college high school course explores drone technology and how it can be applied for environmental assessment. It’s 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.
“I’ve flown drones in New York with my friends before and I had a blast flying them at UVM,” Bohan says. “I learned how to do 3D mapping and did pretty well at it.”
Exploring Drone Technology in a Pre-College High School Course
Taught by Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne, director of the UVM Spatial Analysis Laboratory, the three-credit course covers safety, flight operations, data processing, analytics, and dissemination.
The course is technical but designed to be accessible to anyone interested in drones and environmental mapping. Students learn about drone platforms, drone sensors, flight planning software, image processing software, desktop Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and web mapping.
The Drones for Environmental Mapping course also allows students to work closely with members of the UVM Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Team, one of the most experienced drone groups in the United States.
In recent years, UAS/drones have provided new ways to map, monitor, and measure the changing landscape. UAS are relatively inexpensive, easy to operate, and can deploy rapidly. Advances in digital image processing allow one to go from flying a drone to working with accurate maps and 3D models in a matter of hours. These factors make UAS ideal for many applications in which speed, accuracy, resolution, cost, and timeliness.
In the end, a positive experience at Summer Academy was a key factor that put UVM at the top of Bohan’s college list.
“Before going to Summer Academy, I was already looking at UVM for college. I visited last winter when my family was in Vermont skiing, and I loved it. I still love it—it’s the perfect place,” he says. “I might pursue finance in college, and maybe minor in environmental science. I hope to combine them into something where I can use a business degree to help companies adopt more sustainable climate policies.”
Applications are being accepted now for UVM Summer Academy.