Teaching Students the Tool of the Future – A Practical Project-Based UAS Curriculum
Presented by: University of Massachusetts Amherst, UMass Air
Strand: K-12 Education, Higher Education
There has been a very dramatic increase in recent years in the ubiquity and application of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) in a broad variety of fields and disciplines. UASs are set to become a staple tool for measurement, surveying, monitoring, and media development. Thus it is important that we develop effective methods for providing UAS instruction.
In Fall 2016 the University of Massachusetts Amherst began offering courses on UAS operations. Our most recent course offered in the Spring 2017 semester was a project-based UAS course that focused on:
1) Developing piloting proficiency through hands-on flight practice.
2) Understanding and practicing UAS project workflow, including flight planning, flight execution, and post-flight image processing to meet specific objectives. In particular, we focus on how to operate safely and legally in US airspace, as well as understanding the technical constraints and inner-workings of drones.
3) Photogrammertry and image analysis.
In order to meet these educational objectives, our curriculum balanced 3 modes of learning: traditional lectures and classroom discussions, hands-on flight practice with flight trainers, and a final project in which students partnered with a researcher to address specific research questions with UASs.
We will be presenting our course structure and lessons, conducting demo quadcopter flight exercises, and discussing the successes of the course, as well as our plans for improvements. Our effort to train students is all part of a much larger "UMass Air" initiative to support UAS applications in research on campus.