Coastal Drone Academy is a Science, Technical, Engineering, and Math (STEM) extension program within Career Technical Charter High School in Lincoln City. Community Services Consortium (CSC) is the parent organization of Career Tech High School – that is, they hold the charter granted by the Lincoln County School District. CSC is a community action agency and has as its mission; “In partnership with a caring community, we help people in Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties to access tools and resources to overcome poverty and build brighter and more stable futures.”
Coastal Drone Academy students map coastal towns, forests, wetlands, bays, and beaches. They census megafauna such as salmon and whales. In Spring 2018 we boarded the OSU R/V Pacific Storm on station five miles off Newport, deploying a drone to help Dr. Leigh Torres at Oregon State monitor grey whale migration as part of the OSU/Sea Grant Grey Whale Migration Mission (click here for our story).
Our curriculum is a blend of aviation and coastal resources management and has two texts.
The aviation text, written by Embry-Riddle aviation faculty, uses curriculum that is FAA approved and provides students with over a dozen college credits. The second text is “Coastal Resources Management Guidelines” that was written for the National Park Service. I use these to teach three (blended aviation and marine studies) courses which are:
- MSURPA 101: Introduction to Marine Studies using RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft)
- MSURPA 102: Marine Studies using RPA Operations (see details)
- MSURPA 103: Marine Studies RPA using Missions (see details)
These courses are part of the State of Oregon’s Career and Technical Education program, and they are designed to work through experiential, hands-on learning, and collaboration with local marine scientists. My pilots fly missions where they develop knowledge of several key aspects of coastal resource management.
Here is an example of technical education using research projects as we learn salt marsh ecology, surveying, boating, fixed wing drone flying, and seagrass ecology (below) in the Spring of 2018 with our entire Operations and Missions classes having a role (pictured is the bay and the boat where we flew the ODFW Netarts Bay UAS 2018 Mission) to make maps of coastal vegetation there:
In our collaborator’s words, “This is a great opportunity for Career Tech students to pilot these types of UAS that should make them more competitive in the job market when they graduate. For ODFW, this provides a great opportunity for us to work with you and your students to explore the application and utility of fixed wing UAS relative to the quad-copters we currently use and provide your students with a real world application ofUAS technology for management of natural resources.” …Tony D. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.