Coastal resource management using drones

This is the “capstone” of our course offerings.


Our training and certification program uses a curriculum accepted by the FAA, endorsed by major aviation insurance providers, and evaluated and recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education. Our program is built on three years of ground and flight school using Unmanned Safety Institute curriculum with its aviation emphasis.

Then through experiential, hands-on learning, and collaboration with local marine scientists, our pilots fly missions where they develop knowledge of the several key aspects of coastal resource management, including using drones to for:

  • Monitoring protected and endangered marine species and their habitats
  • Supporting assessments of fisheries stocks and habitat assessments
  • Monitoring effects of climate change, coastal erosion and sea level rise
  • Monitoring sea grass and marsh health

This class follows a research-based education module that involves students working on longer-term projects directly with industry partners, building on their knowledge of drones and how they apply directly to their coastal habitat missions. Through research-based learning students can develop the intellectual skills of critical analysis and also valuable transferable skills such as group work, time- and resource-management and data handling.

At this point our pilots have an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate (drone license), are working on a USI Pro rating on at least one flight platform, and have a strong logbook reflecting PIC (pilot in command) time on our most advanced sUAS technologies. Many of our students have now mastered our most advanced equipment and software, and realize a commercial drone pilot is required to manage data and software, that the client often needs their data managed (you are never just a pilot).

Author: Dr. Chuck Getter

Nationally certified drone coach and instructor. Co-developed NOAA's ESI coastal mapping method. 25,000 miles mapped so far.

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