Our courses

“The Coastal Drone Academy is a model example of how high schools across America can implement successful career and technical education programs with successful student outcomes, and USI is honored to be a part of their story.”  Aaron Greenwald, President of the Unmanned Safety Institute (USI).


We have four courses that blend aviation, science, and drones: This student (above) is happy to learn a technology that helps him map and understand the ecology of a 1000 acre seagrass bed. He is in our capstone course, Coastal Resource Management Using Drones.

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 four 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:

  • Resource management & land (incl. forest) classification
  • Wetland restoration monitoring
  • Monitoring seagrass beds and other estuarine resources

This is the capstone of four classes and it continues to follow a research-based education  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).


Published by

Dr. Chuck Getter

Teaching marine biology with drones

Leave a Reply