Over the summer the 2020 drone camp from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) saw tremendous interest. The intensive short course is offered through the UC ANR Statewide Program in Informatics and GIS (IGIS). COVID restrictions forced the event to move to a virtual format, but the program was able to maintain much of the core curriculum.
“The goal of this drone camp is to give people an introduction to the whole workflow of using drones,” said Andy Lyons, Program Coordinator for IGIS. “The whole workflow includes regulations and safety – being aware of those – planning flights, and we talk a lot about equipment. There’s a lot of options around equipment.”
Although in-person flying tutorials were unable to be offered, the program still featured important information about drone operation. Lyons noted that while flying the drone is the fun part, the real value of drones come from data processing and analysis. “It is the important part because that’s what converts the data into actionable information,” Lyons explained.
The online version of the drone camp in 2020 allowed for increased participation. Approximately 65 people attended the course in 2019, while more than 330 participated in the 2020 online event. The expanded attendance included increased interest from out-of-state and international participants. COVID restrictions also provided organizers with time to build out the teaching materials even further.
“Because we weren’t in the field as much, we used that time to develop our workshop materials, to develop some workflows both for our own use as well as to teach people on just how to wrangle all of this data,” Lyons noted. “We put the time into refining how we do work with drones as well as making our workshop materials a little bit more developed and adding some more workshops to our curriculum.”
The workshops and course materials from the 2020 drone camp are available online. Preparations are currently underway for the next online drone camp, tentatively scheduled for some time in July. Lyons said they “got the band back together and everyone is really excited about doing something like this again.”
Listen to the interview below.