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Exploring the Future of FPV Flying and Augmented Reality With the Epson Moverio BT-300 Smart Glasses

This is a sponsored post. All opinions and unboxing / flight experience is reported as my own, with no input from the Moverio team. If you’re interested in ordering the Moverio BT-300 FPV Edition, you can do so at this link. Make sure to use the code UAVCOACH to get $100 off the order. You’ll also get free shipping, and your glasses will come with the Rochester Optical Lens for free, a $100 value.

It’s not every day you get to play with a revolutionary piece of technology.

Pardon the length (and geeky-ness) of this post. Over the last few days, I’ve had a LOT of fun testing the Epson Moverio BT-300 smart glasses, specifically while flying my DJI Mavic Pro.

To kick things off, check out this short promo video for the glasses, you’ll get a sense of how they can be used to fly FPV while, at the same time, to maintain visual line-of-sight with your drone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhYPqF3aHUs

In this post, I’m going to introduce Moverio’s technology and write about my experiences flying first-person-view (FPV) with the glasses, and I’ll lay out whether or not I think they’re a good fit for you and your efforts as a drone pilot.

Epson and the History of the Moverio BT-300

You’ve likely heard of Epson before.

The juggernaut Japanese electronics company has been around since 1942. They make printers, but they also make a number of other cool electronics, including smart glasses.

Epson Moverio BT-300 Review Smart Drone Glasses

If you read as much science fiction as I do or have any interest in the future of technology, you should have no problem coming up with a few use cases for how smart glasses and augmented reality can be used:

  • Museum tours
  • Amusement parks / entertainment complexes
  • Workplace training and remote support

To give you an idea of what the smart glasses ecosystem looks like and what kind of projects the Moverio team is involved in, check out their list of featured integration partners over here.

But we’re not here to wax philosophical on advanced technology, wearables, and what kind of devices humanity will be interacting with on a daily basis one day.

We’re here to talk about drones!

How Drone Pilots Can Use the Moverio BT-300 Glasses

As a drone pilot, one of the big operational considerations is this concept of line-of-sight flight, where, either from a regulatory perspective or simply just as a best practice, the drone pilot should be able to see the drone while flying it at all times.

Now, I shouldn’t let this post turn into a discussion of BVLOS (flying beyond visual line-of-sight) and where the drone industry is heading with all of that, but one thing to think about while flying drones now is that in order to see your first-person-view (FPV) screen, whether or not you’re using your phone, tablet, or a built-in screen, you have to take your eyes off the drone and look down at your hands.

dad learning to fly dji mavic pro drone

Take a look at my dad, who I’ve been teaching how to fly my DJI Mavic Pro.

He has a hard time toggling back and forth between watching the drone and seeing the iPad screen just below the two joysticks. He may be smiling in this picture, but my guess is that he’s a little stressed as well. His eyes are glued directly to the Mavic Pro so as not to lose focus. Something many of you can likely relate to.

That’s where the Moverio BT-300 augmented reality glasses come into play.

Put on the glasses, connect them to your DJI drone, and then the Moverio’s transparent display allows you to see key flight statistics, while still maintaining a visual line-of-sight with the aircraft.

moverio bt-300 drone smart glasses fpv review

Pretty nifty, right?

Moverio BT-300: Key Product Specs

Here are a few of the product specifications I wanted to call your attention to:

  • Maintain a clear line of sight — transparent display allows drone pilots to see key flight statistics, while still maintaining visual line of sight with the aircraft
  • Premier FPV DJI partner — controller comes preloaded with DJI’s popular DJI GO App
  • Easily record your drone in flight — front-facing camera captures real-time 1080p footage (at 30 fps) of your drone in flight, from the pilot’s point of view
  • Light, comfortable fit — world’s lightest Si-OLED-powered, binocular, transparent smart glasses1, only 2.5 oz/69 g; easy to wear, even for extended periods of time
  • Good visibility in bright sunlight — includes an extra-dark shade so there’s no need for a hood; maintain visual line of sight with your drone, even in sunny environments
  • Custom clips to hold the controller in place — securely holds the BT-300FPV controller to the DJI remote (works with Phantom™ 3, 4 and Inspire™ 1 remotes; can purchase a Mavic clip separately)
  • Android-based system — easily browse the Web, play games and stream content (does not support the Google Play™ store or other Google® Mobile Services)
  • Prescription glasses-friendly — fits over a wide range of prescription eyewear
  • Portable — rechargeable battery (in controller) offers up to six hours of battery life2; built-in card slot supports removable microSDHC cards up to 32GB
  • Future-ready — motion sensors, front-facing high-resolution camera and the ability to render 3D content will enable developers to build next-generation flight experiences

Moverio BT-300: Unboxing & Initial Thoughts / Review

OK, enough of the fluff. What’s it like to actually fly with these?

Setting up the glasses

It took me about 5-10 minutes to read through the instructions, then another 20-25 minutes to put the glasses on, get acquainted with the menu and settings, and then to install the latest firmware, to refresh the app store, and to download the DJI Go 4 app onto the glasses.

Connecting to the DJI Mavic Pro

You have to connect the Moverio glasses directly to the transmitter via an included USB cable, but other than that, you turn on your transmitter and then your aircraft just as you normally would, then you open up the DJI Go 4 App from within the glasses to get started.

Taking Off & Testing

Most of the functions that are available on the DJI Go 4 app that’s accessible in the Google Play or Apple store are also available on the Moverio glasses. It certainly looked and felt the same.

testing moverio bt-300 smart drone glasses

My wife used the smart glasses to help me frame the shot of our family.

I only had two issues while flying that I’d like to call out:

  • Focusing. That’s a DJI Mavic-specific issue though, when it comes to tapping to focus. Wearing glasses, I wasn’t able to tap while flying so had a hard time keeping things in focus. Some improvements need to be made around that, just not sure if that’s on the Moverio side, on the DJI side, or maybe I was just missing something.
  • The second issue is with the controller part of the glasses, which need to be held while flying. Holding it isn’t practical, but mounting them to the transmitter sure is. Unfortunately, there’s not an easy way to do this on the Mavic like there is the Phantom or Inspire series, but apparently there’s an extra Mavic mounting accessory that takes care of that. I haven’t picked that up yet.

I was wearing the included Rochester Optical Lenses as well, which made it a LOT easier to see the screen through the glasses and something I’d highly recommend you use while flying.

Powering Down / Storing / Traveling

The glasses and accessories fit pretty well in a small carrying case. The battery life on the glasses is really long, something like 5-6 hours, enough to last a handful of DJI battery cycles 🙂

Final Thoughts

Admittedly, I’m not well-versed in AR / smart glasses technology, so I don’t have a good means of comparison when it comes to stacking the Moverio BT-300 glasses up to other options. But here were a few of my key takeaways while testing over the last couple of weeks:

They were much lighter than I expected and really comfortable, the kind of glasses I wouldn’t mind wearing for an extended period of time. I’m under the impression that other glasses models with similar technology are a lot heavier.

They were also much easier to set up than I had anticipated. I’ve tested enough consumer electronics to have reasonable expectations when it comes to setup time. Frankly, I was planning on having to work with their support team when I first opened the box. I thought it would have been more difficult to get up and running.

It took some time to get used to the viewing screen. Just like wearing a new pair of glasses, things are a little blurry at first, and you might get some slight dizziness while operating, so its best to wear them as much as possible in a non-flight environment before taking to the skies.

It’s not the same experience as flying with FPV goggles, like the FatShark or DJI Goggle models you may have seen or already flown with. You have to play around with the glasses a bit to get the right lighting, and being able to maintain situational awareness AND fly first-person-view at the same time is really nice, but toggling back and forth with your eyes takes a bit of time to get used to. Personally, I’ve never felt completely at ease with full-on goggles and much prefer glasses like these.

Oh, and my mom and dad really enjoyed playing with them 🙂

If you’re interested in ordering the Moverio BT-300 FPV Edition, you can do so at this link. Make sure to use the code UAVCOACH to get $100 off the order. You’ll also get free shipping, and your glasses will come with the Rochester Optical Lens for free, a $100 value.

The post Exploring the Future of FPV Flying and Augmented Reality With the Epson Moverio BT-300 Smart Glasses appeared first on UAV Coach.

Announcing the High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots

We’re excited to announce our High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots.

The scholarship will provide free, unlimited access to qualifying high school students to Drone Pilot Ground School, our online test prep course to help drone pilots the FAA Part 107 exam.

High-School-STEM-Scholarship-for-Aspiring-Commercial-Drone-Pilots

About the Scholarship

The goal of the scholarship is to support high school students interested in pursuing a career in the drone industry by helping them prepare for the FAA’s Part 107 test.

An additional goal is to help further the use of drones in STEM education.

Read on to get all the details on the scholarship, and to learn more about Drone Pilot Ground School.

How Many Students Can Apply?

There are an unlimited number of scholarships available.

What Is the Deadline?

There is no deadline—applicants will be accepted on a rolling, case-by-case basis.

Who’s Eligible?

Eligible students must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be currently enrolled in high school
  • Live in the U.S.

What Does the Application Look Like?

The application has three parts:

1. Applicant Details

Pretty self-explanatory! This is just a short form with student information (name, contact information, school, and so on).

2. School Sponsor Letter

Students must secure a letter of support from an educator in their school that explains why the student is a good candidate for this specific scholarship. This could be a teacher, robotics or engineering club leader, an administrator, etc.

Please use the .edu / school email address of your school sponsor when submitting your application.

3. Questions for Applicant

Students must answer the three questions listed below. Each answer must be 250-500 words.

  • Tell us your drone story. How did you first learn about drones? What captivates you about small unmanned aerial systems?
  • Tell us about your involvement in drones to date. What models have you flown? What would you like to fly? Are you a member of any school clubs, classes, or organizations that have helped to push your interest forward?
  • How do you plan to use your FAA Remote Pilot Certificate? What are your professional aspirations in the drone industry?

If you or someone you know wants to start an application, it’s important to note that you cannot save your work as you go. We strongly recommend working in a separate document to create your answers to the questions, and then pasting them into the form when you’re ready to apply.

How Will We Pick Scholarship Recipients?

Applications are reviewed on a rolling, case-by-case basis. After submitting your application you can expect to hear back from us within 1-2 weeks.

Successful applicants will demonstrate serious intent to study for and pass the FAA Part 107 exam by providing thorough, thoughtful answers to the three questions asked, as well as securing a strong letter of recommendation. Answers that only contain a few sentences and appear hastily written / have spelling and grammar errors will likely not result in a successful outcome.

If you have any questions, send us an email at support[at]dronepilotgroundschool[dot]com.

About Drone Pilot Ground School

Drone Pilot Ground School is UAV Coach’s flagship remote course. The course was designed to help drone pilots prepare for the FAA’s Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test (also known as the Part 107 test) to gain an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate.

drone-pilot-ground-school

We’ve trained over 6,000 commercial drone pilots, and over 99% of our students pass the Part 107 test on their first try.

This video provides a good overview:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I6IBNwiZyY&t=6s

The Drone Pilot Ground School course includes:

  • 30+ Video/Text Lectures. Our curriculum was built in partnership with a Gold Seal Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and former Chief Pilot of a Part 141 Flight School to align directly with the FAA’s remote pilot certification requirements.
  • 5 Practice Tests & Support. We carefully selected the materials provided—lecture quizzes, a detailed study guide, and 5 practice tests—to ensure that you will be prepared to take the Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test at an FAA-licensed testing center.
  • Flight Proficiency Training. While flight proficiency isn’t required by the FAA, we hold our students to a higher standard. You’ll receive a Drone Pilot Ground School diploma when you pass our flight proficiency challenge.
  • 5 Years of Access. To keep your license, you’ll need to pass a recurrent FAA knowledge test every 24 months. Students get unlimited access to our online training course for 5 years (enough time for two re-certifications).
  • Real FAA Test Questions. Master the FAA’s test concepts with our database of 300+ multiple choice questions. After completing a practice test, you’ll be emailed a category performance report and a breakdown of your incorrect responses.

Through our new scholarship, all of these materials will be provided to qualifying high school students to help them prepare for the Part 107 test.

Check out our full Drone Pilot Ground School curriculum to learn more about how we help drone pilots become FAA certified to fly commercially in the U.S.

Drones in STEM Education

More and more, drones are being used to help students learn—and get excited about—STEM subjects in middle, high, and even elementary school (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

Jobs in STEM fields are growing like crazy, and helping students learn these subjects also means helping them prepare for their futures.

Over the last few years, after school drone clubs and drone-related classes have been popping up in classrooms all over the U.S.

As one example, the Taft Drone Club at the Taft High School in Cincinnati, Ohio recently received a grant of $100,000 from the Ohio State Department of Education to continue their STEM studies with drones.

taft-drone-club
Members of the Taft Drone Club

Right in line with the growth of jobs in STEM fields, drone jobs are also popping up all over the place. Aerial cinematography, inspections, 3D mapping—the list goes on and on, and these are all potential careers for high school students.

Which is to say that the job prospects for a student who obtains his or her FAA certification as a commercial drone pilot are many and diverse, and compatible with a number of different personal interests, be they artistic or technical.

 

Spreading Wings S900 drones

Looking for more resources to help you get started using drones in the classroom?

Make sure to check out this Edutopia article with seven ideas to help you get started, and also look into DroneBlocks, which provides a full curriculum for using drones in STEM education.

The post Announcing the High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots appeared first on UAV Coach.

Custom Big Rigs for Top Secret Applications: An Interview with Max Tubman, Founder of BFD Systems

A few weeks back we spent some time with Max Tubman, a drone pilot with years of experience, learning about the Dos and Don’ts of flying drones on movie sets (the material in that article was originally presented by Max at the New York City Drone Film Festival back in February, where he was an invited speaker).

BFD-systems-custom-rigs

When we spoke with Max he’d just started a new company, BFD Systems, which was launched to meet the need in the market for custom big rigs built with specific applications in mind.

We wanted to learn more about BFD and about Max’s work with custom big rigs, so we sat down to pick his brain.

UAV Coach: Please describe what BFD Systems does in one short sentence.

Max Tubman: BFD makes big drones for custom applications, particularly when customers need to lift 15lb – 40lb payloads. All our systems are built to order, for either the film industry or the industrial industry.

UAV Coach: You’ve been working closely with Gryphon Dynamics for some time now, and that relationship is what led to the creation of BFD Systems. Fill us in on where BFD came from, and what your vision is for the company.

Max Tubman: Gryphon Dynamics makes great airframe hardware and I’ve been a huge fan of theirs from the beginning, including back when I spent time working with XM2 Australia.

What I noticed when I was working with Gryphon was there was a niche market of people who didn’t just need an airframe, they needed a complete custom solution, with integrated payload systems, custom R&D, and even fleet management solutions.

This level of complete system development requires a lot of time and resources, which is what led BFD Systems to become its own entity separate from the creator of the airframe manufacturer.

UAV Coach: How did you first get involved with the drone industry?

Max Tubman: As I kid I flew RC aircraft with my grandfather and my father, and I’ve always liked to take things apart and learn how they work.

I ended up going to college for film making, and at the time I saw a film call “La Haine” from 1997 that featured a short drone shot using a 16mm camera that blew my mind. It wasn’t until years later when the GoPro first came out that I actually started flying cameras.

Soon the cameras got bigger, the RC helicopters became multirotors, then drones, and the rest is history.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js2_hBDi2LI&t=40s

Check out the opening shot and the shot at 1:11 to see what Max is talking about

UAV Coach: You have an extensive background in doing aerial cinematography via drones for movies. What was one of your favorite projects to work on, and why?

Max Tubman: Each project has its own level of excitement and unique challenges. Some of my favorite projects involve chasing vehicles or flying fast and low.

Everyone wants to do a high wide shot or a pull back. I like working with directors who know how to use the drone as another tool in their kit, not just as a gimmick, or just to say they used a drone.

UAV Coach: You’ve been involved with teams that build custom drones for all kinds of commercial applications. At a high level, can you walk us through the process of building a custom platform for a specific application—how do you start, how do you test, and how do you verify that you’ve built exactly what is needed for the job?

bfd-systems-max-tubman

Evan and Mike from BFD Systems working on a custom drone

Max Tubman: Almost always the processes starts with extracting the right information from the customer, which can be a challenge.

Every variable for a custom UAS such as the motors, batteries, flight controller, or payload can dramatically affect the build or flight parameters. After we work out the mission requirements, we kit out the components and frame.

From there we test every part of every system on a bench tester or in a lab setting. For example, motor testing is critical because the motor specs may vary from the factory or when in coaxial configurations.

I don’t think any of our customers know how much time and testing goes into each aircraft. We are continually expanding our knowledge base, but every project requires some new discovery to get all the electronics and mechanics to play nicely together.

bfd-systems-custom-drone

UAV Coach: What drone(s) do you fly and what camera(s) do you use?

Max Tubman: We fly everything. For fun we’ll do FPV race quads or airplanes. For image capture we’ll use anything from 800mm custom quads to 2400mm Octocopters with 32” props. My personal passion right now is finding a cool project to shoot with an Arri 416, 16mm or 435, 35mm camera.

UAV Coach: Most of the drones you fly are heavy rigs that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Is it stressful to fly such an expensive piece of equipment? Have you ever had anything go wrong during a flight?

Max Tubman: Because we are constantly developing new platforms and testing aircraft to the limit sometimes things break, but that allows you to learn from mistakes when testing and not while flying expensive payloads.

When flying expensive payloads we always have insurance, but also redundant flight systems and procedures, as well as parachutes and other safety features. It can be stressful but you generally just get used to it, and you become super focused on getting the work done.

bfd-systems-big-rigs

UAV Coach: What advice can you give to solopreneurs out there trying to get their drone business off the ground?

Max Tubman: Don’t be complicit with your work. Be hyper critical of what you’re doing and learn from your mistakes. Also, make a list safety rules and stick to them.

Clients will push you to do unsafe or illegal stuff all the time. Stick to your rules and learn how to give options that are safer that get the desired shot rather than just saying no.

[In case you missed it, in this recent article Max shared a template to help commercial drone pilots with pricing, along with lots of other great advice on how to get—and keep—clients in the movie industry.]

UAV Coach: What are your predictions for the drone industry? Please feel free to answer at length (what you see way down the road, what you see for next year, where you see regulations headed in the U.S. and/or elsewhere, new applications, etc.).

Max Tubman: As we stand on the verge of a new battery technology and a fundamental shift of how we generate or consume energy, I think the drone industry is in for some major upgrades.

In the next few years you’ll see a lot more manned multirotors with increasing range, safety, and convenience. Emergency response, transportation, and military might see an increase in autonomous multirotors.

Another interesting question is looking at what the drone industry has become. Right now so much of the industry is fully or partially reliant on DJI aircraft and flight controllers. We have a monoculture that would suffer huge setbacks if for some reason DJI was no longer a viable option.

Check out Max flying a big rig in the snow:

Gryphon Dynamics GD-40 handing winter conditions like a champ.

Posted by BFD Systems on Friday, July 21, 2017

The post Custom Big Rigs for Top Secret Applications: An Interview with Max Tubman, Founder of BFD Systems appeared first on UAV Coach.

Gap Wireless to Demo DJI’s Matrice 200 Series at the Big Drone Show

We wrote recently that there was some big—but still top secret—news expected about the Big Drone Show this year. One of these big announcements was just made public, and we’re excited to share the news.

[To learn more about attending the Big Drone Show in Toronto, visit their website.]

The big news is that Gap Wireless, already a distribution partner for DJI in Canada, will be unveiling DJI’s latest industrial drones at the Big Drone Show this year, specifically its Matrice 200 line of drones. That’s right—attendees of the Big Drone Show will get to see these big, powerful drones in action.

Although the Matrice 200 line was released earlier this year, having them on display for those interested in using drones for enterprise solutions helps close the gap (no pun intended) to drive adoption for companies that have a real need for drone solutions, but may have been slow to implement up to this point.

DJI’s Matrice 200 series drones are purpose-built for industrial users to perform aerial inspections and collect data, and help make drone technology accessible and affordable for enterprises with aerial imaging and mapping needs (scroll down to learn more about the Matrice 200).

“DJI is the world’s leader in drones and has a stellar reputation in the industry. We can’t wait to welcome them to Toronto.”

– Adam Sax, President and CEO of The Sky Guys

In addition to hosting DJI’s Matrice drones, Gap Wireless will also be exhibiting at the Big Drone Show. Gap Wireless is a leading distributor of products and services for the mobile broadband and wireless markets, and has become a major provider of drone solutions for carriers and enterprises in Canada and the U.S. They supply UAV products and solutions spanning aircraft, cameras & sensors, software, regulatory/training solutions, and drone defense.

About the Big Drone Show

The Big Drone Show is Canada’s premier drone event and it’s taking flight in Toronto, Canada September 27th and 28th. The team behind it are innovators doing impressive work to push the drone industry forward.

TBDS-linkedin

The Big Drone Show is a two-day event that will provide an all-encompassing view of the industry, from groundbreaking technology to the various applications, showcasing the immense value drones can bring to commercial businesses.

The goal of The Big Drone Show is to connect the global drone community with local drone industries and drone professionals within Canada.

The Big Drone Show is co-produced by Cambridge House International and The Sky Guys, and will feature:

  • 50+ exhibitors, with exciting product releases promised
  • 40+ invited speakers
  • A B2B Meeting Zone for connecting industry professionals
  • A 2 day Hackathon
  • The Toronto Drone Film Festival
  • Attendance by the top players in the drone industry, including those in commercial, government, and defense sectors, as well as academics interested in drones and drone technology.

If you’re looking to make contacts in the drone industry, it’s worth attending just to set up business meetings in theB2B Meeting Zone. The Big Drone Show is actually connecting companies with vendors for meetings—all registered attendees can set up one-on-one business meetings and all exhibiting companies have access to set-up meetings with conference speakers and qualified buyers.

Interested in attending? Register on The Big Drone Show website now, and make sure to use the code UAVCOACH for a hefty discount of 25% off of what is already a very low price of $90. (Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the registration link.)

About the Matrice 200

The M200 series comes in three versions: the M200; M210; and M210 RTK.

Each one is built to meet the needs of various industry applications, spanning critical infrastructure inspections, construction site mapping, energy facility inspections, and public safety.

DJI Matrice 200

The Matrice 200 is also well-equipped for public/government sector applications, such as search & rescue in rain or other harsh weather, or firefighting scenarios in extreme conditions.

These drones are tough and rugged, and made for flight in rain and other inhospitable conditions.

Matrice 200 in the rain

As an industrial tool, the Matrice 200 is rated IP (Ingress Protection) 43, which means that it’s waterproof and can fly in the rain just fine. It can also fly in sub-zero temperatures, with a heating system that kicks in to keep the batteries and sensors warm when under freezing conditions (pretty cool, right?).

The M200 has a closed-shell body, which allows for added portability and ease-of-use, and this also means that it can be knocked around without breaking.

https://youtu.be/xWzybek2gDw

The Two Companies Putting On the Big Drone Show

The Sky Guys are some of the top providers in Canada for  drone solutions and technology, providing proprietary drone technology and data analytics for commercial and industrial applications through their technology division, Defiant Labs. They offer specialized UAV services to over 600 clients, using a unique approach to capture data, aerial video and photography, and conduct infrastructure inspections and 3D mapping.

Cambridge House International has been building flagship, must-attend events for over 25 years, providing industries with the platform for networking, education and investment discovery.

The post Gap Wireless to Demo DJI’s Matrice 200 Series at the Big Drone Show appeared first on UAV Coach.

Taft Drone Club in Cincinnati, OH Awarded $100K to Continue STEM Studies with Drones

The Taft Drone Club at Taft High School in Cincinnati, OH was just awarded a grant of $100,000 by the Ohio Department of Education through a grant entitled “Mentoring Drone Clubs: Fueling Aerospace Engineering Career Pathways.”

taft-drone-club

This is big news to us at UAV Coach, both because we love the way educators have been incorporating drones into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, and also because Matt Ernst, the founder of the Taft Drone Club (pictured above on the far right), is an old friend of ours.

[Want to learn about other ways drones are being used for good? Check out this drones for good article we published a little while back—#4 is about STEM education.]

Matt was one of the first educators we ever met who was using drones to teach STEM to students. He was also the first educator we supported by sending drones and by providing his students with free access to Drone Pilot Ground School, our remote course to help drone pilots pass the FAA’s Part 107 exam.

So it seems fitting that Matt was awarded this impressive grant to support his drone club right at the same time that we’ve decided to formally roll out a scholarship program for Drone Pilot Ground School.

Announcing the Drone Pilot Ground School Scholarship

We’re proud to announce the High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots.

drone-pilot-ground-school

The scholarship provides free access for qualified high school students to our remote course, Drone Pilot Ground School, to help them prepare for the FAA’s Part 107 exam. Over 99% of our students pass on the first try. We’re excited to extend free access to support high school students who are working hard to prepare for their future in commercial drone work.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and there is no cap on the number of students we will be giving free access to Drone Pilot Ground School.

The criteria for eligibility is simple:

  • Student must be at least 16 years old
  • Student must be currently enrolled in high school
  • Student must live in the U.S.

For all you high school educators out there with students who are interested in preparing for the Part 107 exam, take a look at our scholarship page, encourage your students to apply, and make sure to tell other educators in your community.

There is no fee to apply—you can start your application here.

Drones in STEM and the Taft Drone Club

The Taft High School is located in an urban environment in a relatively big city, where students don’t have a great deal of opportunities after graduation. Matt Ernst’s initial thinking in creating the drone club was to provide students with an alternate career path.

The research I’ve done indicates that commercial drone pilots can make anywhere from $40 to $75 an hour, and I want our students to have the opportunity to work in this emerging field.

– Matt Ernst, Founder of the Taft Drone Club

Matt Ernst tells us that he first got the idea for starting the club when he heard that Amazon was developing drone delivery solutions, which made him curious to learn about other ways drone could be used.

taft-drone-club-drone
Image source

When he did the research he learned—as you might already know—that there were 192 commercial uses for drones.

That was back in January of 2017. Though it’s only been eight months since then, we imagine that even more commercial uses have probably popped up in that time.

This information got Matt’s wheels turning, and made him think of all the benefits there could be for his students to learn, and master, this emerging technology.

After the club started as an after school program in January, they hit the ground running by participating in the local Tech Olympics  the very next month, where they presented on the 192 commercial uses for drones.

This was the first time a project had ever been submitted from the Taft High School for the Tech Olympics. One of the highlights of the club’s participation in the Olympics was when one of the club members, a 7th grader with an impressive amount of experience flying drones, maneuvered a nano drone through a banquet hall with an eight foot high ceiling and landed it on the table directly in front of the judges.

Long term, the goal of the club is to turn the school activity into an accredited course that would provide some kind of STEM credit for students.

Looking for more resources to help you get started with drones in the classroom? Make sure to check out this Edutopia article with seven ideas to help you get started, and also look into DroneBlocks, which provides a full curriculum for using drones in STEM education.

About the Grant

$100,000 is a ton of money. We were curious to hear about what Matt proposed to win the grant, and what he plans to do for the club now that he has the funds secured.

To start out, some of the grant money will be spent on hardware. Drones cost money, as we all know, and the funds needed aren’t usually available in a typical after-school program budget.

Here’s the equipment they already have:

  • 1 DJI Phantom 4
  • 1 Yuneec Typhoon 4K

Here are Matt’s goals for the Taft Drone Club this year, which were shared as part of his proposal to the OH Department of Edcuation:

  • Provide students a career alternative to college in the drone industry. Any commercial use of drone technology requires an FAA drone pilot’s license. Prep students for the FAA drone pilot’s certification exam (i.e. Part 107 exam) with the use of the Drone Pilot Ground School online prep course.
  • Integrate drone technology into the classroom. Teachers have also been notified that drone and student pilots are available for possible projects in the classroom.
  • Show student’s drone uses in commercial, defense, and entertainment industries.
  • Present this course and curriculum to the ODE (Ohio Department of Education) for graduation credit and college plus credit.
  • All students will be working on the Drone Pilot Ground School course during the school year. The goal is to support two upperclassmen in getting their drone pilot’s license.

TheTaft Drone Club’s 2017-2018 schedule was also an important part of their application. Some of the grant funds will be used to help students make the trips listed below (most notably the trip to the drone expo in Washington, D.C.).

Here’s the schedule:

  • Perform at two football games (halftime performances)—Fall 2017
  • Attend the National Drone Expo Washington, D.C.—Nov. 2017
  • Attend and oversee the Hour of Code—Dec 2017
  • Attend and enter a project into the Tech Olympics Tech Competition—Feb 2018
  • Create a video of the Taft High School grounds and embed it on the school website—Feb 2018
  • Co-manage a Cincinnati site for the DRL—Summer 2018
  • Plan and oversee the a District Racing League for any CPS school drone club—May 2018

One big goal Matt has this school year is to help two of his students prepare to become FAA certified as commercial drone pilots. And—you guessed—both students have free access to Drone Pilot Ground School to support their efforts.

Dontray Etter-Ward, a rising junior at Taft High School, is interested in video editing and video. He loves taking every piece of film and playing with it, and he has an audio studio at home where he does mixing and editing.

Gregory Haskins, an 8th grader, is one of the club’s most experienced drone pilots, and he’s also an avid online gamer. Though he cannot get his license now he is already preparing for the test, and the club looks forward to Gregory passing it when he is eligible. Matt predicts that Gregory will be a favorite to win the CPS drone racing league title. It’s early, but Gregory is considering a career in IT when he graduates high school.

Apply for the High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots

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