Drones in Education – Making Students Future-Ready

Using drones in education to teach survey and mapping is quickly becoming the new norm. Multiple engineering institutes around the country and the world are utilizing drones to further the learning of their students. ideaForge drones have become a key knowledge partner for some of these prestigious educational institutes.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) is actively looking to train the current skill pool using new-age technology like drones. On the same lines, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is keen to reform the current engineering curriculum. The intent is to infuse the skills-set of about 1.5 million engineering graduates/year with drone-enabled surveying and mapping, machine learning applications, Internet of Things, etc.

This would not just improve the global market-skill-fit of the graduates but also revitalize the interest in civil (and other) engineering verticals.

Future of Drones – Building the Next 5 Indian Years

16%-17% CAGR.  That’s the growth chart of global commercial drones between 2017-2023. Moreover, the Indian UAV market is slated to size-up to $885.7 million by 2021. Even considering the overall easing of these numbers during 2020, the actual mark (UAV market 2021) would not have more than a 10% difference.

India is investing heavily in infrastructure. Companies are vertically integrating (through captive sources/acquisitions or direct growth) to incorporate more upstream or downstream services. This is a big boom time for new-age engineering. Here, drones would set-up most of these projects for success.

Infrastructure, in itself, would see a drone-enabled market potential of $45.2 billion (global). It’s imperative that the current and future batches of Indian engineers are well-versed and adept at applying drones for commercial use.

Drone-Enabled Surveying, Mapping, Inspections, and More

Many enterprises and most government departments are actively using drones in at least one significant project. The current engineers would be handling drones in some way or form. In-line with HRD ministry’s and AICTE’s reforms, many engineering institutes are incorporating drones into their curriculum in a significant manner. This is the primary way to make these students future-ready.

Drones 101: Surveying and mapping

Traditional manual surveying and mapping of mining, construction, agricultural, forest land (sites) are being gradually upgraded using drone-led high-resolution surveys.

Manual surveying and mapping were cost-heavy and time-intensive. It took weeks to properly survey even a few acres. To begin with, the Ground Control Points (GCP) installation and calibration took days. The final manually-acquired survey data wasn’t properly compiled which further delayed the processing. The process had a lot of error-infusing points which adversely affected the final survey results.

With many enterprises and departments going the drone way, students must become attuned with drone-enabled surveying and mapping. Drones bring in faster and more accurate GCP calibrations. Moreover, the engineers require far-lesser GCPs as the drone not just compensates for them, but also amplifies their (individual GCP’s) overall reach.

ideaForge drones are Post-Processing (PPK) enabled. This means that they concurrently process the information either as they aerially-capture it, or just afterwards. The high-resolution visual and thermal images are ortho-rectified. These drones are instrumental in creating highly accurate 3D Digital Elevation Models (DEM), detailed contour profiles, Building Information Model (BIM), etc.

The survey-grade drones reduce the cost of actual surveying and mapping by 50-70% while reducing the time taken by up to 83.33%.

Drones 102: Security and Surveillance

Drones save surveying and mapping resource and time cost. But there’s much more that makes these UAVs a sticky-feature in India’s future.

These drones are a great asset for regular and fine surveillance of project sites. The UAVs enhance the overall security protocols of any leasehold or site. They add-on an unassailable edge over the existing CCTV cameras or motion detectors. The student engineers need to be perfectly capable of leveraging drones to safeguard all future security protocols.

Drones 103: Safety, Asset inspections and volumetric estimations

ideaForge’s drones boast of high endurance and built as per military design philosophies. This means that they can safely, and for longer flights, get up-close with risky assets/machinery in hard-to-reach areas. Drone-led asset inspections put the engineers at a safe distance. They can avoid accessing these assets through dangerous scaffolding, rope-access, etc.

Drones are also instrumental in in-plant or on-site operational control. Surveyors and future supervisors can use drones to perform drone-enabled and photogrammetry-driven volumetric estimations. The drones can also ensure that every construction or operational process on the ground is happening as per plans.

Drone benefits for engineering institutes and students

There’s no denying it. Drones are an important aspect of how the world currently conducts its operations and overall business. Institutes are intent on making their students prepared for the actual applications in the world.

Drones, here, don’t just add significantly to the learning curve but are also incredibly cost-efficient. As it is in real-life scenarios, drones within educational institutes can reduce the overall surveying and mapping (projects) by 50%-70%.

Drones are a necessary skill-set for most engineers. So, it’s not a matter of if (for the educational institutes) but when.



October 2022

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