At the request of Central Michigan University’s President Robert O. Davies, Hyvion and CMU have embarked on a three year initiative to win the theoretical triple crown of academic advancement in drone use. Focusing on providing students tools to bolster their careers, recruitment avenues to generate high touch points with middle and high school students and external partnerships linking the University's collegiate campus with its state and regional community. This comes after CMU’s nearly quarter-of-a-million dollar investment in drone technology for students in 2019.
Hyvion’s founder and CEO Zach Huffman said, “It’s this trifecta of an approach that will empower students to utilize uncrewed aerial vehicles in their professions post-graduation.”
While drones on college campuses are no revolutionary undertaking Hyvion and Central Michigan University have taken a different approach to building the programs curriculum.
“We’re not training only aviators,” Huffman stated, “but rather we’re focused on taking a student and showing them how adding drone use to their major can impact research and become another tool they utilize in the field.”
"We’re focused on taking a student and showing them how adding drone use to their major can impact research and become another tool they utilize in the field."
The program currently works across seven departments on campus: Broadcast and Cinematic Arts, Geographic Information Sciences, Engineering, Meteorology, Parks and Recreation, Entrepreneurship and Journalism. It has targeted more than 30 other departments on campus that could strategically integrate drone use into their curriculum and student offerings.
In February CMU’s Academic Senate approved a unique certificate in drone use enabling departments to develop concentrations of the certificate specific to their area of interest. Two required core classes provide training on FAA regulations and hands on drone flight, which is then paired with courses from the students major or minor to complete the certification.
Elizabeth Kirby, CMU's Vice President of Innovation and Online, who oversees the initiative, emphasizes the program's holistic approach. "We're committed to providing a comprehensive experience for students, both in the classroom and in the services they will provide in the field," says Kirby. “We’re grateful for this partnership with Hyvion and the visionary curriculum and student experiences we are building together."
“We’re grateful for this partnership with Hyvion and the visionary curriculum and student experiences we are building together."
Agreements between PSI Testing and the CMU Testing Center now allow students to complete the Federal Aviation Administration’s written exams on campus. The University’s mid-Michigan location has increased accessibility for Michiganders and students alike as the testing center is open to the public for all FAA exams.
Central Michigan University hopes to help fill the gap of nearly 100,000 new remote pilots that will be needed by 2026 to fulfill industry demand, as outlined in the FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2022-2042.
The program isn’t only focused on students currently attending the university. High school and middle school drone camps are scheduled throughout the year to teach students about the STEM knowledge needed to become a Part 107 operator, while also providing students with a hands on opportunity to take flight. External partnerships are also enabling Central Michigan to take the drone program on the road and provide mini-camps at high schools throughout Michigan.
“One thing we have learned from high school educators is that many k-12 teachers have drones and don’t know how to use them effectively,” said Huffman. “While others want to use drones but dont have the funds to fuel the upfront costs.”
Additional members of the drone program have targeted alumni and community members who are interested in advancing their operations by adding the technology to their playbook.
Tim Otteman is the Department Chairperson for the Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services Administration and has noted several park directors, who are former CMU alumni, and have a desire to learn more about drone technology.
Administrators across campus are taking to the skies, including both the Board of Trustees and President's Cabinet. At February’s Trustees meeting, Kevin Campbell from the Broadcast and Cinematic Arts Department, and manager of the drone program, presented an update where Trustees had the chance to take flight.
President Davies and members of his Cabinet will be participating in a two day accelerated Part 107 training this upcoming summer. Their hope is to best understand the federal regulations so that they can effectively promote and help the program grow.
Huffman states, “This is a flagship program for the Hyvion team, we’re thankful for the President and Provost’s trust in us to help to build such an interdisciplinary cornerstone.”
“This is a flagship program for the Hyvion team, we’re thankful for the President and Provost’s trust in us to help to build such an interdisciplinary cornerstone.”
While the program began laying its foundation early on, the preceding six months have proven to be a time of substantial growth and focus. Those interested in earning a drone certificate can reach out to Kevin Campbell for directions on how to enroll.
Hyvion offers software and drone solutions that enable brands to elevate their perspective. With a growing market network of pilots, Hyvion makes uncrewed aircraft flight an opportunity without the hassle. If you have questions or would like to learn more about Hyvion, contact us here.