University Offering Virtual Drone Course


Thanks to a new online course from Clemson University, contractors can now enroll in a five-module course for certifications in applied drone technology.


The five-module course reportedly teaches the fundamentals of commercial drone operations and software applications. Key learning objectives include:

  • Passing the FAA Part 107 exam;
  • Learning to create 3D models from drone data;
  • A wide range of practical skillsets such as filing FAA waivers, requesting ATC authorization and programming autonomous missions; and
  • Flight skills.

Offered through self-paced and instructor-led options, the course uses a combination of flight simulation programs to teach flight skills and ContextCapture, a SfM software, to create 3D models and maps. The self-paced course is reported to take 10 weeks and includes a collection of videos, voiceover powerpoints and written e-material, while the instructor-led course is led by Joe Burgett, an associate professor from Clemson’s Nieri Family Department of Construction Science and Management, and can be completed in an accelerated five weeks.



At Clemson, Burgett teaches both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on drone application in the built environment. By trade, he is a general contractor and has worked exclusively with the South Carolina Department of Transportation. Throughout his career, Burgett has published multiple peer-reviewed articles on UAS technology, including titles such as “Accuracy of Drone Image Based Volumetric Surveys,” “Evaluating the Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to Perform Low-Slope Roof Inspections” and “SCiDUC: Solution to Address Common Challenges of State Agency Drone Deployment.”


In 2018, Burgett was named Clemson’s Master Teacher.


The five-module course is broken down as follows:

  • Module 1: Part 107 exam preparation;
  • Module 2: Complete Part 107 preparation and Pass Exam; Begin flight training with simulator;
  • Module 3: Review mission checklists for sale drone operation; Controlled airspace LAANC authorization; Learn program waypoint assisted missions; Create basic 3D photogrammetric model; Continue flight training with simulator;
  • Module 4: Additional flight training with simulator; Use surveyed Ground Control Points to enhance your models; Take off materials quantities (volume and area) from your models; Learn to improve models by removing unwanted artifacts; and
  • Module 5: Privacy and drones; Final round of simulated flight training putting your flight skills to the test; Create contour line map from your 3D model; and Create aerial and sectional orthophotos from your 3D models.

(Note: the FAA exam fee is not included with the course.)


For enrollment fee information, click here. Contractors looking to participate in the online course—provided through Clemson’s “Canvas” online learning management system—will need a smart device and a PC computer. The university recommends a MS Windows 8.1 or better, Intel/AMD CPU 1.0GHz, any Nvidia, AMD or Intel GPU compatible with OpenGL 3.2, 16Gb RAM, and 100Gb - SATA Drive.


Drones in Universities


Researchers from the University of Newcastle School of Engineering reported in March that they’d begun developing a new drone technology to help predict what areas and specific pipes are at risk of water loss through corrosion.


While the risk of degradation is traditionally dependent on an underground water supply network’s age and the amount of moisture in the ground surrounding the infrastructure, more recently, sensor devices have been deployed at specific sites to measure water flow to indicate leaks or breaks.


The technique utilizes a Light Detection and Ranging sensor, commonly referred to as LiDAR, which is a remote sensing method that uses a pulsed laser to measure ranges and variable distances to the Earth. From the differences collected in laser return times and wavelengths, the data can then be used to make digital 3D-representations of the landscape and indicate the amount of water in the ground.


The LiDAR drone technology research headed by University of Newcastle investigates soil moisture and corrosion and is part of a larger innovative smart water management project coordinated by NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN) and is led by Sydney Water.


Tagged categories: Colleges and Universities; Digital tools; drone; Drones; Education; NA; North America; Online tools; Program/Project Management; Technology; Tools & Equipment

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