Learning to fly drones in La Grande

by Austin Hawks

I chose to be an educator because I wanted to provide hands on opportunities for students in labs and exercises. Drones, (UAV Unmanned Arial Vehicles) have made their debut in our society and natural resource fields. As a Senior Instructor in the Eastern Oregon Agriculture and Natural resource program I was lucky enough to receive a rural development grant from Farm Credit Services. I began researching the options for drones students could use. Where a professional drone would be awesome to see fly around for the students, they would not get to fly it because of equipment availability, cost and FAA licensing. With the grant money I was able to purchase 15 classroom drones so students could learn about technologies in agriculture and use technologies in agriculture and develop skills and confidence around various equipment. The drones were flown in The Crop Production in Pacific Northwest Agroecosystems (CROP 300) and Introduction to Insect Pest Management (ENT 311) with intentions to utilize them in 3 more disciplines where the mission will be discipline specific. The drones that are being used is the DJI Tello’s and the Tello application for a smart phone as their controller and mission programmer. The application allows the student to turn their phone into a controller. The drone is light enough (less than 50 grams) a student does not need a pilot’s license, they are affordable and have a camera capable of video and pictures. Another great thing about the lightweight drone was we could fly them indoors in the EOU practice gym which was nice on a cold La Grande day! The students enjoyed the lab and the experience and will be better prepared to embrace technology they see as they develop their career.

The College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University is Oregon's principal source of knowledge relating to agricultural and food systems, and a major source of knowledge regarding environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences, and rural economies and communities worldwide. The College provides undergraduate and graduate education leading to baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and extended education programs throughout Oregon and beyond. Its research programs create knowledge to solve problems and to build a knowledge base for the future. It is a source of information and expertise in integrating and applying knowledge with benefits that are felt in domestic and international settings.