Drone Pilot JobsDrone camps to take flight this summer

July 23, 2021by helo-10

When Matthew Johnson was a math teacher at Elmwood High School, his students struggled to understand concepts related to trigonometry. Searching for a solution, Johnson started using drones to convey lessons to kids, which led to increased success in the classroom.

“When I was teaching at Elmwood High School, I found that trigonometry was something that you can use a drone for fairly easily, and it engaged students quite a bit. When I realized how well it translates into education, it kind of spurred me to develop an educational program,” Johnson said.

Johnson eventually left his teaching job to pursue a career in drone training. He launched his own company, M3 Drone Training Zone — now a part of Volatus Aerospace — and developed the training program, Drones In The Classroom. Johnson said he has trained more than 1,000 drone pilots across Canada since 2017.

For the first time this summer, Drones in the Classroom is offering week-long camps for kids aged 11 to 17. The camps will take place from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Aug. 9 to 13 and Aug. 16 to 20. Afternoon sessions are reserved for students enrolled in the Seven Oaks School Division.

Participants will learn about the drone industry, the principles of flight, SCRATCH coding, drone piloting, racing, photography, videography and safety, and aerial mapping and photogrammetry.

The cost of the program is $650 plus tax, and includes the training as well as a drone that participants can take home and study materials for Transport Canada’s official drone pilot certificate exam.

“These camps are basically a way to engage young people in this new emerging technology,” Johnson said. “I think … people still think of drones as toys, whereas they’re really separating themselves as extremely valuable tools.”

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that can be used for completing both simple and complex tasks.

For example, they can be used to measure the health of plants in a field, Johnson explained. Specialized near-infrared sensors attached to drones flying over crops capture imagery of the plants. The sensors detect sunlight as it bounces off the plants; if they’re healthy plants, they reflect the near-infrared light, but if they’re unhealthy they absorb it.

“Using this sensor, you’re able to detect whether plants are healthy or unhealthy. And because the drone is flying so low, basically, you can almost determine which exact plants are healthy and unhealthy. Which separates the value from what satellites can do, because satellites can do something similar but they’re doing a much larger area …. They don’t give you the precision that a drone can provide.”

All camp instructors will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and public health orders will be followed, Johnson said. For more information or to register, visit dronesined.com/camps

Sydney Hildebrandt
The Times community journalist

If The Buggles’ 1979 breakout single were about Sydney, it might be called Print Killed the Radio Star.
Before she joined Canstar Community News, Sydney was an anchor and a reporter for a few local news radio stations in rural Manitoba. After realizing she enjoyed writing more than speaking, Sydney moved to Winnipeg just months after graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa with degrees in journalism and geography.
Through clenched teeth and frostbitten fingers, she has come to appreciate Winnipeg — numbing winters and all. When she’s not in the newsroom, Sydney can be found playing card games, listening to music, and writing content for her friends who are too cheap to hire a PR team.

Sydney has a strong heart for community news and believes every neighbourhood, town and city is better off because of it — although she may be biased. Sydney loves learning about communities and what makes them tick, which is why she’s grateful to be a reporter covering northwest Winnipeg neighbourhoods, where resilience and innovation is abundant.
She can be reached at [email protected]

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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.


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