UNICEF’s African Drone and Data Academy has won the humanitarian and public safety award from the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International.
AUVSI, the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing unmanned systems and robotics, selected the Center for International Research, Education, and Development-managed drone academy for its commitment to developing drone technology to improve lives.
In operation since 2020, the drone academy launched when UNICEF partnered with Virginia Tech to provide African youth with drone, data, and entrepreneurship skills for response to development needs. Students take part in a 10-week course not only to learn how to construct, test, and fly drones, but also to analyze drone imagery and data. Drone technology can be used to address a number of humanitarian needs in the areas of health, agriculture, and the environment.
Kevin Kochersberger, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering and head of the ADDA program, said this award further supports drone technology as a valuable tool for addressing emerging global challenges.
“All around the world, we see mobility and data access as critical elements to achieving higher standards of living,” he said. “Drones have become the go-to resource to support these areas, especially in regions with limited infrastructure. Winning this award recognizes the value of the program to our graduates and the communities they serve.”
Brian Kamamia, ADDA project manager in Malawi, added, “Graduates of our program are fundamentally improving their local communities through careers in emergency medical deliveries, precision agriculture, urban planning, climate change, and anti-poaching. Furthermore, through predictive analysis such as flood modeling and land use analysis, our graduates are able to better prepare their local communities for natural disasters and disease outbreaks. The 21st-century skills acquired from ADDA are crucial in promoting and ensuring sustainable growth across the African continent.”