UAS Faculty Institute Report for VCU Rice Rivers Center

GeoTEd-UAS’s third UAS Faculty Institute supporting further professional development of community college faculty and other high school educators was hosted by the Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Rice Rivers Center (RRC). The RRC is situated on 342 acres along the James River, which includes a 70-acre wetland restoration site and the LEED Sustainable Walter L. Rice Education Building.

This Institute enabled GeoTEd-UAS cohort members to plan and conduct real-world field operations to produce data useful to VCU’s RRC.  Data were collected using a variety of sensors, e.g., true color, multispectral, near-infrared (NIR), and thermal.  All missions were operated under the FAA Part 107 rules for commercial small UAS operations. Data collected will be provided to RRC to use in their ongoing research.

The primary objective was to characterize the vegetation, structure, microhabitats, drainage patterns, and tidal activities of the large wetland using high resolution mapping techniques.

Other objectives included providing a baseline for the growth and spread of reintroduced subsurface vegetation and vegetative vigor on the green roof of the conference center.

Future projects and courses led by community college faculty will provide deeper analysis and interpretation of the data in support of the Center.

All data is available for download at this link.

All data is available for download at this link https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am2KvGpWMWj4l7JCHxJeVZjB_DJIcQ



Faculty Professional Development Institute

This professional development opportunity is designed to provide training for community college faculty in the operation of UAS.  After attending the GeoTEd-UAS Institute, faculty will be better qualified to serve as UAS instructors, to integrate sUAS within their existing  discipline / curriculum, and to provide the trained technicians needed to meet employer demand.

The GeoTEd-UAS team provided two one-week Faculty UAS Institutes hosted by Virginia Tech, and held during the summers of 2017 and 2018. A total of faculty trained was 27, 21 community college faculty, three high school teachers, and three additional educators.

Institute topics included: FAA Part 107 regulation; manual and autonomous sUAS flight operations; mission planning; sUAS maintenance and repair; sensor selection; data capture formatting and post processing; and remote sensing data analysis.

All told, 26 faculty cohorts have completed FAA’s Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, and all community college faculty and other educators are integrating UAS into their instruction and/or teaching UMS courses.

Aside from classroom instruction, part of the GeoTEd-UAS mission includes service learning projects. These projects include activities that create a balance between service outcomes and learning goals in the context of reciprocal relationships among faculty, students, and partner organizations (e.g., NASA, The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Tech).

Faculty Mentoring – Faculty Mentoring – Cohort participants were assigned a GeoTEd-UAS team member as a mentor. Following each of the two Institutes, participants were required to complete and submit a description of their proposed UAS integration into the classroom their respective community college. GeoTEd-UAS team mentors reviewed these and supplied support as needed.

During the 2018 Institute, the faculty cohort completed short service learning projects at a Christmas tree farm and another at a dairy.

Participating Community Colleges

Blue Ridge Community College
Dabney S. Lancaster Community College
Danville Community College
Eastern Shore Community College
Germanna Community College
Mountain Empire Community College (partner)
New River Community College
Southwest Virginia Community College
Thomas Nelson Community College (partner)
Tidewater Community College
Virginia Highlands Community College

External Evaluation






For additional evaluation information  in pdf form, click here.

Magnolia Consulting, Charlottesville, VA, evaluated the GeoTEd-UAS faculty institute. Evaluation design used both qualitative and quantitative data and analyses collected through surveys, interviews, and document review. Data analyses compared survey data collected before the first GeoTEd-UAS Institute in the spring of 2017 to data collected after the second, held in May 2018. Results here, center around four major areas of growth: mission planning, flight operations, data processing, and coursework integration.

If you have any questions about the GeoTEd-UAS faculty workshops, please feel free to contact David Webb (davidewebb@outlook.com ), Cherie Aukland (TNCC |auklandc@tncc.edu), Fred Coeburn (MECC  |  fcoeburn@mecc.edu), Chris Carter (VSGC | cxcarter@odu.edu), or John McGee (VT | jmcg@vt.edu).