Home Educational Trends Game of Drones: The Emerging Field of UAVs and Quadcopters

Game of Drones: The Emerging Field of UAVs and Quadcopters

by Dr. Bruce Ellis

“Drone pilots wanted. Starting salary $100,000.”

As I read the listing, I first realized the validity of the quote drilled into my head by my undergraduate professors. “We’re preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet.” – Richard Riley

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a flying robot. A quadcopter is a sort of helicopter with four arms and an engine and a  propeller on the end of each arm. Quadcopters are great for recording video and are less expensive than drones. Dallas-based research firm Markets and Markets recently estimated that the global commercial drone market will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 109.3 percent and reach $1.27 billion by 2020 — meaning thousands of new jobs in the next five years.

Drones are not just for the military any more. Agriculture, medicine, public works, fire fighting, and logistics are among the fields where you’ll find them. Amazon, Facebook, and Google are bulking up their drone departments and looking for MANY good, unmanned UAV operators for the next ten years. And as the price for good drones continues to drop, the demand will only increase.

Will our students be prepared? Less than 40 universities currently offer courses in UAV and drones. Many high schools still lack even basic robotic courses and offer nothing in unmanned flight.

While there are few prepackaged curriculum sources, you can still begin to prepare your students with small steps.

  • First, start a robotics class or club at your school. Tynker, available for iOS and Android, allows coding for simulated robots and drones.
  • Help students develop an enthusiasm for engineering and robotics by using a drone to take aerial photography. For advice on the best drone for education, take a look at this article.
  • Link drones to your subject area. They are a natural for any of the STEM fields and can be used to study: Newton’s Third Law, algorithms, photography, programming, micro controllers, coding, and tech terminology.


If you’d like to see what students can learn from drone technology, check out this article. It includes 12 creative ways to use to use drones for learning, including making your own drone.

We are constantly trying to maintain relevance from the classroom to the “real” world. With daily emerging technologies, most could easily be overlooked as a gimmick — not so with drones. They are a technology that will become commonplace and very needed. Help to prepare your students.

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