CIDER drone pilot training helps UC Santa Cruz students reach new heights

Collage of two photos: Students standing in a field flying a drone; a group of 18 students and faculty standing on a staircase under trees.

On an unseasonably warm day in early February, a group of students and faculty launched drones into the air above a meadow on the UC Santa Cruz campus, one of only a few places in the world home to the endangered Ohlone tiger beetle. The group used the drones to map slight differences in the topography of the field in order to better understand which areas of habitat the species prefers and potentially determine the best ways to protect them.

This field research was part of the first-ever drone Pilot Training Program put on by the CITRIS Initiative for Drone Education and Research (CIDER), which aims to support drone research and industry to develop a diverse drone workforce. CIDER launched this new program with a cohort of 18 undergraduate students with a range of academic interests who met twice a week for classroom and field instruction about drones.