UC Santa Cruz students excel in 3rd year of CIDER drone pilot program

CIDER drone pilot training program participants stand in open field piloting drones. Each student wears a neon yellow vest.

The third cohort of the Pilot Training Program, which launched at UC Santa Cruz in 2021 under the direction of the CITRIS Initiative for Drone Education and Research (CIDER), is its largest yet. This year, the size of the drone piloting course doubled from 20 to 40 undergraduates and expanded to include an agriculture-focused track. CIDER trains participants with field and classroom instruction to become licensed pilots and to serve as a diverse, responsible workforce in drone research and industry.

Small student teams used drones to collect mapping and video data around the UC Santa Cruz campus for personal and faculty research, with projects ranging from inspecting solar panels to assessing the health and yield of strawberries at the campus farm. The final class of the spring quarter will showcase student presentations, offering the new pilots an opportunity to meet and receive feedback from industry professionals.

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