Preparing Students for Drone Careers Using Active Learning Instruction

Deepan Lobo, Drashti Patel, Jorim Morainvile, Prateek Shekhar, Pramod Abichandani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The exponential growth in the adoption of drones in various industrial applications has created a demand for professionals experienced in designing, programming, operating, and piloting drones. This paper reports on an active learning-based instructional approach that prepares students for careers in the drone industry. The approach focuses on three foundational pillars of drone careers: 1) drone programming using Python, 2) designing and fabricating drones using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and rapid prototyping, and 3) the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 Commercial small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAVs) pilot test. The approach was implemented and refined over four semesters in an undergraduate class attended by engineering and computer science students at a research institution located in the United States. A case study approach using multiple assessment methods was implemented to examine students' gains in skills and knowledge and attitudes towards an active learning-based approach for drone education. Assessment methods included direct formative (FAA quizzes and programming assignments), direct summative (capstone project), indirect quantitative (survey of learning gains), and indirect qualitative (focus group interviews and capstone project process videos) tools. Assessment results noted in this paper indicate that students were actively engaged during the course and made positive gains in their learning outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126216-126230
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


  • STEM education
  • Small unmanned aerial vehicles
  • drones
  • education
  • engineering education
  • sUAVs


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