Drones are expected to become a 100 billion dollar marketplace by 2020. ~ Goldman Sachs
The Path of Greatness
It’s hard to deny it — from their humble beginnings, drones have exploded into the market, delivering safer, cheaper and more efficient alternatives to jobs across the board. From farms and real estate, to even the many wildfires raging this summer, there’s no other way to put it — UAVs make our lives easier, and in more ways than one. Sure, they’re lighter on our pocketbooks and easier on the environment, but more than anything, drones offer us something our students need: opportunity.
There is no limit to what impact drones can have on the careers of the future. With exponential growth over the next three years, we’ve only really reached the crest of the first Foothill — Everest still lays before us. As drones continue to innovate the marketplace, growing and streamlining different job sectors, there’s no limit to what they can do.
So, what are the drone careers of the future? Well, that’s the thing. With how quickly and extensively the marketplace is expanding, you can’t pinpoint everything it will do. Currently, drones are an organic beast, evolving and changing into any shape of peg they need for any hole — they are limitless.
They will continue to innovate, they will continue to change and they will continue to provide today’s students with unlimited opportunities in the future... as long as they have the right tools to make the best of uncharted waters in front of them. As many as 100,000 new jobs will be created in the first ten years after unmanned aircraft are cleared for takeoff in U.S. airspace, according to a 2013 report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
The Role of Education
Apart from Lewis and Clark-ing across the untouched wilds of the West, currently, drones are doing incredible things and bringing with them incredible opportunities. “The University of North Dakota, which started its bachelor's degree course in unmanned aircraft systems in 2008, recently received a $25 million endowment (it's largest ever) to build a new drone research and training facility (Rooney).” And they’re not the only program looking to prepare their students for the new world ahead of us.
The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a nonprofit that helps 21 school districts in southeastern Kentucky improve their education systems, is hoping to take its aerospace program to the next level by building an estimated $25 million drone-testing site in Hazard, Kentucky, to help scientists and entrepreneurs hone their drone-related inventions and to prepare students for jobs in the emerging industry (Nix).
Not only are drones making an impact in the commercial and domestic sector, but they’re soaring into classrooms and universities across the nation as educators realize the potential of the marketplace and of teaching STEM through a multi-platform aerial robotics program.
Some of the earliest schools to sit in the drone jet stream now boast incredible, fully accredited degrees in Unmanned Aerial Systems, schools like:
- Oklahoma State University
- Kansas State Polytechnic University
- North Dakota University
- Indiana State University
- Troy University
But, drones have also found their way into earlier education. To learn about how drones are already revolutionizing middle and high school education in Idaho, head over to The Idaho Drone Institute blog.
Careers of Today
While we can’t list the jobs drones will create in the future, what we can do is list the opportunities that already exist. These are just some of the incredible jobs, innovations and industry evolutions drones are offering to those ready to make the most of them.
From real estate to agriculture, drones are turning that $2,500 an hour helicopter fee into an afternoon of unmanned aerial flight.
As Jakob Schiller says, “Kalle Ljung’s Antarctica video looks like it was filmed with a helicopter and wildly expensive gyro-stabilized camera. But the photographer used a consumer drone and GoPro to create a majestic piece of cinematography that makes you see the Antarctic anew.”
“For builders, the case for return on investment is straightforward. Drones are cheaper to fly than manned aircraft and faster than human surveyors, and they collect data far more frequently than either, letting construction workers track a site’s progress with a degree of accuracy previously unknown in the industry. With the right computing tools, builders can turn sensor data into 3D structural models, topographical maps, and volumetric measurements (useful for monitoring stockpiles of costly resources like sand and gravel). Collectively, that intelligence allows construction companies to more efficiently deploy resources around a job site, minimize potential issues, trim costs, and limit delays" (Dillow).
“If you’ve ever covered a hurricane, large tornado or flood, you know that it gets really hard to describe to people in any meaningful way just how massive the damage is,” said Matthew Waite, founder of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Drone Journalism Lab. “It’s hard, in words and ground-based images, to convey scope and scale. I covered hurricanes in Florida, tornadoes in Arkansas and all kinds of disasters in between and it was frustrating as a writer to try to get people to understand the size of it all. A drone is a purpose-built context machine. It can give people that understanding in just a few seconds of video, a few frames of still photos” (Etzler).
Your Piece of the Puzzle
So, what do all of these new opportunities and career innovations mean? One thing — today’s students need to be prepared for the possibilities of tomorrow. As an educator, it’s your job to make sure that you’ve instilled in them the right tools to chip away at their own little section of the explosive market.
To discover more about the careers of tomorrow, tune into the Flying Into The Future Webinar: Drones, Careers and Competitions and explore exactly how to bring drones to your learners.