New drone programme awarded Australian funding


SeoulStudents from across Australia’s Northern Territory will have the chance to learn the ins and outs of the NT drone industry after a Charles Darwin University (CDU) programme received Federal Government funding. The CDU Drone program was awarded A$99,020 through The Maker Projects: Community STEM Engagement Grants 2022.

The programme, in partnership with National Drones, will provide a pathway into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers for Northern Territory youths in years 9 to 12, including the option to achieve a nationally recognised/accredited Vocational Education and Training qualification.

The CDU Drone programme coordinator Dr Rebecca Rogers said students would be introduced to different aspects of the Territory’s unique drone industry and learn how to use the technology to solve real-world problems. “We really want the program to highlight existing challenges that are unique to the Northern Territory and the drone pilots trying to solve them,” Dr Rogers said. “This means students might explore how drones can detect feral pigs or monitor endangered wallabies, deliver health services or even look for rock art.”

Dr Rogers said students would be able to learn different aspects of drones such as flying, safety and the legalities of operating the technology. She said the program would open students’ minds to the opportunities they can seize to drive change in the Territory.

CDU Professor Hamish Campbell, who is the Director of the North Australia Centre for Autonomous Systems (NACAS) based at CDU, said in the future drone technologies would be everywhere. “We find young people have a natural affinity with the technology, and this program will give Northern Territory youth a leg up from which they can become leaders in the field,” Professor Campbell said.

“Drones could make a real difference to people in the Northern Territory, but beyond that they are a great tool for learning the skills needed to be successful in all kinds of STEM careers,” Dr Rogers said.

The program will be offered in schools, festivals and remote communities from later this year and will give students a critical bridge into a Certificate III qualification and other STEM courses.

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