By: Sean Hernandez
News Correspondent 

The UAS senior capstone course known as AS 475: UAS Mission Execution is wrapping up its first semester outside of the experimental phase.

The course provides practical field experience for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) students with an emphasis on operating UAS in support of actual commercial or civil operations in the surrounding area.

There are two separate groups working on projects for this capstone course. Their work isn’t focused on one single project, throughout the semester they’re given multiple missions to conduct. 

One of these groups is known as the “Bagdad Group” which includes students Dakota Freshman, Tyler Summerlin, Grady Roth, and Chasen Newland. They aren’t in any type detail or prelim with their work.

Once they are given an assignment by the customer, they design a mission to meet their needs, execute the mission, and create a final product to deliver to the customer.  

Their first project had them working with a biologist to survey the Bridle Creek Riparian Habitat in Bagdad, Ariz. The team’s biggest difficulty this semester with the Bagdad project was time.

The class time is once a week for five hours but on average it takes an hour and a half one way to reach the habitat.

Currently the only product the group has made involved using EO cameras to recreate a 3D render of the habitat to identify erosion.

The group plans to go out one last time with an improved mission using a longer endurance aircraft and a multispectral camera to identify areas of poor vegetation.  

The group also worked with Nexus Southwest, a local surveying company, to survey a property and see how UAS can be utilized in that industry. Not every mission is clear cut.

Some of these businesses are considering UAS solutions for the first time and are looking to the students of this course to point them in the right direction on how to implement drones into their business. 

“I really enjoyed how dynamic this class has been so far. It is different when you learn about something in class, but then you have to apply it in the real world.

I think this class has pushed me and my teammates to be better pilots and has taught us a lot about using drones in real life situations,” Dakota mentioned. “It will be a lot of fun to finally show what we have accomplished and what we can do after we graduate.” 

The team would like to thank the UAS capstone professor, Johnny Young for providing connections with local businesses who wanted to work with University’s UAS students.

They would also like to thank Dusty Eiker, the biologist they worked with in Bagdad, and Adam Haywood, their contact with Nexus Southwest.

Dakota also would like to thank the other members of his team, “They are all hardworking individuals and the project would not have come out as good as it has without them.” 

The Bagdad group is excited to be presenting their final products from working in the Bridle Creek Riparian Habitat and from working with Nexus Southwest.

They will be presenting with the rest of the College of Aviation in the Stem Building on April 27. 


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