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Active Learning in Physics and Engineering Through UAV and Data Analytics

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

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July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

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Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Cadavious M. Jones

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Dr. Cadavious M. Jones is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Alabama State University. He received his BS in 2006 and MS in 2008 from Alabama State University, and PhD in Mathematics from Auburn University in 2014. He is a contributor to the Australian Maths Trust, and member of the MASAMU international research group for mathematics.

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Rajendran Swamidurai Alabama State University

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Dr. Rajendran Swamidurai is an Professor and Coordinator of Computer Science at Alabama State University. He received his BE in 1992 and ME in 1998 from the University of Madras, and PhD in Computer Science and Software Engineering from Auburn University in 2009. He is an IEEE senior Member and ASEE Member.

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Johnathan Barnett Huntingdon College

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Dr. Johnathan Barnett is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Huntingdon College. He received his BS from Huntingdon College in 2011. He received both his MS and PhD in Mathematics from Auburn University in 2013 and 2016, respectively.

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Derrick Dean Alabama State University

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Raynetta Prevo-Williams Alabama State University

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The goal of the “Active Learning in Physics and Engineering through UAV and data analytics” paper is to share our experience in developing and testing active learning modules in engineering and physics courses designed to engross students in the process of advanced manufacturing principles and techniques for constructing and analyzing UAVs. Our course modules walked students through producing working solutions by having them perform a series of hands-on manufacturing and analysis exercises developed specifically to apply cutting-edge industry techniques. Research into the fields of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) continues to steer the advancement in many related areas. In particular, the development of UAVs promotes research in composite-based additive manufacturing technologies and materials, more sophisticated means of communication for non-stationary devices, automation, 3D printing, advances in agricultural techniques and product supply chain. For example, NASA presented drone design improvements to entrepreneurs and businesses as a means to propel the field and create fuel efficient UAVs [NASA 2019]. In terms of manufacturing, the Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking to establish a domestic supply chain for the manufacturing of lightweight drones and continues to partner with universities, private companies and programs such as Manufacturing USA for the development of drone related technologies [DoD 2019, FCW 2019].

Developing manufacturing techniques for UAV production and producing a highly skilled workforce is a global concern, particularly for the US. It is estimated about 15% of the drones used by the Department of the Interior (DOI) are manufactured entirely by Shenzhen-based DJI, the world’s largest supplier of drones, while the remainder are primarily constructed in China or contain Chinese-made components [Fortune 2019]. Investment into this area of research and manufacturing continues to attract companies such as Lockheed Martin, who is investing in the development of optionally manned and unmanned systems. In 2015 DJI, received an investment of $75 million dollars, increasing its total valuation to $10 billion. Similarly, a report by the Congressional Research Service in September 2015 estimated that by 2025 worldwide production of unmanned aircraft systems would rise from $4 billion to $14 billion annually.[Global 2016] Hence, a capable workforce of designers, researchers and engineers are required as the field progresses forward. Although, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has yet to begin reporting the statistics for employment related to the production and piloting of drones and related components, companies in the sector see the need for a highly skilled workforce. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicted that in 2020 the market for UAV pilots would quadruple and further stated that there would be a need for over 300,000 more as demand increased. For example, industries not usually thought to be associated with advances in technology are being transformed by UAVs with related UAV employment opportunities arising: Real Estate, Construction and Mining, Filmmaking, Public Safety, Insurance, Agriculture, Energy, and Telecommunications. Currently, the Amazon Corporation is developing a UAS and is seeking to implement UAVs into their supply chain. In 2016 a model of this system was created to addresses FAA regulations, drone design, logistics, and related factors in an effort to determine how Amazon would construct, initiate and operate the drone system [Sudbury et al., 2016]. In their findings, Sudbury and Hutchinson concluded that such a venture would be feasible and that a UAS would cut current delivery cost by a third when compared to ground delivery cost while excluding the cost of research and development. Most recently, as a result of Covid-19 in June of 2020, it was reported by CNN and the Washington Post that the drone service Wing from Google's parent company Alphabet collaborated with a Virginia librarian to deliver library books to students in Christiansburg’s Montgomery County Public School district using drones [Elassar 2020].


1. These New NASA UAV Designs Could Take Your Tech to the Next Level Dec. 11, 2019, Loura Hall, 2. Department of Defense and The Texas A&M University System Co-Sponsor Drone Venture Day to Protect the U.S. Defense Industrial Base, NOV. 14, 2019, 3. DOD looks to expand drone industrial base amid supply chain concerns, Aug 26, 2019, Lauren C. Williams, 4. The U.S. Interior Department Has Grounded Its Fleet of 800 Drones, Fearing Chinese Surveillance, October 31, 2019, EAMON BARRETT, a. Drone development in the manufacturing sector b. Drone development in the manufacturing sector c. Drone development in the manufacturing sector d. Drone development in the manufacturing sector e. Drone development in the manufacturing sector 5. Drone development in the manufacturing sector PETER FORSHAW. Jul 13, 2016, 6. THE PHYSICS AND ITS RELATION WITH THE ENGINEERING, C. Morón et al., Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings Pages: 5929-5934 Publication year: 2011, ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3ISSN: 2340-1079 7. Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference, Dates: 7-9 March, 2011, Location: Valencia, Spain, 8. LIGHTWEIGHT COMPOSITE MATERIALS FOR HEAVY DUTY VEHICLES, Prucz et al., 2013, US Department of Energy , Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy , National Energy Technology Laboratory , 9. SUDBURY, Adrienne Welch; HUTCHINSON, E. Bruce. A Cost Analysis Of Amazon Prime Air (Drone Delivery). Journal for Economic Educators, [S.l.], v. 16, n. 1, p. 1-12, aug. 2016. ISSN 2688-5956. Available at: Date accessed: 03 feb. 2020. 10. Google's Wing drones are dropping off books to students in Virginia who can't go to the library because of the coronavirus June 15, 2020, Alaa Elassar.

Jones, C. M., & Swamidurai, R., & Barnett, J., & Dean, D., & Prevo-Williams, R. (2021, July), Active Learning in Physics and Engineering Through UAV and Data Analytics Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36645

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