GeoTEd-UAS Selects Faculty for the 2021-23 Faculty Institute Cohort

The GeoTEd-UAS Institute is a professional development opportunity that provides training for educators in the use of geospatial technology and unmanned aircraft systems (AKA ‘drones’, sUAS).  At the conclusion of the GeoTEd-UAS Institute, faculty will be better qualified to provide geospatial analysis and sUAS instruction within their primary discipline.


Eighteen community college faculty and two high-school educators have been selected to become members of the GeoTEd-UAS faculty cohort. These 20 educators will attend the sUAS Faculty Institutes offered by the project team. The multiyear cohort model to train and mentor faculty has been used in previous projects and is based on a best-practice model in faculty professional development. The 20 educators chosen have committed to three years of participation in the project and will attend the Institute, attend webinars and other professional development opportunities, and implement geospatial technology and sUAS into their teaching.


Eight faculty from seven different disciplines from partnering institution Germanna Community College (GCC) were selected. Ten faculty from nine other community colleges were selected. These faculty teach at colleges that serve high percentages of underrepresented and underserved student populations. Two high-school teachers who teach in GCC’s service region were also selected to participate. They will integrate these technologies into the classroom to support student recruitment, and to also work with GCC to build dual-enrollment courses and other partnerships.


Germanna Community College (Environmental Science, Geography, Administration of Justice, Biology (2), Biology/Geology, Cybersecurity, IT)

Northern Virginia Community College (2) (Geography and Geology)

Patrick Henry Community College (General Engineering Technology)

Blue Ridge Community College (Criminal Justice / Homeland Security / Emergency Management)

Southside Virginia Community College (Information Technology and

Central Virginia Community College (Technology and Engineering)

Lord Fairfax Community College (Computer Science, Information Systems Technology and Cybersecurity)

Virginia Highlands Community College (Horticulture)

Eastern Shore Community College (Technology and Management)

J. Sargaent Reynolds Community College (Engineering)

Spotsylvania High School (Engineering)

Orange County High School (Technology and Engineering)


2019 sUAS Faculty Institute and Service-Learning Project at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rice Rivers Center


GeoTEd-UAS’s third sUAS Faculty Institute provided professional development to community college faculty and high school educators and was hosted by the Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Rice Rivers Center (RRC). The RRC is situated on 342 acres along the James River in Charles City and includes a 70-acre wetland restoration site and the LEED Sustainable Walter L. Rice Education Building.


This Institute enabled GeoTEd-UAS cohort members to plan and conduct real-world field operations to produce data useful to VCU’s RRC.  Data were collected using a variety of sensors, e.g., true color, multispectral, near-infrared (NIR), and thermal.  All missions were operated under the FAA Part 107 rules for commercial small UAS operations. Data collected was provided to RRC to use in their ongoing research.


The primary objective was to characterize the vegetation, structure, microhabitats, drainage patterns, and tidal activities of the large wetland using high resolution mapping techniques.


Other objectives included providing a baseline for the growth and spread of reintroduced subsurface vegetation and vegetative vigor on the green roof of the conference center.


Future projects and courses led by community college faculty will provide deeper analysis and interpretation of the data in support of the Center.


The final report summarizing the missions and analyzing the data can be downloaded here.


Photographs are available for download at this link.

2017 and 2018 sUAS Faculty Professional Development Institutes

These faculty professional development opportunities were designed to provide training for community college faculty and other educators in the operation of sUAS.  After attending the GeoTEd-UAS Institute, faculty are better qualified to serve as sUAS instructors, to integrate sUAS within their existing  discipline / curriculum, and to provide the trained technicians needed to meet employer demand.


The GeoTEd-UAS team provided two one-week Faculty UAS Institutes hosted by Virginia Tech in Summer 2017 and 2018. Twenty-seven faculty were trained–twenty-one community college faculty, three high school teachers, and three additional educators.


Institute topics included: FAA Part 107 regulation; manual and autonomous sUAS flight operations; mission planning; sUAS maintenance and repair; sensor selection; data capture formatting and post processing; and remote sensing data analysis.


All told, 26 faculty cohorts have completed FAA’s Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, and all community college faculty and other educators are integrating sUAS into their instruction and/or teaching UMS Courses.


In addition to classroom instruction, part of the GeoTEd-UAS mission includes service learning projects. These projects include activities that create a balance between service outcomes and learning goals in the context of reciprocal relationships among faculty, students, and partner organizations (e.g., NASA, The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Tech).


A critical component of professional development is structured faculty peer mentoring. Cohort participants were assigned a GeoTEd-UAS team member as a mentor. Following each of the two Institutes, participants were required to complete and submit a description of their proposed sUAS integration into the classroom their respective community college. GeoTEd-UAS team mentors reviewed these and supplied support as needed.


During the 2018 Institute, the faculty cohort completed short service learning projects at a Christmas tree farm and another at a dairy farm. These projects provided real-world scenarios where faculty collected data to answer questions and solve problems working directly with customers.


Community Colleges Participating in the Faculty Institutes  


Blue Ridge Community College

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College

Danville Community College

Eastern Shore Community College

Germanna Community College

Mountain Empire Community College

New River Community College

Southwest Virginia Community College

Thomas Nelson Community College

Tidewater Community College

Virginia Highlands Community College