In June, Veronica Spradlin, Montgomery County Public Schools high school engineering teacher, and GeoTEd-UAS cohort member, lead a historic mission to 3-dimensionally map Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium using UAS technology.
The objective of this mission was to capture aerial imagery and process it into a full 3D model of the stadium that can be reproduced on a 3D printer. To accomplish this, Spradlin and her team would capture more than 2,000 aerial UAS images of the stadium’s interior and exterior.
Flying an UAS in such a busy, populated area, close to an airport, over such a well-known structure comes with permission requests and inherent logistical concerns. These requests were directed through Greg Calvert, Virginia Tech’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Safety Manager. Securing the right permissions took months, but once attained, Calvert and Spradlin came up with a plan that stressed communication and situational awareness to mitigate risk.
Spradlin was the remote pilot in charge of the mission, and her student Daniel Kuhar conducted many of the interior flights. There was radio communication throughout the mission and a visual observer was posted on the stadium roof, keeping an eye on air traffic and monitoring weather reports. Several other visual observers were stationed around and within the stadium.
Spradlin’s GeoTEd-UAS faculty mentor, David Webb, supported her throughout the mission’s development and coordination. Webb teaches mechanical engineering at John Tyler Community College and is a long-time GeoTEd-UAS consultant. According to Webb, Spradlin’s determination was essential to accomplish this mission. Spradlin is also hoping to incorporate UAS technology into her curriculum at Blacksburg High School.
Partners in GeoTEd-UAS include Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC), Thomas Nelson Community College, Mountain Empire Community College, the Virginia Community College System, and Virginia Tech.