Elon Drone Day returns on Nov. 18

The second annual event, hosted by the School of Communications, plans to introduce a broader audience to the technological and professional potential of the growing drone industry. While the event is free and open to the public, registration is required.

Sequels hardly ever surpass the original, but the upcoming 2022 Elon Drone Day might be the exception.

Thanks to a grant from the Elon Innovation Council, the second annual Elon Drone Day returns to campus on Friday, Nov. 18, with aspirations to introduce a broader audience to the growing drone industry and the potential it offers technologically and professionally.

In 2021, the inaugural event drew more than 120 attendees to Elon to highlight the latest drone technology, learn about the training and regulatory requirements of drone operation, and experience a drone demonstration showcasing the opportunities ­across industries related to unmanned aerial vehicles.

This fall’s event, which is free and open to the public, again invites recreational and commercial pilots, educators, students and other community members interested in uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) to discuss the ever-increasing popularity of commercial and recreational drone use. While there is no cost to attend Elon Drone Day, registration is required. Click here to complete your registration.

The 2022 program features representatives from the fields of cinema and media, engineering, computer science, and international and global studies. With an expanded focus that will appeal to a broader range of people, the 2022 Elon Drone Day will continue to establish the university as a leading advocate for drone education and training.

Organizer Randy Piland, senior lecturer in communication design, called last year “an absolute success based on the number of attendees and the positive feedback after the event.” He recalled that he immediately began fielding inquiries about the event’s return, and he admitted that the positive response led him to contemplate ways to expand its programming, subjects and reach.

The daylong program kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with check-in and a meet and greet in Dwight C. Schar Hall, followed by four educational sessions in Turner Theatre.

“We learned last year that many in the drone community want to learn more about the drone industry, what’s new, the challenges, and the opportunities ahead,” Piland said. “As a result, even STEM educators are bringing their drone classes to the event. We hope to get more Elon students from those programs by adding cross-discipline topics to the program this year.”

The daylong program kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with check-in and a meet and greet in Dwight C. Schar Hall, followed by four educational sessions in Turner Theatre addressing topics such as “Applying AI to Drone Delivery and Inspection with Quality Data” and “How Drones Fit in the Cinema and News Business.” Additionally, sessions will discuss the future of the industry, as well as the role of engineering and robotics in the defense field. To view the full schedule of events, visit the Elon Drone Day website.

Featured presenters include Austin Brown, an FAA-certified drone pilot and co-founder of Global Air Media, LLC; Jack Emerick, an account executive at CloudFactory; Mike Gearin, a creative director at PhotoFlight Aerial Media; and Tim Williams, a mechanical and systems engineer at Tomahawk Robotics.

More than 20 companies and agencies will be on hand as part of the vendor expo. Flight demonstrations will also be held at the end of the program at 3:30 p.m.

“I am excited about all four main topics this year and the vendor list, which almost doubled compared to last year,” Piland said. “I feel their scope of industry involvement, the application of tech used, and the growth of employment opportunities are all critical.”

Piland added, “We have several demonstration commitments which tie to the drone delivery services, NCDOT, with their expansion of operations, and I have just gotten confirmation that we’ll have a drone racing league as a vendor and they will do a demo as well.”

According to Piland, Elon Drone Day is the result of several collaborations, including a close partnership with the North Carolina chapter of the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle System International (AUVSI), which is co-hosting the event. Additionally, the School of Communications has paired with the Department of Engineering and the Department of Computer Science – along with numerous community partners – to bring the event to fruition.

“As part of the Elon Innovation Council grant application, I worked to provide a cross-discipline focus to ensure there was a broad appeal across campus for this type of activity,” Piland said. “As a result, I connected with industry specialists covering communications, engineering, computer science, and global entrepreneur topics.”

Questions can be directed to Piland at rpiland@elon.edu or (336) 278-5232.