News and Events

On Campus: Look, up in the sky

January 22, 2015
Written by Mark Keller, director of college advancement
Featured in"On Campus" in the Medicine Hat News

Puzzled by what you see flying over the Medicine Hat College campus?

Is it a bird? Nope. No feathers and flapping going on.

Is it a plane? Sorry, no pilot could fit in that tiny space.

And since superheroes make great entertainment but rarely make appearances, it could be you’ve just seen one of the two drones owned and operated by Medicine Hat College.

Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), represent a new and intriguing way that technology is reshaping our environment. For that reason alone, MHC needs to be engaged.

Our first steps have been small, but I suspect our stride will be stretching in the very near future.

The information technology program is the first academic area to embrace RPAS. Yes, flying the small aircraft is a useful skill, but managing the vast amount of data they are capable of gathering creates value for businesses.

Meanwhile, over in our sport and wellness department, a drone was used to capture video and still images of the soccer championships the college hosted this fall. We used the same little RPAS to capture the cover shot on the current edition of real, our campus and alumni magazine.

These have been great opportunities to learn about the capabilities offered by this new technology. And there are many, many possibilities.

Just a short list of applications would span pretty much every industry in the region. Drones can be used in agriculture to monitor the health of crops for example. They can inspect power and pipe lines. They can scan for hot spots in forests, look for lost people, monitor domestic herds and wildlife too, and take images of accident scenes to help determine causes.

In some places, drones are being used to capture unique views of real estate and other properties. On-line video sharing sites are full of unique and engaging images of sports, vistas, hillsides, rivers basins, ski hills, parks, and even weddings.

The list of possibilities and applications goes on…and on.

Like all innovations, however, developing the skills and knowledge to work safely and effectively is important. For example, our campus fits within the class E airspace that surrounds Medicine Hat airport. That means flying drones requires advance planning and permission from Transport Canada. The broad use of drones brings ethical questions, too.

But helping people and business take advantage of opportunity is what a college does best. Search the word RPAS on our website and connect if you’d like to explore further.

The Medicine Hat News is a great community partner. Thanks!