UND, SkySkopes and Grand Sky Team Up to Find Ways Drones Can Improve Lives

GRAND FORKS, ND — UND students are working to improve lives by using drones.

The nation’s first unmanned aircraft aviation park teamed up with the university.

Drones are widely used for cinematography and military operations, but some engineering master’s students at UND are using them for research.

“Using drones, I’m able to fly lower and get even higher resolution data,” said UND geology student Kelsey Forward.

One student is using a drone called Hornet 6 for her master’s program and she’s using it to get thermal imagery of groundwater seepage.

“You can see the plumes of cold water entering into the warm surface body water,” said Forward.

Finding out where fallen rain water flows is usually done using satellite imagery but Forward said the drone gives closer and more detailed data.

“Anything that can infiltrate through the soil and down into the groundwater can end up in our surface waters,” explained Forward. “Our lakes and out ponds which can affect our uses for recreation, also the ecological impacts, our fish, our plants, that kind of thing.”

Another student helped build a fixed wing drone which will be used to help train aspiring unmanned aircraft pilots.

“It gives them a platform to learn how to fly the aircrafts in their different classes,” said UND master’s student Mitch Campion. “But it also has some sensor and payload capabilities that we wanted to build into it. It’s a good jack of all trades.”

SkySkopes and Grand Sky joined up with UND last fall to make projects like these possible.

“We want to collect data that’s able to benefit students through their research,” said Matt Dunlevy, who is president and CEO of SkySkopes. “We want to collect data that could also be handed off to Grand Sky engineers.”

It’s a working relationship which helps the students and these businesses.

The students are also helping collect data for future development of the Grand Sky facility.

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