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BP uses drones to carry out some of its most challenging tasks in remote areas. Now, a three-day ‘drone camp’ co-sponsored by BP has helped schoolchildren in Houston, U.S., to discover more about the technology behind these unmanned aerial vehicles.

The camp, hosted at Rice University in partnership with the school’s Center for Engineering Leadership and drone service company Trumbull Unmanned, was offered free of charge and taught students concepts such as drone design, safety, aerodynamics and teamwork.

To learn about the technology used within drones, such as navigation and global positioning, the students were asked to find specific landmarks around the Rice campus using coordinates. At the close of the camp, teams gave presentations on how using drone technology can help solve real-world challenges.

Voyage of discovery

“I had no idea that drones could be used in so many ways,” said student Ashton Macklin. “The cool thing was that we learned how to fly drones, but also the science behind them, like GPS and lift.”

In addition to BP’s contribution to help fund the camp, several employees volunteered at the event,  instructing students and leading discussions about how the technology is applied in the energy industry. The camp’s agenda was designed specifically to align with the Houston Independent School District curriculum.

“To prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, students need a quality education and a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – also known as STEM,” said Kathleen Martinez, senior director of BP’s strategic relationships. “That is why BP chose to support this drone camp – to excite students, especially underrepresented minorities and girls, about STEM.”

Meeting tomorrow's needs

As the opportunities to use drones for business purposes increase, the need for talented operators will grow as well. This camp was an introduction to the new technology for many of the students who participated.

BP was the first company approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate drones commercially over land in the US. BP is using drones to carry out some of its most challenging tasks in Alaska’s North Slope, including conducting safety surveys at its operations around Prudhoe Bay and creating 3-D mapping of the drilling pads and roads.