Alongside UNICEF, Virginia Tech opened the first African Drone and Data Academy in Lilongwe, Malawi to meet the needs within the health, agriculture and environment sector.
In the academy, students will take a 12-week course to develop data and entrepreunership skills. By 2021, the goal is to train around 150 students to be able to build and pilot drones. Additionally, by 2022, the academy will establish a two-year master’s degree program in drone technology in collaboration with the Malawi University of Science and Technology, according to Virginia Tech officials.
The first cohort of students at the academy consisted of 16 students from Malawi and 10 students from across Africa.
“The academy reflects Virginia Tech’s ongoing commitment to the innovative application of drone technology and education in Malawi and the Africa region,” said Kevin Kochersberger, an associate professor in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. “It will give graduates the necessary skills for jobs using drone applications ranging from agriculture and health to natural resources monitoring and urban planning.”