Drones For Education: heliguy™ Helping UK Colleges Adopt Drone Technology

Drones For Education: heliguy™ Helping UK Colleges Adopt Drone Technology

UK colleges are increasingly incorporating drones into their curriculums - and are turning to heliguy™ for consultancy, supply, and training. Find out how Oldham College and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) are introducing drones to help students working towards qualifications such as T Levels and HTQs.

Last updated: Jan 23, 2023

7 minute read

  • Rising number of UK colleges are incorporating drones into their curriculums - and turning to heliguy™ for consultancy, supply/support, and training;
  • Drones are being integrated into a range of syllabuses to help students work towards qualifications such as T Levels and HTQs; 
  • Find out how and why Oldham College and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) have introduced drones into their teaching provision, and how heliguy™ is supporting them;
  • Oldham College is using drones within its new T Level Construction curriculum, and will also introduce UAS as part of its HTQ construction qualifications and the Introduction to Modern Methods of Surveying course;
  • SRUC is utilising drones to bolster its course delivery of Forestry and Arboriculture, and Agriculture - with qualification levels including Certificate, Advanced Certificate, HNC, and HND;
  • heliguy™ has a track record of working with the education sector, supporting universities such as Cranfield, Cambridge, and University College London (UCL).

UK colleges are increasingly incorporating drones into their curriculums, recognising the technology’s value to real-world applications and helping to prepare students for a digital future.

With UAS playing an ever more important role in the world of work, drones are fast-becoming an integral component within higher and further education, as colleges aim to bolster career development pathways, provide authentic learning experiences, and cultivate skills in industries where drones are driving accurate, efficient, and safe data collection.

As such, a rising number of colleges are seeking drone supply, support and training from heliguy™, who has a track record of working with the education sector, including universities such as UCL, Cranfield, Nottingham, Cambridge, Newcastle, and Stirling, to facilitate ground-breaking research.

heliguy™ is helping colleges integrate the technology and associated workflows into courses such as construction, forestry, and agriculture - for students working towards a range of qualifications, including T Levels and HTQs (Higher Technical Qualifications).

This blog will focus on two colleges: Oldham College and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) - highlighting why they are incorporating drones into their curriculums, and how heliguy™ is supporting them.

Oldham College Introduces Drones For T Level Construction Course

Oldham College - which offers an extensive range of technical and professional qualifications - is a recent adopter of drones, having purchased the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise and DJI Mini 3 Pro, as well as the Emlid RS2+ GNSS receiver, from heliguy™.


Emlid Reach Receiver and DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise. 

As part of the offering, drones will be used within the new T Level Construction curriculum: A sector that is increasingly benefiting from the deployment of UAS.

T Levels are two-year courses which are taken after GCSEs and are broadly equivalent in size to three A-Levels. They are developed in collaboration with employers and education providers so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for entry into skilled employment, an apprenticeship, or related technical study through further or higher education.

Tom Leahy, Oldham College’s Head of Department for Building Services Engineering, said: “Drone technology sits within the Building Technology Principles topic and will be used on our T Level provision, which includes Design, Surveying and Planning - where drones will be used throughout the full course - and Building Services Engineering, where they will be used during the core year.



“Learners are required to understand the benefits of using technologies from other industries and how the construction industry is incorporating these technologies, such as drones.

“The course content will cover surveying using drones and how they can be used for construction - including thermal imaging - as well as site security, site inspections, and virtual walkarounds.”

Oldham College will also introduce drones as part of its HTQ construction qualifications and the soon-to-be-launched Introduction to Modern Methods of Surveying.



As well as drone hardware supply and support, the staffing team at Oldham will benefit from heliguy™ training, including dedicated surveying tuition from the in-house GIS team, and the Ofqual-regulated TQUK Level 4 drone pilot training course - an advanced version of the GVC (General Visual Line of Sight Certificate) - delivered by heliguy™’s training instructors.

Tom said: “We chose heliguy™ due to their experience with drone technology and wide range of testimonies.

“The service provided gives us the technology, and more importantly, the continuing professional development required for all of our delivery staff.

“It is very important that all our staff are fully up-to-date with industry developments and current methods used within the construction industry. Staff also need to be confident in the delivery of drone technology, so using a reputable company like heliguy™ that can provide the drones and the required training, is essential.”

SRUC Adopts Drones For Agriculture And Forestry

SRUC is Scotland's national provider of college and university-level education in the land-based sector.

The institution has turned to heliguy™ for the DJI M300 RTK drone and L1 LiDAR and photogrammetry sensor; the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced; and the Phantom 4 Multispectral, to bolster its course delivery of Forestry and Arboriculture, and Agriculture - with qualification levels including Certificate, Advanced Certificate, Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND).



Lecturer Philip Sage, who specialises in land management, forestry and land-based engineering, said it was vital that students were au fait with drone technology, given its ever-increasing role in forestry management, monitoring tree health and characteristics, and capturing precise and accurate spatial data.

He said: “Drones have become an everyday bit of kit within the sector, and more and more students are asking about using drones as a tool for forestry and ag-tech.

“So we have decided to introduce them as part of our courses to help students feel comfortable around them and understand how to maximise their capabilities within the industry and properly analyse the data they collect. For example, the image below shows a point cloud of our walled garden and orchard.



“Using drones in this way helps to prepare the students for the real-world application of drones in forestry and agriculture - whether it is conducting mapping for land management, using multispectral drones for managing crops and monitoring their health or efficient nutrient applications, or utilising thermal cameras for deer surveys.”

The drones will also be used for SRUC’s research and survey work.

“Drones are a great enabler for conducting scientific research - feeding into work addressing health and productivity in animals, animal welfare and crops; and wildlife conservation, promoting low carbon farming and increasing farm output through efficiency and innovation,” said Philip. 

One such project includes a joint initiative with Forest Land Scotland to assist a study into the management of individual ash trees affected by ash dieback.

Philip added: “This research will provide the students with an opportunity to see the drones being used on a real-world project and show how UAS can make a difference. For example, the thermal drone image below is of an ash stand which was taken to assess the extent of ash dieback.”


Thermal drone image showing ash dieback, collected by SRUC.


To provide the students with comprehensive tuition, SRUC’s six-strong forestry staffing team has completed the UK CAA-approved A2 CofC drone training course through heliguy™. 

Philip has also undergone dedicated surveying training - including RTK and PPK, and LiDAR data capture and processing - delivered by heliguy™’s surveying specialists, as well as heliguy™’s Ofqual-regulated Level 4 Drone Training Course, which includes the completion of workbook assessments.



He said: “It was important to complete the Level 4 course, as well as the specialist surveying course, as it adds credibility, deepens understanding, and widens knowledge about surveying workflows, which in turn benefits our students and enables us to pass on more information to raise the standard.

“heliguy™ was recommended to me: We have received really good support and have benefited from a two-way service, where their consultants have worked with us to provide the best drone solutions tailored to our course requirements. The training has also been excellent.”


Drones have become an essential tool for a range of industry verticals, so it is no surprise that more and more colleges are starting to introduce the technology into their educational provision. In doing so, they are laying the foundations to provide students with the skills required for a modern-day working environment.

Having played a leading role within the drone sector for almost 20 years, heliguy™ has witnessed the evolution of UAS as commercial tools and understands the value of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning and how drone adoption can pave the way for enhanced opportunities and employment credentials.

As such, heliguy™ takes pride in supporting educational establishments and is committed to help colleges, schools, and universities integrate the technology into curriculums to facilitate the development of an innovative and tech-savvy workforce of the future.

Richard Dunlop, part of the heliguy™ surveying team, said: "Aerial drone surveying is embedded into a number of industries, and it has a growing role in AEC, forestry and agriculture.

"It has been a pleasure working alongside Oldham College and SRUC with our drone technology and training, and it is great to see educational bodies opening themselves up to the benefits of drone surveying, showing them how drones can be used to complement and elevate existing workflows.

"heliguy™ looks forward to supporting education and the new T Level courses with a variety of courses planned for the year ahead."

For more information about using drones for education, and to find out more about how heliguy™ can support your adoption and scaling of drone technology, contact us

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