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The Air Up There Podcast

Building a Career with Drones

Season 2, Episode 13
Published: Friday, June 4, 2021

In Season 2, Episode 11, we spoke with FAA drone expert Danielle Corbett to gain a better understanding of how drone pilots can fly safely and in line with FAA rules. That episode is packed with lots of information that will help you to be a great drone pilot!

In today's episode, we're talking about drone entrepreneurship. Drones can be used for a variety of business purposes, like photography, to survey agriculture, to conduct building inspections and a variety of other important functions. You'll hear first-hand from a drone entrepreneur, Eno Umoh, co-founder of the Global Air Drone Academy, an organization working hard to help young people realize the entrepreneurial benefits of drone piloting. Eno gives us insight into the endless possibilities in the drone world, and why it is so important that we're teaching future generation of drone pilots how to fly safely as they consider those opportunities.

Want to know more about drone piloting, but don't know who to ask? Feel free to contact the UAS Support Center, where they'll answer all of your burning drone questions. The FAA has countless resources, as well as drone specific social media accounts for the drone community on Facebook and Twitter.

Bonus tip: The FAA recently implemented two new rules, Operations Over People and Part 107.

Disclaimer: Reference in this podcast to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, company, or trademark does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. government, DOT, or FAA. As an agency of the U.S. government, the FAA cannot endorse or appear to endorse any specific product or service.

Building a Career with Drones

Building a Career with Drones

Transcript

Dominique Gebru:
Hi, I'm Dominique Gebru.

Allen Kenitzer:
And I'm Allen Kenitzer and you're listening to The Air Up There, a podcast about the wide world of aviation and aerospace. A few weeks ago, we spoke with FAA drone expert, Danielle Corbett, to gain a better understanding of how drone pilots can fly safely and in line with FAA rules. That topic was actually a request from our social media audience. And if you haven't listened to it yet, pause this episode and do that first.

Dominique Gebru:
Danielle was super helpful and that episode is packed with information, but drone piloting is a pretty big topic and we needed more than one episode to talk about it. So to continue that conversation, this week we're talking about drone entrepreneurship.

Allen Kenitzer:
What do you mean by drone entrepreneurship, Dominique?

Dominique Gebru:
Well, we're going to hear directly from a drone entrepreneur, later on in this episode, but as I've mentioned before, I really love photography and that's the reason I've personally been considering buying a drone of my own. And after talking with Danielle, I realized that there are some key differences between flying for fun and flying for business. So if I do decide to get a drone and get the proper certifications, I could turn drone photography into my own little side business.

Allen Kenitzer:
That's a great idea. Using drones for business is truly cutting edge. So what kinds of certifications do drone pilots need to be aware of?

Dominique Gebru:
I'm glad you asked. Our listeners can find all of this information in greater detail on faa.gov/uas, but most pilots using their drone for business purposes will want to get familiar with something called Part 107. Basically Part 107 is the FAA's rule for certificated drone pilots, including those flying for commercial or business purposes. There are a few requirements, including a knowledge test, drone registration, an age requirement, and a few other things to keep in mind. So if you're considering flying for business reasons, head to faa.gov/uas first.

Allen Kenitzer:
And the business possibilities are vast. In addition to photography, drones can be used to conduct building inspections, to survey agriculture, and for a variety of other important functions.

Dominique Gebru:
And Allen, that's the perfect segue to my conversation with Eno Umoh, he's the co-founder of the Global Air Drone Academy, an organization working hard to help young people realize the entrepreneurial benefits of drone piloting. Eno gives us insight into the endless possibilities in the drone world. He also helped us consider why it's so important that we're teaching future generations of drone pilots how to fly safely as they consider those opportunities.

Allen Kenitzer:
But before we hear that interview, we have a quick disclaimer to read: Reference in this podcast to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, company, or trademark does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. government, DOT, or the FAA. As an agency of the U.S. government the FAA can not endorse or appear to endorse any specific product or service.

Dominique Gebru:
Thanks, Allen and sorry I always make you read the disclaimer.

Dominique Gebru:
Thanks so much for being here with us Eno; I am really excited to hear a little bit more about you and about the work that you do with the Global Air Drone Academy. So why don't we start off, could you just introduce yourself and introduce the Global Air Drone Academy to us.

Eno Umoh:
Sure, sure. My name is Eno Umoh and I'm the co-founder of the Global Air Drone Academy. We started the academy back in 2016, but before then we actually started our commercial arm, which is called Global Air Media. So we first got into the drone industry, of course, like other entrepreneurs here. There's so many applications in so many different industries. We wanted to be one of the first on the ground floor. So we did our proper research before getting into the industry and we were providing services in the real estate field for construction site mapping, for other uses as well. And we realized that the industry really wasn't going to grow unless more people generally understood about drone technology, and not just using drones for cool pictures and video, but how to use drones to save lives.

Eno Umoh:
So once we understood the power of education when it comes to the industry, we really decided to dive head first into the industry. We started the academy to reach youth and adults, to of course teach the youth about drone technology, but we relate it more to STEAM: education, science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. And then for adults, we focus on industry-specific training and really empowering them to become licensed — so they can also start their businesses as well. So that's, some of the things that we do here at the academy.

Dominique Gebru:
Amazing, thank you so much. Why drones? What got you interested in drones to begin with?

Eno Umoh:
Yeah, so I think at the time I was really just looking for a career change, to be honest. I realized I wasn't as passionate about my former line of work, but I did have some experience in the construction field, project management, and what have you. I just didn't really feel like that was my passion or my calling. So once I of course picked up a drone for the first time, I was just blown away with the capabilities and really you could become a cinematic filmmaker in a matter of minutes putting the drone up, so that drew me in. Once I was able to figure out how to actually put a business together that was really impactful as well. So I've always just been into tech and innovation and I think it was a matter of timing as well. But it just was a matter of picking the drones at that point.

Dominique Gebru:
That's really cool. And actually up until moments ago when you mentioned that your company will fly around construction sites, it didn't really occur to me. I'm very new to drones as a field. And it didn't really occur to me that there was a practical application for project monitoring.

Eno Umoh:
Yeah. Construction sites. So one of the main things that we do is, we create 2D and 3D models of these large project areas. The issue is a lot of the project managers, they use Google Earth and Google Maps, which can be outdated and they use satellite imagery, which is very low resolution compared to what you can get with drones. So we fly the drones, they perform certain missions. We actually have software that stitches the images that we take — stitch it together to create 2D and 3D models. So the project managers are able to see in real time what's going on on their site. Stakeholders who may not even be in the city or state can also see right then and there what's going on the site. So tremendous for progress updates and real time mapping.

Dominique Gebru:
That's incredible. I'd love to hear a little bit more about your work with young people. At the FAA we know that the aerospace industry really is growing at a rapid rate, especially with new branches of the industry, like drones. Why do you feel it's so important to teach young people about the world of drones?

Eno Umoh:
I would say one of the real reasons we got into the industry is because we realized that it's such a new technology to us, the adults who are using this. The next generation really are going to be the ones who take it to the next level and see problems that are in the world. And they are gonna be the ones that put together the solution to find it. Another big reason was, we saw that a lot of these youth were getting the same type of drones that professionals are using on a daily basis, but they weren't also being trained to the level that the professionals need to be trained. So if it's for Christmas or birthdays and we have Phantom Force that the students and youth are getting. How do we make sure that they also are receiving the training that they need to know how high you should fly or you shouldn't be flying over people? So some of the basic rules and regulations.

Eno Umoh:
And then also, with the licensing — you only have to be 16 years old to get your full FAA certification. So knowing about the industry, knowing the benefits of it, that starts at a young age. So we go as young as eight, normally in our classes. Again, we always say it's bigger than drones, of course it's drone-focused, but we really just want them to learn skills that they can use outside of drones altogether. We really ultimately want them to get a career in STEAM. That's essentially our goal.

Dominique Gebru:
That's amazing. And so, as part of your curriculum, are you teaching how to build a drone? Do you get into like the engineering of it? Are you sort of touching on entrepreneur skills or entrepreneurial business skills?

Eno Umoh:
Yeah. All the above. So we do coding and programming. We use the DJI Tello a lot for our workshops, and then students are able to learn from scratch general block coding, Python, Java. So it really is a tremendous classroom tool for them to get those skills under. And then of course drone building: it's not enough to just know how to fly the drone, but how they're put together, when the drone crashes, how to fix it. So you don't have to send it off to out of the country to whatever manufacturer. So these are definitely the skills and then we also of course do entrepreneurship training as well.

Eno Umoh:
So we have the students work on their own business plans, where they're actually able to, conceptualize a drone idea, come up with a problem statement, a solution, work as a team to really put the plans together. And then we always have them present to their peers, to their group about their project. And it's just a really awesome time for the kids to come together and work as a team. And they're doing something really practical. I mean, you'd be surprised how many kids don't even understand how to put together a business, so going through an exercise like this really helps bring it home and makes it real for them.

Dominique Gebru:
I think that it's incredible the breadth of information that you're working with, with these young people, it's so important. What's it like working with such a diverse group of students from around the world? Because you're not just working with students who are based in the U.S. right?

Eno Umoh:
Correctly, we've conducted workshops in nine different countries around the world. A lot of our work has been done in partnership with the U.S. State Department, with the various embassies that we have in each of those countries. But yeah, it's honestly incredible to be able to work with students from different continents. Most of these students, they know about drones, they've at least seen a drone. They've seen someone flying a drone. It's not totally brand new to them. But what makes our program different is, as I've mentioned, we have a commercial side of the business as well. So we bring those real world experiences into the classroom. And the students just want to learn more about how drones are being used in the real world. So for instance, last year, once everything started to shut down for COVID, we ran a free program online every Wednesday, it was called the Virtual Drone Club.

Eno Umoh:
And we would have students calling in from Nigeria, Kenya, of course here in the U.S. I think I saw UK, it was there quite a bit. And it was the same time, same place every week. So to have students interacting with each other and we would say: "Hey, what country are you from?" and everybody would put up their country. And so, that type of interaction is priceless in my opinion, again, and to be able to teach them something tangible on top of that, it just means everything to us.

Dominique Gebru:
Your passion definitely shines through. Eno, what's the best part of your job?

Eno Umoh:
I would say the best part of the job is to really just wake up and do what I love to do. We tell students all the time, follow your passion, when you are deciding what you want to do in life. I was 28, when I finally decided to start this company. So your passion may not come, until later on. But once you do find it, stick to it. And they say "When you do what you love, you'll essentially never work a day in your life." And I love to just get up and it's an awesome job to be able to just fly drones and talk about drones all day. It's pretty cool. So on top of that we get to travel. Some of the places I've been to, I never thought that I would be able to even go to, let alone now working there and being able to impact the community. So definitely the travel, the fact that I love what I do. I mean, those are big factors and regardless of the situation, we're always happy to do what we do.

Dominique Gebru:
Can you tell us about any memorable standout classroom moments where you notice your students having an "aha" moment?

Eno Umoh:
Yes, definitely. We do see a lot of that with our business plan competitions that we do and having them go through that process. But I can remember definitely there was a workshop, one of our first workshops that we did back in 2016 at a summer camp. And one of the students, at the end of the camp, they said: "When I came here, I wanted to be a nurse and after going through the program now I want to be an engineer." So that was just mind blowing to us that they were able to take that experience and figure out on their own this is actually what I want to do. I like building things, I like putting it together and seeing it fly.

Eno Umoh:
That's why we do this: we want to inspire them, encourage them to look into STEAM careers and we're just using drones as a way to do that. We get feedback all the time and of course, I consider us still a new company, we're about five years old now, but soon enough, we're going to really see where these students end up and what type of careers they choose. So if one decides to start their own drone business, I'd be happy from that. We're very optimistic about the future, for sure.

Dominique Gebru:
Eno, thank you so much for taking some time to talk with us today. Before we go, is there anything else that you'd like to share with our listeners?

Eno Umoh:
If you want to find out more about us you can visit our website. We're at globalairdroneacademy.org, and then you can just search Global Air Drone Academy on any of the major social platforms. And you'll definitely find us and reach out to us if you want to learn about something or a subject. We get inquiries all the time from schools and parents and even kids wondering how they can take advantage off all the classes as well. Any entrepreneur will tell you, you have to just stay committed, stay optimistic, and the work is out there, but drones are here to stay. They're not going anywhere and we want to help just develop it. So just encouraging everyone to keep going.

Dominique Gebru:
Drones are definitely here to stay. Thank you so much. This was an amazing conversation.

Eno Umoh:
Thank you. Yeah. Thanks for having me and yeah so great to partner with you all.

Allen Kenitzer:
Eno's words were incredibly inspiring and it's clear that he's passionate about his work. If there are other educators out there interested in learning more about drones for education purposes, we have resources on our website. We'll link that information in this week's show notes.

Dominique Gebru:
We hope that today's episode got your wheels turning. And that's our show.

Allen Kenitzer:
You can stay up to date on all things drone by following the FAA's drone Twitter and Facebook pages at FAAdronezone.

Dominique Gebru:
The Air Up There is a podcast from the Federal Aviation Administration. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe and share it with someone else. Maybe you can be like Eno and help introduce a young person to the exciting world of drones.

Allen Kenitzer:
Thanks for listening.