Meet the Two Winners of Our 2023 Drone Technology College Scholarship

BY Zacc Dukowitz
12 July 2023

Today we are excited to announce the two winners of our sixth annual Drone Technology College Scholarship.

We launched the scholarship in 2018 to provide financial support to college students who demonstrate an interest in pushing the drone industry forward.

Each scholarship winner will receive $1,000 to support their college studies. Keep reading to meet the winners and read their award-winning essays.

[Did you know? We also offer scholarships for high school students that provide free access to Drone Pilot Ground School to help students prepare for the Part 107 test and cover the $175 FAA exam fee.]


Our 2023 Drone Technology College Scholarship Winners

The Drone Technology College Scholarship is for current or rising college students who demonstrate an interest in pushing the drone industry forward. High school seniors are eligible to apply.

Scholarship winners are selected based primarily on the quality of their essays.

Here are the three essay topics applicants had to choose from this year:

  • How Drones Can Be Used to Do Good
  • How Drones Will Change Our World Over the Next Ten Years
  • How Drones Can Be Used for STEM Education

Now let’s get to the winners!

Carson Yinger

Essay Topic: How Drones Can Be Used to Do Good

Here is Carson’s essay:

I chose ‘How drones can be used for good’ as the question I was answering because that is part of the mission statement of the club I started at my college (Embry-Riddle). Our mission is “to become better UAS pilots through experience in real-world scenarios in order to promote UAS as an asset to improve our community.” I started that club with my friend and fellow UAS major with the intention of helping our fellow UAS major students gain flight time pertinent to real world applications, as well as showing our Prescott, AZ community how drones are being used for good.

As a club we are currently working with our local United States Forest Service Office (Prescott National Forest Office) to help them determine the effectiveness of controlled burns by measuring how much vegetation is burned before and after controlled burns. Wildfires are a cause of so much destruction, especially in the small town of Prescott, Arizona where we honor the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew that gave their lives helping defend the town nearly 10 years ago. Using drones to help reduce the risk of wildfires from a research perspective has been the main reason I started the club.

With the Ukrainian war, and with drones being more developed for wartime applications, we have seen time and time again how drones can be used in war and this has invoked a bad stigma around them, especially in the older retirement community of Prescott, AZ. It is so important to show how they are being used for good. A few of the many ways drones do good include saving lives, saving money, and improving safety, among many other things.

Saving Lives

Everyone has seen all over the news, TV shows, movies, and social media how drones have taken lives but what isn’t as spoken about is how drones are used to save lives through methods such as medical delivery. Companies like Zipline use drones to get life saving medical supplies to people in remote areas such as parts of Africa. They can deliver anything from defibrillators to organs that help save people’s lives that otherwise would not be possible. There are indirect ways that drones help save lives as well by recreating crime scenes to help catch criminals. Using photogrammetry and aerial surveillance, police can recreate a crime scene from the air to help with the investigation process. Another way police use drones for good is by pursuing armed criminals with drones to keep police safe from getting shot. Firefighters also use drones, since they are especially effective in wildland firefighting where danger is prevalent. One company I interned for last Summer used a VTOL drone with EO and IR camera to spot ‘hotspots,’ which are little fires that appear miles off main wildfires and are extremely dangerous because they can trap firefighters and also leap natural barriers such as rivers to keep the wildfire spreading. These are just a few of the many ways drones help save lives and keep us safe from both natural disasters and human intervention.

Saving Money

Drones save people money all the time in nearly every business type. In construction, drones using photogrammetry can save companies thousands of dollars by getting a near exact measurement of how much dirt is in a pile. This saves them money by not over buying, or under buying material.

They also are used on construction sites by creating a georeferenced orthomosaic that allows measurements to be taken digitally that are very accurate (as long as a certified surveyor ensures everything is done correctly, of course). Not to mention the time that is saved by using drones, which in turn saves a ton of money as well.

Drones in agriculture on a small scale are helping automate farming to save a lot of money and provide ample food to be grown. Drones can now identify crops that have diseases, too much or too little water, or diagnose a ton of different problems crops may be facing through multispectral
imagery, and fix the problem or identify the area for a farmer to fix, which makes their lives way easier and have a more fruitful harvest.

Improving Safety

Mitigating risk and improving safety has always been something drones have been exceptionally good at. Having eyes in the sky to watch for criminals and gain situational awareness is extremely helpful to reduce crimes before they happen, as well as accidents.

Everyone has heard of people smuggling drugs into prisons, but there have also been plenty of accounts where criminals are spotted before they commit the crime, or using the drones to help track down and pursue the criminals. The more information that is put out about these new tools, the more deterred criminals will be from stealing.

Drones are an extremely valuable tool that is saving everyone who utilizes them time and money but due to their previous more boisterous applications there is a negative stigma surrounding them.

With more and more of the drone community speaking out, volunteering, and demonstrating drones’ fantastic uses, we will remove that negative stigma and reveal drones for what they really are, a time saving, life saving, and money saving tool.

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Bio—Carson Yinger

I grew up in a small, tight-knit community where everyone showed up for the Friday night football games to support the team. I played football and basketball in highschool and I had plenty of other kids that were better than me but this taught me how to adapt to fill my role in the sport, even if it wasn’t glamorous. Growing up in a small town, I learned how important community is for supporting you through the highs and lows of life. That’s why I have always made it a priority to benefit my community and give back. That is what drove me to create the UAS Community Operations club to combine my skills as a leader, with my colleagues’ and I’s experience with drones, to benefit our wildfire-ridden community in any way we can. Our research into how effective controlled burns are for preventing wildfires is just the first step in how my club is benefiting my community.

I am a standing senior who will graduate in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Science in Unmanned Aircraft Systems from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Whatever job I end up with, whether that be aerial firefighting with Bridger Aerospace (my sophomore year internship) or performing inspections with Cargill (this year’s internship) I will continue to benefit my community and the drone community as a whole through enforcement of best practices and not compromising on safety. I will continue to explore innovative new ways that drones can be used, which is why I have so much interest in them, because they are a fascinating new tool being used for the good of our country, and world as a whole.

Roger Przybyla

Essay Topic: How Drones Will Change Our World Over the Next Ten Years

In 1990 if you asked how the internet would change our lives over the next ten years it would have been all but impossible to predict the true magnitude of the paradigm shift. The same is true today for drones. Drone technology is evolving rapidly and soon we will witness a prolific expanse of their use. No one can say for sure exactly what drones will be doing in ten years but we can make some educated guesses.

Drones will be as ubiquitous as pigeons. They will be flying through the sky in the thousands. All small to medium deliveries will be done through drones. People think Instacart is convenient but imagine a world where there are strategically placed warehouses that service square miles with anything you can imagine. We’re not talking one-hour delivery but 15 minutes or less for almost anything you desire. A result of the fall of “brick and mortar” stores will be a blessing. Cheaper prices as maintaining a store is costly. Greater selection because they can warehouse goods in shelving going up five or more stories. All accessible easily from drones. Inventory, picking, and transport all done by drones. It will be a shopper’s paradise.

Transportation will not be recognizable. Drone taxis will fly though the sky carrying people to and from there destinations ten times faster than cars. As a result, those who still decide to drive will find the road empty. This will help alleviate pollution, noise, and reliance on fossil fuels. Every time you step into a drone taxi you will take in a view we can only see from a plane. It will be amazing but eventually people won’t even realize how special it is.

Emergency services will be revolutionized as we move into the autonomous age. Drones will respond to all simple 911 calls and decide if a real-life officer is needed. Criminal pursuits will be done with drones, keeping our police safer. Burning buildings will be entered, scanned, and searched all by drone. If a victim is found inside, the exact location can be sent to firefighters along with the safest route. Fires themselves can be fought using larger drones that will still hook to the city water but give firefighters a 360-degree angle on the fire allowing them to attack it from land and the air. Medics will fly to their call in a large drone, getting there in minutes regardless of the location or terrain. Search and rescue will consist of thousands of drones working as a swarm to scour thousands of square miles, night and day, with a hundred percent accuracy in a fraction of the time humans could.

The places we visit will change. No longer will we be bound by roads and the beaten path. The world will open up to us as drone range and payloads continue to increase. We will find new special places to visit that people haven’t been to in centuries. It will allow us to feel like the explorers of old, going places that today would take an expedition. All from the comfort and safety of our drone vehicles.

One thing that has already changed and will lead the pack in drone technology is war. We will see an ever-increasing use of militarized drones for scouting, spying, and eventually fighting. It will be drones that fight the wars of the future, and humans will be the spoils. While these predictions might seem glum it’s a stark reminder of why we must maintain the cutting edge in drone technology. It is essential to our safety to realize and accept drones’ place in our future and embrace them.

Drones will change everything. What we see today is just the tip of the iceberg. We will be so inundated with drones in the future that any jobs made obsolete will be replaced tenfold. We must not let people hold back the tide. I know many people worry about safety concerns and other
issues with drone regulation. We must deal with these now and keep our country on the front lines when it comes to drones. Drones will change the world over the next decade. It’s up to us to decide whether it’s for the best or worst.

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Bio—Roger Przybyla

My name is Roger Przybyla and I’m studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Nevada Reno. I was one of the first electrical engineers that were elected for the new drones’ emphasis in my program. This will set us up on a path to work in the ever-growing drone field. I graduated from Reno High School at the top of my class. I have a 3.8 GPA at UNR and will graduate in May 2024. I plan to continue my education once I graduate and have applied at MIT for their Autonomous Systems program.

I love drones. I have been flying and building them for years. This last semester I started the UNR Drone Club to help increase interest in STEM with the use of drones. We have about five full members and 12 participants. They come from all majors but love the creative problem solving that comes from working on drones. I hope to segue this and my master’s degree into a career in drone development.

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