When setting up a Development of Curriculum Model, or DACUM, instructors will write out a collection of all the skills they hope to teach their students through the course of their degree. DACUMs can be particularly helpful in identifying what should be included in UAS training programs and can also be used as a reference point to identify areas where an operator’s skills are lacking. It can also be used as an exercise to determine where the UAS industry can expand into other markets. A good example of a DACUM which was also used as a basis for our versions can be seen here.
Last week one of my UAS Professors, Dr. Hupy, asked our UAS class to collaboratively create a new DACUM with all the skills we know currently and the skills we wish we had learned during the course of our degree. This brainstorming session ultimately created this document. The DACUM we created is divided into three sections which cover current and future UAS industry trends, UAS critical skills and knowledge, and the key duties of a UAS technician.
Starting with the current and future trends section, we have many different areas which the UAS industry can expand. This section has the main purpose of showing where UAS is and where it is headed in the near future along with some of the technologies that will get it there. Some of these areas such as railroad inspection and swarm technology have been around for some time now while others like autonomous delivery are considered cutting edge technology. Having the knowledge of where the industry is going can be incredibly helpful to a company when making business decisions and should be assessed often.
Continuing further, the UAS critical skills and knowledge section highlights areas which a UAS pilot should be proficient. These skills are the bare minimum of what is required for an operator or company to be successful. Areas which the operator is not proficient present a weakness if the company lacks another individual to pick up the slack. Each individual will have areas of strengths and weaknesses and it is important for the individual and company to be aware of this. Purdue has done a good job at educating the topics involving aviation, regulations, and operations but has so far been lacking in the data analysis side. Future classes however will likely improve on this.
The final section, UAS technician key duties, defines what a UAS operator must do in any job. Some of these, like getting weather data, are rather simple to perform while others require more attention to detail and skill. A frequently overlooked task in small UAS companies is the proper use of record keeping. In the world of manned aviation, record keeping is done on every flight, every inspection, every repair, and many other actions that could be considered necessary to operate the aircraft. UAS companies are beginning to realize the value of this information when doing maintenance of their systems and identifying persistent issues. This along with proper data management are very important to UAS operations and should never be overlooked.