After meeting as a class over the past few weeks, it became apparent that we would all get the most out of the capstone project by working as a class to produce one large paper that covers everyone’s interests. We decided that we would focus our efforts on mapping the local Tippecanoe County Amphitheater Park to gather as much data as possible. This area has a relatively large amount of elevation change which will be helpful if we decide to do any drainage modeling of the park. It also has a parking lot, several forests, and a few large grass fields. Since the park lies on the edge of the Wabash River, it has a border that is prone to flooding during the spring months when the snow melts. The study will be done with several platforms and sensors including an M600, M100, and C-ASTRAL Bramor ppX carrying multispectral, RGB, and thermal cameras and LiDAR scanners. No official plans have been made yet on what to do with the data gathered but we will be flying as often as possible with the highest resolutions possible.
After we decided on a location, we had to start planning out our roles within the team. Every team needs a leader to keep track of the progress of the team, and this can be especially important in a project this large. The project manager will be in charge of setting deadlines and communicating the progress to Dr. Hupy who will be the faculty adviser for the project. We chose to assign this position to Thomas since he was eager to learn more about leading a team.
Working with the project manager is the operations manager. This individual is responsible for scheduling the flights for the project and assigning tasks to other team members. If there are any disagreements on what documents are needed for an aircraft or mission, this individual can act as a mediator to resolve the disagreement. Kyle Sheehan was assigned this position.
With a project as large as this with many people contributing, it will become very important for the final paper to have consistent formatting. The lead author is in charge of merging the documents created by other members of the team and has the final authority of how the paper is written. Krysta Rolle volunteered for this position because of her previous experience writing technical documentation.
This project will have a lot of data gathered over the course of the semester. To draw conclusions from the data, someone will have to process the imagery after each flight. It was very apparent who would best fit this role of data manager. Evan Hockridge has been doing data processing for some time and was more than happy to fill this role. He will be responsible for developing workflows for data management, processing, and archival of old information. Since data processing takes time, each of the other members of the team will rotate through a team lead by him to assist in the data processing.
Since several different aerial platforms will be used for gathering different types of data, a systems integrator position is needed to install sensors on each of the aircraft. The position will require a deep understanding of the operating components of the aircraft and the limitations of each component. Additional responsibilities include the repair and maintenance of aircraft should an accident occur, creation of documentation and checklists for each aircraft, and charging batteries. Since this position has so many responsibilities and can very quickly halt the entire operation, the position is shared between myself and Ian Wiley. Flight operations will be happening very frequently, so this position may also rotate additional members if time requirements make it necessary.
To reduce load on the systems integrators when teaching other team members, an additional position of lead pilot & flight instructor was created. This individual will receive direct training from the systems integration team on how to use each of the aircraft and will then train the rest of the team how to use the aircraft. The lead pilot is also responsible for determining the flight proficiency of each of their team members and communicates this information directly with the operations manager for flight planning. This position may be a rotating position but the first assigned lead pilot will be Todd Horn.
The final position in the team is the geospatial crew leader. This individual will be primarily responsible for leading a small team to survey ground control points at each of the locations using RTK GPS. Some of the flights may also require the use of Aeropoints which will need to be retrieved after each flight. It is the responsibility of this individual to create a procedure for collecting each of the ground control points through the use of both Aeropoints and RTK GPS. The decision was made to assign this role to Dylan McQueen.
These positions only list the “static roles” of each member. Each one was created because they may be confusing or harmful if team members who lacked the required skill sets were rotated through them. Each person will also rotate through a set of secondary roles such as flight crew or data processing assistant. These positions use more broad skills that the majority of the class has developed. There were no static roles as pilots because each member should be able to rotate through the position to gain experience flying.
Another important thing to note is the lack of a “safety officer” position. This is intentional. When a safety officer exists within a team or organization, the other individuals may place the role of safety on that individual and not think of the risks that are being taken. By removing this position, safety in operations and data management becomes the responsibility of each member of the team.
In conclusion, the project currently has the simple goal of gathering as much high quality data as possible using an array of platforms and sensors. Everyone will have a static position that is considered their job permanently and one secondary role that they rotate through. As time goes on and more data is gathered we will find additional goals for the team to achieve.