Imagine applying the rapid advancement of drone technology to guide the future of aviation.

That’s the opportunity for graduates of Griffith University’s new cutting-edge Electronic and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Engineering (UAV) major, according to Associate Professor Steven O’Keefe.

The head of electronic engineering at Griffith’s Nathan campus says the major is offered at arguably the most fertile period in the development of UAV technology.

Available through the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at Griffith’s Nathan campus, the UAV major offers students the chance to graduate as qualified electronics engineers and certified drone pilots, ready to design and fly the unmanned aircraft of tomorrow.

“Graduates will be equipped to develop advanced new aircraft and systems, as well as the applications they’re put to,” says Steven.

“And UAV design and application will continue to evolve with greater navigational capabilities, greater autonomous ability and artificial intelligence, longer endurance and greater payloads.”

Steven says UAVs–more commonly known as drones–have been quickly adopted by industries and enterprises as diverse as:

Engineering student Monique Quirk

During her engineering degree at Griffith, Monique Quirk completed an industry placement with GHD, where she investigated using drones and laser scanning technology to monitor the integrity of bridges in South East Queensland.

  • agriculture, where drones are used for farm management issues such as water requirements, pest control, topographical mapping, disease monitoring and yield management
  • entertainment, with film, TV, concerts and events now routinely filmed by drones, even indoors
  • search and rescue, including searching for lost people or lifesavers applying UAVs to monitor swimmers and sharks
  • industrial inspection, where UAV application is a cheaper and safer option for routine inspections of power lines, wind turbines and bridges
  • defence and law enforcement, including applications such as police surveillance and armed drone aircraft, through to finger-sized aircraft carried in a soldier’s pocket
  • scientific research, including environmental monitoring, atmospheric science and pest monitoring
  • medical deliveries in disaster zones and remote developing countries.

“The list goes on and on as more amazingly sophisticated UAV payloads are developed,” says Steven.

“They’re currently experimenting with flying UAVs underground in mines.”

The major equips graduates with leading-edge electronic engineering expertise and includes avionics courses from Griffith’s School of Engineering.

“Graduates’ combined skillset in aviation, avionics and UAV design will allow them to master design of task-specific aircraft, or development of new technologies or applications,” says Steven.

Find out more about studying engineering and information technology at Griffith.