African Drone and Data Academy graduates first students
The African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) has graduated its first students in March at a ceremony in Malawi, enabling them to build and operate drones and analyze the data from them.
The students are now licensed drone pilots by the government of Malawi, are certified AUVSI Trusted Operator Program Level 2 pilots, and have the skills needed to enter the drone and data analytics workforce, according to ADDA.
"This is just the commencement of great things from us," graduate Anne Nderitu, a student from Kenya, said at the graduation. "We have received world-class knowledge in the drone technology, and it is upon to use it to use this knowledge to lead an create a better Africa."
In partnership with UNICEF, Virginia Tech and the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) helped open ADDA in Lilongwe, Malawi, to provide a new generation of students with drone, data and entrepreneurship skills.
Virginia Tech had previously provided training workshops in Malawi and was tapped by UNICEF to manage the academy. In 2017, UNICEF also launched the first humanitarian drone corridor in Malawi to provide a controlled environment for governments, aid organizations, industry and universities to explore how drones could help deliver services in remote areas.
ADDA's initial training was a 12-week course to develop expertise in using drones for humanitarian, development and commercial purposes. By 2022, ADDA plans to have a two-year master's degree program in drone technology, in conjunction with MUST.
More than half of the inaugural class are women with undergraduate degrees in science, technology or engineering.
"Drones and data can really help with ... building sustainable cities and sustainable economies," Brian Kamamia, ADDA project manager, said at the graduation. "You have the necessary skill that you need to make a difference in your community and help the next generation do the same thing."
To see the full ceremony, go here.
Below: ADDA students Hope Chilunga (left) and Anne Nderitu attach a sensor to a drone. Photo: UNICEF/Moving Minds Multimedia