Exploring this Job
Keep up with what's going on in the drone engineering field by reading publications such as UAVSA Drones Daily (http://news.uavsa.org). If you know someone who owns a drone, ask if you can use it to learn how it operates. You can also buy your own small drone and study how it works. Get an internship or summer job with a company that has drone engineering services. This will give you the opportunity to work with people in the field and make connections that can be valuable for future employment. Get involved in a professional association for engineers and engineering students, such as the Technology Student Association (https://tsaweb.org). Participate in competitions to hone your skills and meet others who share the same interests. Here are a few competitions to check out:
- The Drobots Company Aerial Robotics National Drone Competition: https://drobotscompany.com/drone-stem-competition-grades-1-12-high-school-kids-teens
- The Collegiate Drone Racing Association: www.collegiatedrone racingassociation.com
Drone engineers plan and design unmanned aircraft systems for various industries beyond the armed forces. They work for government agencies, construction companies, engineering firms, manufacturers, research groups, agriculture, computer science research groups, and more. They read blueprints, technical drawings, and schematics, and research and design machinery, equipment, and operating systems for unmanned aircraft. They work independently and also as part of a team, conferring frequently with other engineers and project members to gather technical information, discuss engineering designs, and troubleshoot any design and operational problems as they arise.
Drone engineers use computers and software programs to plan and design drones. They use analytical or scientific software, computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, and graphics or photo imaging software. They develop methods of and protocols for testing and documenting drone systems and operations. The job also entails documenting the progress of their work, keeping project schedules, and creating budgets and reporting on costs.
Their daily work activities involve reading technical documents so that work can be planned, designing drone systems or equipment according to project specifications, and evaluating the characteristics of the drones. Drone engineers are in frequent contact with their supervisors, team members, and clients, via e-mail, telephone, and in-person meetings, keeping everyone up to date on the status of the work and discussing and resolving any issues that present themselves.