In February 2017 4-VA at JMU hosted VIRTUES II, which focused on one of the primary needs identified at VIRTUES I in 2016—strategic coordination between academia and industry.
The Thursday evening reception opened with remarks by President Jonathan Alger and SCHEV Higher Education Innovation Director Wendy Kang and offered an opportunity for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) faculty and industry professionals to network.
On Friday, speakers from the UAV industry expressed interest in hiring graduates with more than just technical skills, including competence in communication, discernment, critical thinking and problem solving. Curriculum speakers talked about the need for industry partnerships, facility access, class scenarios and funding.
After small group discussions, the 70 participants reconvened to listen to a panel of faculty and students who were part of the Virginia Drones Project—a class of cross-disciplinary teams that prototyped solutions to social and environmental challenges using UAVs. During the course, students had to familiarize themselves with the technical aspects of UAV use and operation, as well as learn to use technologies such as 3-D printers to produce attachments that expand the UAVs’ functionality to tackle various problems. The panel recounted various challenges as they navigated the course which pushed them to develop proficiencies in areas unfamiliar to most students.