NEW Workshop!

Location:  Virtual (Zoom)!!!
What: 3-day workshop. Mapping with Drones
Who: Extension agents / specialists, Private industry, Natural resource professionals, Planning professionals, Local/State govt. employees, Public safety professionals, Agricultural operators, Educators, Realtors, Inspection teams, etc.  This is an introductory workshop… No previous experience or knowledge is necessary.
Topic: Mapping with Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)
Online Registration  Online registration is required with a registration fee of $200 (credit card or e-check payments accepted via VT’s secure site).  Note that online registration typically closes 1 month prior to each workshop date.
When*:  This is a 3 day workshop.  Several workshop options are available including:

  • April 27 – 29, 2021  Registration for the April workshop option is closed.
  • August 17-19, 2021  Registration for the August workshop option is closed.
  • October 19-21, 2021 Registration for the October workshop option is closed.
  • December 14-16, 2021
  • January 11-13, 2022

*General agenda: Day #1, 9:00 – 5:00 | Day #2, 9:00 – 5:00 | Day #3, 9:00 – 5:00 with breaks for coffee & lunch

Participant Testimonials:
This was by far one of the best training programs I have attended in my 30+ years of Extension work. The instructors were extremely well prepared and knowledgeable.                         -VCE Agricultural Extension Specialist

This workshop was of tremendous value. The content was all-encompassing and took me as a student from the understanding of bare basics to feeling confident in my ability to take the Part 107 and utilize a drone for mapping purposes…          -Local Government Employee

This workshop was exactly what I needed to help me think through the details of operating a drone with Virginia Tech undergraduates to help support urban temperature mapping in Roanoke. I was primarily interested in learning about how to operate safely, how to identify risks and how to mitigate them, and what kind of equipment would be best for my needs. All of these topics were well-covered in this workshop…                    -Higher Education Faculty member

I am glad to have gained this knowledge as it will make me more professional, a safer sUAS pilot, and almost certainly get longer use out of my drone…                  -Private Sector Employee


Cost: General registration for the 3-day Mapping with Drones Workshop is $200.  Workshop materials & supplies will be mailed to participants.  Since mailing books and other handout material will be mailed to each participant, participants are encouraged to complete the registration process (and payment) at least 1 month in advance of each workshop. Major credit cards or e-check payment options are accepted via Virginia Tech’s secure online system.

Workshop Summary:
Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) are permeating many sectors of industry, and are increasingly being employed as data collection platforms to support of an array of applications. Applications span disciplines and industries and can include: planning, natural resource management, marketing, inspection of structures, agricultural production, permitting, and public safety. Specific sensors can be used to tailor application needs. Flights can be scheduled and conducted under short notice to accommodate weather, and temporal considerations. sUAS operations support efficient workflows and provide opportunities for ‘data on demand’.

This is an intensive, yet introductory level workshop, and can be considered a ‘drone boot camp’. No previous knowledge or experience with drones, sUAS, or GIS is required. This 3-day workshop will provide participants with the following:

  • An understanding of FAA and sUAS lingo;
  • A comprehensive knowledge of current federal commercial sUAS regulations;
  • In-depth discussions of sUAS platforms (fixed wing and multi-rotor), sensors (including true color, NIR, multispectral, thermal), and associated applications;
  • sUAS project workflows, including;
    • Compliance with FAA regulations and safe operation and management practices;
    • An overview of sUAS operation planning software, check sheets, smartphone apps, and other online resources;
    • A comprehensive presentation and demonstration of image processing software techniques and options (image mosaics, NDVI, etc.

Workshop Outcomes

At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will:

  • be prepared to take (and pass) the FAA’s Remote Pilot Knowledge Test (aka Part 107);
  • gain knowledge to identify applications that may be appropriate for sUAS data collection;
  • understand the steps required to plan, conduct, and document a commercial sUAS operation safely and legally;
  • gain knowledge required to identify suitable platforms and sensors to support application needs;
  • generate image mosaics that are compatible with numerous software applications (including GIS, remote sensing, etc.) using drone imagery.

Online registration for the  2021 – 2022 workshops is available via (major credit cards & e-check are accepted).

  • Workshop registration closes 1 month prior to each workshop.
  • After you submit your online registration & payment, you will receive further information about the workshop (login information, etc.).
  • All workshop options are conducted through ZOOM.
  • Workshop material will be mailed to you 3-4  weeks prior to the workshop.
  • Space is limited.
  • Questions associated with the workshop should be directed to John McGee ( or Daniel Cross (

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.
If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact John McGee (307C Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA) at (540) 231-2428 /TDD*or during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations at least 5 days prior to the event.
*TDD number is (800) 828-1120