Together with committed partners from the National Center for Autonomous Technologies at Northland Community and Technical College, CASERM has developed a vibrant program that trains the next generation of pilots of unmanned aircraft systems for the minerals industry. In mineral exploration, unmanned aircraft systems are used for land surveying, hyperspectral remote sensing, and airborne geophysical data collection. Unmanned aircraft systems are also increasingly used in the monitoring of pit walls and underground workings. To meet the critical workforce needs of the minerals industry, this program provides advanced research and technology skills to community college students, with an emphasis on students from traditionally underrepresented groups as well as veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. The training program is partially support by the Skills Training in Advanced Research & Technology (START) opportunity of the National Science Foundation.

Field training of community college students at Salmon River, Idaho (May 2022)

In May 2022, the CASERM research team and Western Colorado Community College teamed up to conduct field training of community college students in piloting unmanned aerial systems at Salmon River in Idaho. The project focused on the acquisition of hyperspectral data to constrain mineralogical gradients around cobalt deposits in the Idaho Cobalt Belt. Cobalt is an important critical element that is highly sought after for battery production. The acquired data support ongoing research in the Idaho Cobalt Belt by the Idaho Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey.