Innovation Center’s Aeronautics Program Receives Grant to Implement LiDAR Technology

Two students holding up a small airplane build kit that is halfway completed.

The Innovation Center’s Aeronautics program has been granted a remarkable opportunity to further enhance its curriculum. With a commitment to staying relevant and preparing students for the best career prospects, the program has continually invested in new technology and equipment. This summer, the program secured a $60,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation to acquire and implement a cutting-edge LiDAR system, a highly precise remote sensing tool. This addition will provide students with the opportunity to learn and work with state-of-the-art technology while collaborating with real-world clients.

Axel Reitzig, Executive Director of Innovation, expressed his enthusiasm for the grant and the inclusion of LiDAR technology, stating, “We are thrilled to receive this grant and bring LiDAR into our Aeronautics program. This advanced technology will provide our students with unparalleled opportunities to explore autonomous flight missions and work on projects for industry partners, preparing them for the future of aviation and aeronautics.”

Since its expansion into aeronautics programming in 2017, the Innovation Center has witnessed exponential growth. Beginning with a small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) after-school program, the aeronautics pathway has evolved to offer two distinct tracks: a UAS pathway comprising five courses and a pilot pathway consisting of six courses. These pathways have attracted a significant enrollment of approximately 394 students projected for the upcoming 2023-24 academic year.

LiDAR technology has rapidly gained prominence in industries such as construction, mining, forestry, natural sciences, land management, conservation, and mapping due to its exceptional precision and accuracy. By incorporating LiDAR into the curriculum, the Innovation Center ensures that its students are well-prepared for the future, where LiDAR is expected to become the gold standard for mapping. With the grant funding, students will not only learn to program autonomous flight missions using LiDAR but will also have the opportunity to collaborate with clients like FCI Construction, gaining real-world experience and insights. By integrating this cutting-edge technology into the Aeronautics program, students will be at the forefront of industry advancements, gaining hands-on experience and developing skills that will set them apart in their careers.

St. Vrain Valley Schools