MCSC SkySkills is set to take off with new industry-specific drone training

Posted: September 26, 2023

Reading time: 4 minute(s)
woman holding drone remote controller

MCSC SkySkills is set to take off with new industry-specific drone training

When surveying potential and current construction sites around Manitoba, drones can go just about anywhere most people cannot. That’s according to Bird Construction’s Roxanne Gross, Virtual Design & Construction Coordinator (pictured above). Part of her role is to use drones to capture important data and provide visual progress updates about construction projects. Busy at work at a construction site in Neepawa, Gross took a few minutes out of her schedule to explain why drone technology is the future of the construction industry.

“Drones become useful to capture a job site where the human eye cannot see the progress,” explains Gross. “Drones allow us to be able to capture the entire site very quickly and efficiently — with one device.” The drone is controlled by a radio transmitter controller, which has a screen that displays and records everything it’s seeing in real time. This information allows construction crews to understand everything that’s going on a fast-moving and active construction site.

The drone recording facilitates many useful features, including a process called photogrammetry. That’s where a special software plots out a specific flightpath to capture images with consistent overlap, then compiles the images and uses them to triangulate points. These points are then plotted in a 3D environment to provide analysis on what might be the most efficient strategies to develop a site.

Citing the project in Neepawa, Gross explains further, “On a large project like this, where the land used to be a farm field and was undeveloped, we’re able to do cut and fill analysis and calculations and review any excavation for the project.” And that’s just one example of drone technology application in construction says Gross, “Projects that are inaccessible by foot, such as power dams or bridges, can really benefit from this technology. Being able to capture any project with this tool is very beneficial because you get to go in areas typically difficult to get to without a drone.”

While drone technology isn’t necessarily brand new, the advancement in its innovation is taking off rapidly, says Carol Paul, Manitoba Construction Sector Council’s (MCSC) long-time Executive Director. “We’re hearing from early adopters in the construction industry in Manitoba that drone technology is quite literally a game changer. Drones save time and money, and they assist with scoping out any potential danger before crews develop construction sites, especially in rural settings.”

In fact, drone technology is becoming a significant competitive advantage for construction companies investing in the equipment and training for operators. Officially called MCSC SkySkills, MCSC is developing drone training with industry facilitators to advance adoption.

“We’re hearing more from leaders of construction companies that they need to get onboard with drone technology and that they need the support to bring the resource in-house, and that’s why we’re excited to meet ,” says Paul.

MCSC SkySkills is a 30-to-40-hour micro-credential course developed by Critical Ops, a firm led by Chelsea Treboniak. The training will cover three core steps: Introduction to Drone Basics, Practical Application, and a practicum. A special thanks to Colleen Munro, Munro Group for opening the quarry in Lilyfield for the drone course practicum.  Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) development and integration are rapidly progressing. As technology improves, opportunities for implementation into daily protocols increases exponentially for all kinds of projects in the construction industry. Increased opportunities for UAS usage require a robust training regimen for customers and users. Additionally, safe integration into the existing aviation community is paramount.

According to Paul, the MCSC SkySkills course, while not intended to replace operator certification protocols, is designed specifically for the needs of the construction industry. “It has been demonstrated that UAS technology is vital in future construction concepts. UAS technology can improve safety for participating and non-participating personnel while cutting costs, improving efficiency, and minimizing environmental impact. Students and practitioners completing this course will be well-suited to join the construction community by providing these added efficiencies and safety protocols through remotely piloted vehicles.”

Meanwhile for Gross, she looks forward to seeing more people like her elevating their career options and supporting the construction industry in Manitoba thanks to drone technology, and advance training options such as the MCSC . “I personally enjoy it. I see the value of having this type of technology on the job site. Throughout my career in the industry, I’ve been able to see the progression with this type of technology, being able to use it in a valuable way where we’re cutting time and documentation on site…it can be done with a quick shot now with the drone being available to our site team.”

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MCSC SkySkills is set to take off with new industry-specific drone training


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