An Internship Flying Drones, Abroad
On his first day as a PrecisionHawk intern, Trevor Wise got a call to pack his bags and head to the airport. He was needed on a top-secret agriculture project for a leading enterprise company. Trevor said that’s when he knew, “This was not going to be your average internship.”
On his first mission, Trevor monitored aircraft in flight, downloaded critical data, and analyzed images for quality assurance. Throughout the summer, his role grew from collecting data to planning flights and flying drones. Today, he’s a full-time Flight Operations Pilot for PrecisionHawk.
“Within days on the job, I was in the field in a mission-critical role, and my responsibilities grew from there.” Wise said, “Needless to say, I had to learn a lot of information in a short period of time.”
Touring Industries (and the World)
Matt Tompkins serves as Director of Flight Services and oversees the internship program at PrecisionHawk. Tompkins sees Trevor’s experience as not at all unusual. “We have interns that go on missions anywhere from Texas, Florida, California, to foreign countries such as Argentina. They work across several industries, including energy, mining, insurance, and agriculture. Our teams are flying cutting-edge applications for the world’s leading enterprises.”
In fact, Tompkins says variety is the internship’s biggest benefit. PrecisionHawk interns have been sent on missions for oil and gas, patrolling pipelines and monitoring well pads. In agriculture, they’ve measured plant health traits and drainage issues. Engineering missions have included thermal data collection of buildings and mining operations. They’ve flown in airports, government facilities, and manufacturing and data centers.
Using Emerging Technology to Make an Impact
While Tompkins expects a lot from his team, he’s passionate about the experience interns get during their time with PrecisionHawk. New interns are paired with full-time flight pilots and act as official observers. They learn about systems, sensors, applications and process. They see new parts of the country, and potentially even the world. They get exposure to advanced sensors such as thermal, hyperspectral, and LiDAR, as well as top-of-the-line drones ranging from the Phantom 4 Pro to Matrice 100, 200, and 600. Interns receive training in auxiliary equipment, including learning how to run a base station. They also learn software programs used for planning missions, viewing sensor outputs, and conducting flights.
“One of the best things about PrecisionHawk is that our missions make an immediate impact,” Tompkins said. In a recent project, a client was patrolling a pipeline by foot through treacherous terrain. PrecisionHawk teams developed a solution to monitor and patrol the pipeline from the air, saving the client money and potentially even lives.
Trevor Wise agrees that his work at PrecisionHawk is making a difference. Raised on a farm in Indiana, Wise was struck by the ways drone technology has revolutionized agriculture. Amongst other advancements, advanced sensors are now able to estimate the level of nitrogen in plants and identify drainage issues. During his summer internship, his team instructed a company on how to improve yield and crop quality. “I can see how drones are transforming farming, and it’s amazing,” Wise said. “It makes farm management more precise.”
Making the Most of a Flight Operations Internship
Wise felt the field experience was invaluable in making him ready for a full-time career in unmanned aircraft systems, especially given the profile of the clientele he serviced. He credits his internship with giving him the knowledge and confidence to make an immediate impact in his role as a full-time Flight Operations Pilot. “There’s a big difference between talking about drone technology in the classroom and experiencing it. Things come up in the field, and you need to think on your feet. I was fortunate to gain real-world experience before graduating college,” Wise said. “Ultimately, my internship is what landed me a full-time career in unmanned aircraft systems.”
Tompkins encourages his interns to ask questions and reach out to experts within the company. “One of the great benefits of becoming an intern at PrecisionHawk is the exposure to the world’s leading drone and sensor experts. ” Tompkins also encourages his interns to keep a day-long of activities. “A work diary is immensely helpful to remember all the challenges you faced and solutions that you came up with.”
Since the inception of the program three years ago, eight interns have been hired on as full-time staff at PrecisionHawk. Other graduates have landed jobs with global leaders in energy, construction, insurance, and other industries. “If you’re passionate about pursuing a career in drones and aerial technology, this is the program for you,” said Tompkins.
Interested students can apply through the PrecisionHawk Careers page. We welcome candidates from diverse academic and personal backgrounds. While flying experience isn’t required, candidates must be self-driven problem-solvers who exhibit a passion for emerging technology, especially drones.
“We look forward to an exciting summer,” Tompkins said. “It’s going to be one of the most dynamic internship programs yet.”