FAYETTEVILLE, AR – September 8, 2023 – Zweig Group, the leading research, publishing, and management consulting firm for the AEC industry, partnered with the University of Arkansas College of Engineering in August to host a drone competition during the Annual Rogers Public Education Foundation (RPEF) Golf Tournament at the Lost Springs Golf Club in Rogers, Arkansas.
"In the dynamic landscape of the AEC industry, the rise of nontraditional roles like drone operators is pivotal,” said Chad Clinehens, president and CEO of Zweig Group. “As we confront the widening talent gap and the persistent challenge of recruiting and retaining skilled professionals, embracing emerging professions ensures our ability to innovate and meet the evolving demands of modern engineering."
Sponsored by Garver and Crafton Tull, both AEC firms based in Northwest Arkansas, the drone "golfing" event showcased two teams of students from Rogers High School competing to drop golf balls as close to the pin as possible on the green. Team Garver and Team Crafton Tull, named in honor of the event sponsors, each operated a drone three times over a par-four hole. The victor was determined by the shortest drop time and closest proximity to the pin, with total times and distance measured.
"It's truly inspiring to witness the passion and dedication my students bring to learning drone operations,” said Jeff Anderson of Rogers High School. “I have no doubt that their strong foundation in drone technology will serve as a catalyst for their success in the dynamic field of aviation and beyond."
The purpose of the event, which brought together students, higher education, and industry professionals, was to connect the University of Arkansas College of Engineering with high school students to highlight the importance of nontraditional and emerging professions within the AEC space, such as drone operator.
“We are thrilled to be part of this event, and hope to continue partnering with high schools to expose students to these emerging professions,” said Richard Ham, an associate director at the University of Arkansas. “By fostering early exposure and educational programs, we are paving the way for a new generation of engineers equipped with diverse skill sets that will drive innovation and excellence in our field."
Drones and skilled operators are only becoming more important to modern engineering. For example, drones enable more efficient site surveys, construction monitoring, and remote inspections of inaccessible areas. Operators gather crucial data to support design and decision-making processes. From assessing infrastructure integrity to optimizing project efficiency, drone operators play an increasingly vital role in enhancing engineering outcomes.