Suresh Muthukrishnan, chair of the Department of Earth,
Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences at Furman University,
is part of a team that has won the humanitarian and public safety
award from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems
The award recognizes UNICEF’s African Drone and Data Academy
(ADDA), a program providing African youth with drone, data and
entrepreneurship skills to help them develop and implement
innovative solutions for health, agricultural and environmental
problems, which ultimately improves the overall quality of life
for children in Africa.
Based in Malawi, ADDA is a collaboration between lead contractor
Kevin Kochersberger, a professor of mechanical engineering at
Virginia Tech who leads the drone construction, testing and pilot
training components of the program, and Furman’s Muthukrishnan,
who orchestrates curriculum design, development, and
implementation of GIS and drone data analytics.
The 10-week, fully funded program is responsible for training 162
students across 19 African nations since 2020, with 60 percent of
the graduates being women.
Among other roles, students go on to use their skills in areas
such as malaria remediation, water and sanitation, humanitarian
relief, precision agriculture, urban planning, conservation,
search and rescue operations, and disaster response and recovery.
Graduates may enter the drone workforce or provide data-driven
solutions as consultants.