Drones and Autonomous Systems 2: Applications in Emergency Management

Course 2 of 2:Professional Certificate in Drones and Autonomous Systems 6 Weeks 2 - 3 Hours per week recommended

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About this course

If you want to be the technology specialist who can procure and gain insight into cutting edge systems to help save lives and cut disaster losses, this Professional Certificate provides the foundational knowledge you need.

It is designed for recreational hobbyists, certified remote pilots, commercial operators, and public safety and government users.

This course covers unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to include drones and autonomous aerial vehicles, sensors, communications, ground control, navigation and other payloads that rely on complex algorithms that can be applied for protecting and saving lives and property.

In this edX Professional Certificate, you will learn the importance of autonomous systems and drone technologies that bring speed, efficiency and affordable solutions to disaster response and management. Topics include the use of drones by emergency managers, first responders, and search and rescue personnel responding to natural and manmade disasters.

No previous knowledge of drones or flight experience is required. Join as you start your drone journey.

Taught by highly experienced instructors and practitioners in military and civil UAS operations, practical applications, systems design, and emergency management planning, this course will provide the novice, subject-matter expert analyst, planner and operational associate with the technical understanding for infusing drone solutions into emergency management and planning.

Additionally, those who have a curiosity or general interest in drones, be it casual or in-depth, will benefit from this course to gain insight into emergency management, homeland security, and intelligence applications

What you’ll learn

  • Classification of disaster types according to hazard origin – natural, such as storms and flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruption, flooding, wildfires, drought, epidemics; human-induced, such as criminal, terrorist, active shooter and accidental such as oil spills, train derailment; and humanitarian disasters such as famine and refugee/migration crises.
  • Tasks and applications – forecasting, command and control, disaster relief operations, structural analysis, rescue and recovery, and logistics.
  • Customer sets – governments (local, state, and national levels), NGOs, private contractors, defense, information technology, transportation, aeronautical, engineering and construction, agriculture, entrepreneurs, etc.
  • Examination of drone technologies used in emergency preparedness and response including platforms and missions, power, propulsion, payloads, emergency response communication system that use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs); satellite communication (SATCOM) datalinks; and remote sensing.
  • How to develop technology implementation solutions based on a crisis scenario.
  • Critical infrastructure applications such as monitoring dams, highways, floods, food and agriculture, finance, national parks and monuments etc.
  • Future technology implications such as artificial intelligence, algorithms, 5-G technology, accelerated integration of multiple data sources, counter-UAS capabilities, weaponized hobbyist drones, and docking stations and tethers.


Week 1: Introduction to hazards, disasters and drone applications

Week 2: Global natural disasters and drone applications I

Week 3: Global natural disasters and drone applications II

Week 4: Man-made disasters and drone applications I

Week 5: Man-made disasters and drone applications II

Week 6: Future drone applications

Meet your instructor

Brian Powers, M.A.

Brian Powers is an associate professor and chair of the Intelligence Management Program at UMGC. Prior to joining UMGC, he served for 26 years in the United States Air Force as an intelligence officer serving in various operational and staff assignments at the Pentagon in the Air Staff, Joint Staff, and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD(I); and three overseas Combatant Commands in the Europe, Middle East and Pacific regions. He has also worked 13 years in the private sector as an intelligence planner in strategy and policy at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency, and as a program director and educator. He holds a master’s degree in Business and Organizational Security from Webster University, a master’s degree in National Security Affairs from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, a master’s degree in International Relations from Creighton University.


6 Weeks

Experience Level


Learning Partner

University System of Maryland

Program Type

Professional Certificate