Applications now available for the 2023 UCSC CIDER Pilot Training Program

Students from the 2022 cohort practice deploying drones during a field training session.

The UCSC CITRIS Initiative for Drone Education and Research has launched its second Drone Pilot Training and Mentoring Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As a branch of the broader UCSC CIDER, this program has been established to train students who are historically underrepresented in aviation and STEM on the use and application of drones in a variety of fields to provide experiential learning and professional development skills that are transferable to future careers. 

In late November, 20 students will be selected to participate in a two quarter program to receive training on drone safety, hardware and sensors, mission planning, flight operation, data processing, remote sensing, FAA part 107 license training, and more. Students will meet twice per week for two hours a day for eight weeks during winter quarter (January 13 - March 10) and spring quarter (April 10 - June 9). During the first quarter, students will focus on preparation for the FAA Part 107 commercial drone pilot license test and will be introduced to manual and automated flight and the various drone platforms we use. The second quarter will focus on designing projects, autonomous data collection, data processing in drone deploy, and data analysis in GIS.  

Although this is a non-credit opportunity, students will be given a $1,000 stipend for participating in the program. The program will also cover the $175 fee for students to take their FAA Part 107 test, and students who pass their FAA Part 107 will be eligible to help conduct paid flights for projects on campus.  

Our goal is to prioritize students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM and support underserved students at UCSC. In alignment with the program's goals and its role within the university, priority will be given to 2nd- and 3rd-year students, but motivated freshman, seniors, and graduate students are encouraged to apply in the event that there is space available. All students must be in good academic standing with the university.  

We will host two info sessions for anyone interested in learning more about the CIDER program and for students looking for more information on applying to the Pilot Training Program:

Info Sessions are:

Please share this information widely. Applications for the 2023 pilot training program are available on our website and are due on or before November 7, 2022. For more information on the Pilot Training Program, visit: or email us at

For more information and application, please visit or email the program at

UCSC CIDER Drone Demonstration and Flight Day

Ever want to fly a drone or see the kinds of data they can collect?  Join us for an opportunity to see various drone platforms in person and in action.  The UCSC CIDER team will have a variety of drones available to demonstrate and discuss their capabilities for collecting data in the field.  We will also have a few of our smaller introductory drones available for people to fly under the supervision of our trained pilots.  Please use the link to RSVP so we have a sense of how many people to expect.

  • Live drone demo and hands-on flight experience - Monday, October 24 - 4:00-6:00 pm - location TBA - please RSVP here and we'll follow up with the campus location: