Burnley College students team up to help save the planet by designing and building an environmentally-friendly drone

Expert Tutors, environmentally-conscious learners and industry experts at Burnley College are setting their sights on revolutionising drone technology in an exciting new project.

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Expert Tutors, environmentally-conscious learners and industry experts at Burnley College are setting their sights on revolutionising drone technology in an exciting new project.

The aim is simple – design, build and fly a zero-emissions drone powerful enough to carry a small cinema camera.

This huge project is going to draw on the innovation, skills and engineering knowledge of learners, Tutors and even a former Formula 1 engineer with unrivalled experience of working with carbon fibre.

It’s part of a new Engineering Enrichment Club which has been launched at Burnley College.

Drones have moved from science fiction to affordable toys over recent years – and the TV and film industries to name just two couldn’t function without them. But to lift a cinema camera with a drone has traditionally required heavy duty drones, run on high polluting fuels.

This new project aims to redesign an existing media-drone platform so it can be built from new, sustainable natural fibre composites and run on green-fuel hydrogen.

Students will help design and manufacture all required parts, including 3D printing components, hand laying carbon fibre and natural fibre composites using Burnley College’s unrivalled facilities, including its industry-standard auto-clave, which heats composite materials under pressure to shape and harden them.

They’ll also be installing the hydrogen fuel cell unit and tanks, as well as fitting and setting up the cinema camera before heading offsite to set up and observe test flights.

The Engineering Enrichment Club is spearheaded by Engineering Lecturer Mark Webber. Mark has a wealth of experience in multiple industries which makes him the ideal project leader: he has made carbon fibre wings for Formula 1 at Ferrari and runs his own drone piloting business, regularly capturing footage for film and TV companies around the world.

Mark says it’s a chance to build futures and change lives:

“It’s a privilege to share my experience and expertise every day with the composite engineers of tomorrow. I know this Engineering Experience Club will appeal to those already studying Engineering, as well as those learners who have a real passion for sustainability and protecting the environment.

“Our state-of-the-art equipment and facilities in the Centre of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence will allow us to really push the boundaries of drone design.

“It’s a constantly evolving industry and I’m excited to show everyone who joins the sessions the huge range of career possibilities composites engineering can offer, as well as the impact it can have on the environment.” The club is open to all learners and staff at Burnley College, and no experience in engineering or drone flying is required – just a passion to make a difference.

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