James
Munro, a BSc (Hons) Computing Student at Edge Hill University, has been working
with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) Martin Mere Centre for a number of
months as part of his final year project.

Senior
Lecturer, Dr Mark Anderson, explains further, “James approached me with the
initial concept of developing a flying drone which would be used for aerial
photography. When we discussed the project in more detail we identified Martin
Mere as a potential user of the finished product, as we felt it would support
their invaluable conservation work.”
 

James
is now developing the drone that will both hover and fly and take aerial
pictures or video. As well as this, by being radio controlled and programmed to
make use of on-board GPS it will also be able to follow a pre-determined flight
path, making it extremely useful for managing wetlands and monitoring wildlife
activity on the WWT site.
 

“Two
key aspects of this project really stand out for me,” adds Dr Anderson. “The
first is innovation; this idea is really pushing the boundaries of project
expectations and is creating something that is unique with real-world impact.
Secondly, James is engaging with a real client and developing invaluable
employability skills, such as negotiating expectations, leading meetings,
implementing requirements and evaluating results, all of which will enable him
to become job ready upon graduation.”
 

James
comments, “Mark has really helped me to think outside the box on this project and
come up with something that is new and interesting. Although it is still early
days, and there is still much more work to do, it has been great working with
Martin Mere. I’m currently in the process of learning to fly the drone and
developing the concept to meet environmental challenges, such as coping with
changing weather conditions. Hopefully, we will capture some superb images of
wildlife that otherwise would not have been viewed in such a way.”
 

Commenting
on the contribution James’s project will make to them Martin Mere’s Marketing
Manager, Victoria Fellowes, adds, “We have worked with a variety of departments
from Edge Hill University in the past and have always found the students to be extremely
resourceful. We have over 600 acres at Martin Mere so the drone is an ideal
opportunity to delve more into the wildlife world by accessing areas of the
reedbed and islands on the reserve, as well as researching and cataloging the
plant species and spring breeding birds on our self-sufficient grass roof. The
drone will prove a very valuable tool that we will be able to utilise for a
number of projects, so I am looking forward to working with James over the coming
months.”
 

Dr
Anderson concludes, “It’s vitally important for Edge Hill to build links with groups
from wide-ranging sectors. The Department of Computing has many skills and
abilities among its staff and students that could really assist in the daily
activities of many partners. The work that James is undertaking with the WWT is
an excellent example of this.”
 

For
more information about studying Computing, Information Technology and Web
Development, visit ehu.ac.uk/studycomputing