Matt Waite travels to Chile to work with drone journalism class

Matt Waite travels to Chile to work with drone journalism class

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 - 6:00pm
Matt Waite with students in Chile
Matt Waite with students in Chile

University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications professor Matt Waite traveled to Chile this fall to collaborate with a drone journalism class at the Universidad de Concepcion.

The multi-disciplinary class was started by an engineering and a journalism professor and brings aerospace engineering and journalism students together in one room. One aerospace engineering student and one journalism student are paired together.

“This is a one-of-a-kind class,” Waite said. “It’s great to see engineering and journalism students working together and the excitement they had for what the other does. It gives me ideas about how we can do similar collaborations here.”

At UNL, Waite founded the first drone journalism lab in the country in November 2011, but because of federal regulations, UNL’s drones have been grounded in the United States since 2013. During the summer, Waite obtained a pilot’s license so the lab can obtain federal permission to fly drones outside again. He got his license in September, and the lab is waiting on FAA approval.

Waite worked with the Chilean students as they built drones and time-lapse robots in their pairs. The robots panned a camera down the machine taking a picture every few seconds. Waite and the students then flew the drones over campus and captured a time lapse from the air.

The drone laws in Chile are far less strict than in the U.S., which is why the U.S. State Department funded Waite’s participation in this program.

“Chilean drone rules are very well done,” Waite said. “They are really simple. Basically if you are 18 and can take a test, you can fly a drone.”

Waite said the format of this class and the less strict drone laws offer a lot of potential opportunities for UNL to collaborate with the Universidad de Concepcion in the future.

While in Chile, Waite also gave a public lecture at the university before returning home.

Before joining the CoJMC faculty, Waite was the senior news technologist for the St. Petersburg Times. Before becoming a web developer, he was an award-winning investigative reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and St. Petersburg Times. In 2009, he founded Hot Type Consulting, a company that builds applications for media outlets.