Nicole Hastings, a BYU Civil Engineering student, quickly found herself needing a backup plan to complete the thesis for her master’s degree.
“My last master’s degree project fell through at the last moment,” Nicole said. “So, one of my professors reached out to someone that he knew at Clyde Companies to see if they could help. Things started moving pretty quickly from there.”
Assistance was needed to conduct an experiment that would be the basis for her thesis, the final component of her master’s degree. Clyde Companies immediately offered its support with time, resources, and funding.
For the experiment, Nicole wanted to look at several different factors of drone operations to decide if various changes made an impact on how results were viewed.
“A lot of companies try and sell their way of doing things, their product, their drones, their software, how they fly, etc.,” Nicole said. “They try and sell that as the best way to do things, but there hasn’t been a lot of research on what actually is the best way from a non-biased standpoint. So, that’s what we’re doing.”
Field work at the Geneva Rock Springville Batch Plant facility began in July 2021 and wrapped up last month.
Drones were flown 200 to 400 feet in the air, taking anywhere from 200 to 1,000 pictures of piles of aggregates. The work didn’t end there, however, as Nicole continues to work her way through the generated data.
“Right now, I’m putting together 3D reconstructed models from the photos of the different flights,” Nicole said. “Then, I’ll need to do comparisons and measure values. It’s going to be a lot of data analysis.”
Nicole hopes to conclude the analysis aspect of her experiment by the end of December in preparation to graduate sometime in 2022. She is still deciding whether to go a more traditional civil engineering route with her career or to do work similar to what she’s experienced with this experiment at Clyde Companies.
“I’ve really enjoyed being able to see how Clyde Companies does things, especially with how they work with the drones,” Nicole said. “It’s fun to work with people who do this on a day-to-day basis. This is their job. This is what they do all the time. They don’t have classes or other things that they’re also doing. It’s really fun to watch.”
With only a few classes left herself, Nicole is excited about future collaboration possibilities between Clyde Companies and the BYU College of Engineering. Looking ahead, Clyde Companies plans to continue to help BYU students with experiments. Plans are currently underway for the next project.
“We’ve opened up a lot of really interesting research and work opportunities between these two groups,” Nicole said. “It’s a nice opportunity for those who want to figure out what they want to do, like me.”
As Nicole continues to figure out what she wants to do in her career, she says she isn’t phased by being in a traditionally male-dominated field.
“I only have brothers, and I’ve worked several jobs where I’m the only female around,” Nicole said. “The push for more women in engineering is really awesome. I always encourage people to find a way to do what they love to do regardless of the field.
“Women in civil engineering are definitely some of my favorite people in the world. It’s been seen as a guy’s club for a long time. It’s a fun place to be.”