Armand Poblete

Poblete is an instructor of information systems in the School of Business Administration (SBA). Information systems is an area of business that deals with the analysis of business processes, designing procedures and protocols, and implementing technology within an enterprise-level organization to streamline, increase productivity or reduce cost. He has worked at Andrews University for 13 years.

Unofficially, he is known as the “drone guy,” and also works as a systems administrator for the SBA in areas of technology strategic planning, designing and implementing the latest tech, and managing their current servers, computers and in-class technologies.

What are you involved with that allows you to change the world around you?

First, I am in a field where technology is the tool and sometimes the driver for change. Secondly, I am a teacher who inspires change… which means helping students search for what can be changed and give them the tools to change it.

My current projects revolve around “drones” or UAVs and finding a practical use for them. Currently, my projects range from Michigan to Kenya (in the early stages). In Michigan, I have been using drones to track invasive shrubs within an old oak forest, which has been pretty successful in isolating problem areas. Also, my students and I are currently in the final stages of building remote temperature soil sensors that would collect soil temps at various depths. These sensors are supporting Michigan’s only rattlesnake species, the Eastern Massasauga, and will help researchers collect valuable data to ensure the survival of the species. The data they collect will be picked up by specially designed drone units.

We recently reached out to Paul Orina of the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) to see if they had any use for “drone” technology… their response, “YES!” We are currently defining our project mission and objective in collaboration with KMFRI to assess fish farms along 200+ miles of Kenya’s Lake Victoria coastline. The primary goal of these drones would be to monitor the number of fish cages, pollutants and do the mapping. We are building drones that would meet that mission profile.

How did you get into this work/activity/project/etc.?

Funny question… My first degree is in biology, zoology to be exact. So the passion never left.

How have you changed others?

I see the change with my students. I find that these projects make the textbook come alive by applying technology to solve real-world problems. It opens their minds to current issues and problems we as a society are facing, especially in conservation (which I am passionate about) and teaches them to be creative in solving those issues with technology.

Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but the overall experience for both my students and me is invaluable, something that no book could ever teach. The people we interact with in our projects are beginning to see the value of new emerging technology as a tool to increase efficiency and accuracy.

View the spring 2018 test flight.