You're likely to be able to get the funding through the school for your materials for the drone, you'll still be getting credit towards graduation, and you won't be doing anything that might be illegal with financial aid money.
I'll add that a professor who might be even remotely associated with the field may know people at other institutions or in industry. This could pay off down the line when you are looking for employment.
Also, if it's school sanctioned the IRS won't even blink at letting you write off costs on your taxes (or parent's taxes, if you're a dependent).
Also, if you have an active IEEE or ACM branch at your school, they might have additional funding if you can get enough people and a faculty member or two on board. We provided funding to a couple projects, one was the SECON robotics competition, but I vaguely recall helping with some other project(s).
It's no news for anyone who has done any amount of research in science or engineering that research is a team effort, that one has to work across subject boundaries, and that it isn't at all risk-free. That's why nowadays undergraduates are expected to work in research labs from the sophomore year onwards. It is impossible to get into any serious PhD program without research experience.
I'm not sure why the blog author quotes a Forbes article full of non-truths, but we wish that he gets his project off the ground, so that he can see what a university is really like.
Overall, for software, the classic college experience is becoming a racket though, so I'm glad to see you're taking things into your own hands.
Other fields, I'm not too familiar with, but for example if you want to become a surgeon, you pretty much need college because you can't go around practicing on dead bodies on your own.
In my experience, people who believe this have not been good students.
> Traditional education is concerned with staying in context and within the lines of subject content; Innovation is the exact opposite. It is all about crossing boundaries, and digging deeper into problems and their solutions from a variety of angles.
Eh. Here's what this misses:
You can't cross boundaries if you're not inside those boundaries to begin with. You can't usefully apply different perspectives if you don't have a solid intellectual investment into those perspectives. That grounding gives you the ability to generalize and abstract, and it's using those abstractions, girded by referents, that make those perspectives useful.
You can trumpet innovation all you like, but what's really going on here is that innovators tend to deeply understand multiple fields without being snobbish about cross-pollinating. That's all. Trad.Ed. only really fails here because it fails to encourage such behavior.
You should have talked to someone before saying this. IIRC, financial aid is to be used in very specific ways.
From tales I've heard, those specific ways seem to be chiefly pizza and intoxicants.
So this seems quite the improvement. Besides, success often requires identifying the bendy rules and flexing them out of your way for a moment. Good experience.
The idea is not to rub it in; someone might just decide to take a look, and the student can get royally screwed.
Regarding the US, please see: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf
"Expenses that do not qualify. Qualified education expenses do not include the cost of:
• Room and board,
• Clerical help, or
• Equipment and other expenses that are not required for enrollment in or attendance at an eligible educational institution"
Any expenses used toward a drone are clearly taxable even if you call it "Research". In practice, the IRS would never find out (unless you were audited). Unless, that is, you went and posted your idea on your blog and then posted that on HN.