High School Student's Drones Take Flight at 2018 UAS Summer Institute

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – From conceptualization to realization, high school students got hands-on experience with creating and flying their own Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s College of Science and Engineering 2018 UAS Summer Institute. The week-long day camp drew a group of 13 students from around the Coastal Bend who were eager to learn about the inner workings of drones.

“This is my third year attending UAS Summer Institute and every year, I learn more,” said Jorge Valdez, a senior at Collegiate High School. “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be doing something like this!”

While past summers focused on UAS coding and software technology, this year put the spotlight on engineering.

“Our goal is to inspire high-achieving students to pursue a degree in STEM at the Island University,” said Dr. David Bridges, associate professor and director of the UAS Program. “By teaching them how to put a drone together, and by examining some of the technology behind the drone, we show them that it’s not just a toy but something that requires knowledge of engineering to design, build, and fly.”

On the first day of camp, participants split into four teams and tackled the challenge of assembling their own quadcopter. After a crash course in the engineering design process, students were faced with the task of wiring and programming their drones. Through trial and error, campers learned how much weight a drone could carry and how many batteries it needs to operate. Toward the end of camp, each team took their creations to the Island Hall gym to watch their hard work take flight.

“GPS, the battery, the propellers, and all the little screws – learning how every little part of the drone is important was really cool,” said Madeline Villa, a senior at Incarnate Word Academy, who attended the camp for the second summer in a row. “To be able to put something up in the air and tell it what to do was pretty fun!”