Career Center hosts Aerial Drone Competition


XENIA — The Greene County Career Center hosted the Miami Valley Inaugural Drone Competition March 4. Dozens of high school students totalling 24 teams from across the country came out to the event funded by a grant from the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation.

They met to strategize and plan out their teamwork challenge matches, followed by autonomous flight skills field openings and fitting in programming skills challenges in-between teamwork matches.

Around 75 students competed in Saturday’s competition with local teams from West Carrollton, Trotwood-Madison, Valley View, Spinning Hills, Xenia, and Piqua competing.

This was awesome for us,” said Brett Davidson, curriculum specialist at the GCCC. “First time for a drone competition. The REC team came in to support us — they do competitions for middle schools and high schools.”

According to Davidson, the GCCC was awarded a supply grant from REC which covered the purchase of three drones and two competition fields. The “code” drones cost around $220 a piece and are small, lightweight, and specially-made with unique features not found in tech stores such as Best Buy. As the host site for the competition, the GCCC received the grant to help kick off the competition.

Once the ball clears the starting gate of choraled ping pong balls, during their designated heat, students chase the ping pong balls around the course with the “blow” or air generated by the drone they are navigating (without touching the ball) — resembling the sport of “curling” during the Olympics. The ball progresses around the course touching landmark circles (for extra points).

The ball is navigated through the course until it ends up at a cave-like end zone where extra points can be earned by guiding the drone to a particular area that the navigator can’t see but has to follow the commands of their teammate to accomplish this last task.

“The competition has created excitement around the new drone program. It’s a good tech entry program. It will energize new students who just entered the program,” said Davidson, who awarded the first place trophy to the Knight Flyers, a junior ROTC team at Cabell Midland High School from Ona, West Virginia. Piqua High School came in second.

The GCCC Drone Technology elective covers such career programs as ideography, roof inspections, search and rescue, natural resources management, wildlife management, and map tributaries. Students work with representatives from Woolpert, Beavercreek Fire Division, and Premium Agriculture

The Drone Technology program is in its second year. There are 15 juniors and 15 seniors enrolled.

Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.

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