“One of the individuals that participated in our first drone camp in 2020 has since started Apex Droneography, a drone videography business, and also provides his drone skills to his employer and their clients.”
Kettering University will host one of four regional aerial drone championships May 13-14 in its Connie and Jim John Recreation Center.
Fifty-one teams will compete in the 2023 Aerial Drone Competition Regional Championship: Ingenuity in Michigan. High school students will make up most of the teams, but some middle school students also will compete. Eighteen teams are from Michigan while 33 teams will come from around the country, including Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Colorado, Utah, Texas and California.
“Drones are a vertical version of robotics,” said Kim Shumaker, Robotics Community Center and Robotics Outreach Director at Kettering University. “Students can build them, program them, complete autonomous challenges, and the teams must work together to solve problems, communicate flight plans and train the pilots. This is another great way to engage students in a challenging activity that inspires the pursuit of STEM degrees and careers after high school.”
The Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation, an educational organization whose mission is to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), operates the aerial drone program. In the program, students learn about drones, flight principles, programming, documentation and communication while building drones for annual competitions.
This year’s challenge, called Mission 2023: Blackout, is played on a 24-foot-by-24-foot field. The game features two matches, Piloting Teamwork and Autonomous Flight Skills. In Piloting Teamwork, alliances made up of two teams each work to earn the highest score by owning goals, scoring bonus balls and ending the match on a landing pad or in the alliance blackout zone. In Autonomous Flight Skills, teams each have one minute of autonomous drone operation to score points by lifting off, navigating through arch and keyhole gates, removing balls from the starting lane and ending the match on a landing pad or in the alliance blackout zone.
The Kettering event is the third of four regional events. Two events took place in April in Texas and Mississippi; the fourth will be May 19 and 20 in West Virginia.
Kettering University began hosting drone events in 2022 with two regular season events. The University also sponsored the Aerial Drone World Championship in Dallas in 2022. This year, the University hosted two regular season events as well as the regional championship.
In addition, Kettering helped Vassar High School start its first two drone teams in 2021 by lending the teams the camp drones and field. The teams competed at the first Kettering-hosted competition and won the world championship in 2022. Kettering also helped Waverly High School start six drone teams in 2022—again by lending the teams drones and the field.
“We respect the skills students learn, and by lending the drones to high schools, new teams can experience the activity and competitions before making an investment in the program,” Shumaker said.
The University began hosting summer drone camps in 2020 with a virtual Drone Pilot Certification Camp. The first in-person camp was in 2021.
“The use of drones has become part of many industries,” Shumaker said. “From realtors to the Department of Defense, drones provide an alternate mode of capturing images, measuring spaces, creating 3D drawings, delivering supplies/products and so much more. Students who gain experience with drones will add to their skill set and resume valuable experience that can assist future employers. One of the individuals that participated in our first drone camp in 2020 has since started Apex Droneography, a drone videography business, and also provides his drone skills to his employer and their clients.”
This year’s drone camps will be July 9-13 for students in grades 9-12. Space is still available. For more information about camps, click here.