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Top Area Students Experience Drone Technology at Summer Institute Hosted by Island University

August 07, 2015

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The College of Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi hosted 20 local high school students during the inaugural Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Summer Institute, held July 27- 31. As part of the program, students programmed and flew drones on an indoor course.

Students participated in a week-long series of lectures, hands-on activities, and field trips to the USS Lexington and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

“The students were introduced to all aspects of unmanned aircraft systems – controls, programming, global positioning systems, and got to see just about all of the UAS research taking place at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi,” said Dr. David Bridges, Director of the UAS Summer Institute and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “They also had to program a quadcopter from the ground up, starting with downloading the necessary open-source software from the Internet and installing it on laptops.  It was a very thorough introduction to UAS technology, and one that we hope will inspire these students towards future endeavors in the field of unmanned aircraft.”

To mark an end to the Institute, students were divided into four teams to compete in a drone contest. The teams competed against each other in programming their quadcopters to fly an indoor course and completed certain tasks during the flight.

“This past week has been really fun,” said Diego Rodriguez, a sophomore at King High School. “Programming the drone with the Java Script program was a brand-new experience for me, and that was awesome.”

Students enrolled in the UAS Summer Institute were selected based on grade point averages, SAT scores, three separate essays, and teacher recommendations.

“Not only did we get to experience working with the drones, but we talked to people who can tell us the difference between fields of study and how it related to the different parts of the Institute,” said Brandi Gardner, a senior at Carroll High School. “The faculty and staff we got to talk with and be around was probably the best thing the Institute offered.”

The UAS Summer Institute was funded by a generous grant from the Coastal Bend Community Foundation, which provided tuition for all participating students. The program coordinators hope to make the Institute an annual event.

The following is a list of awards presented on the last day of the Institute:

Team Outstanding Operator:  Aneel Damaraju, Sarita Damaraju, Jacob Davidson, and Noah Earley. 

Drone Contest Team Winner: The “Blue Team,” consisting of Aneel Damaraju, Brandi Gardner, Alexander Kuan, Stephen Matchett, and Diego Rodriguez