How does this sound? You can spend a week working with some of the nation’s top drone experts. You can learn from Air Force pilots, engineers from one of the country’s leading universities, and drone experts successful in a brand new industry. For a week, you can be immersed in the design, manufacture, and operation of drones. You’ll get to visit the Microsoft Technology Center – to get a first hand look at yet-to-be-released advances in drone and aerial robotics technology. You learn to pilot a drone.
If you are accepted into the program, it is free.
But you have to be in middle school, because this is RCEL drone camp. Drone Camp, hosted by Rice University and supported by BP, Microsoft, and Trumbull Unmanned is a STEM experience designed to introduce motivated kids to the drone industry.
“It’s one of my favorite things to support,” says Dyan Gibbens, CEO of Trumbull Unmanned. The native Texan, drone industry veteran, and parent believes in getting kids involved in STEM activities at an early age. Cesare Wright, an RCEL lecturer and outreach specialist, is the camp organizer. “The drone camp is designed to engage students in the applied practice and teamwork scenarios that are often difficult to replicate in a more conventional classroom setting,” Wright said in a statement.
A diverse group of students compete for the opportunity to attend the tuition-free camp through a competitive, double-blind application process; 25 students are chosen for the program, which runs this week at Rice University.
While the camp organizers have worked with education officials to create a curriculum aligned with both Texan and federal standards, the curriculum doesn’t stop at straight engineering. Campers study the ethical and practical aspects of different drone applications, learn about best practices for operating drones, and get hands-on practice with flying during “free fly time.” At the end of the camp, students get to hone their business skills by pitching a “Shark Tank” type presentation for a project to a panel of industry experts.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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