A team from Siloam Springs High School's first-year drone program swept its categories during a competition at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith earlier this month.
The team of four students won first place in 3D-printed presentation, first place in 3D-printed obstacle course and earned the overall award for the fastest obstacle course time at UAFS Drone Day on May 4, according to the university. Teams could compete in either the 3D-printed or "Anything that flies," category.
The UAFS Drone Day event ran in conjunction with International Drone Day, which included more than 150 events in 50 countries designed to inspire enthusiasm for unmanned aerial technology, the university website states.
About 18 teams from Fort Smith's Northside, Southside and Future School High Schools, Van Buren High School and Fort Smith's Ramsey Junior High also took part in the competition.
Siloam Springs High School's drone team consisted of seniors Johnathan Craddock and Max Ketcher, junior Brandon Dolanski and sophomore Jackson Fine, according to teacher Megan Dennison.
In preparation for the competition, the students built a drone from a kit, modifying several features as they went along then 3D printed the drone's arms, then programmed the aircraft. They also put together a video and presentation about the design process for the judges, Denison said.
The team designed their drone to be clean, tiny and fast, Jackson and Craddock said.
During the competition, teams flew their drones in a series of three brackets through an obstacle course that included a series of vertical and horizontal poles, as well as mesh tubes and walls. Teams were judged by their ability to navigate the course as well as the time to completion, according the the university.
Siloam Springs was the first team to fly the course during the first bracket and set a record of 1 minute 20 seconds that went unbeaten until the team broke their own record during the last bracket with a flight of 48 seconds, Ketcher said.
"We set the bar really high. ... After we set the bar, no one could break it," he said.
"It was really fun to watch because my guys went through that obstacle course really smooth, half the other kids crashed and wrecked their drones," Denison said.
Craddock said the win was especially meaningful to the team because this is Siloam Springs' first year to have a drone program while many of the other drone programs are 3 years old.
Denison started the drone program last fall as part of the district's career and technical education program. The year-long class allows students to learn about unmanned aircraft and prepares them to take the Federal Aviation Administration's Part 107 licensing test for small unmanned aircraft. Students study topics such as the basics of flight, troubleshooting, basic repairs, laws on flying, possible careers, video editing and thermal imaging.General News on 05/29/2019
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