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South River STEM Students Take to the Skies with Drones

A class offered through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math magnet program allows kids to design and fly their own drones.

An AR drone ready for flight.|Photo credit: Rhorton4549, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
An AR drone ready for flight.|Photo credit: Rhorton4549, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
If you think Amazon's got the public market cornered on innovative drone technology, think again—South River High students may just give Amazon a run for its money.

Students in South River's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math magnet program are getting an on future careers in aerodynamics with a Unmanned Aerial Systems, where they design and fly their own drones.

ARINC Incorporated—a communications and engineering firm—has partnered with the school to develop and fund the project, which is part of the STEM and Project Lead the Way program that focuses on aerospace and civil engineering.

The class is co-taught by South River technical education teacher Rob Tompkins, and by Rolf Stefani, senior director of ARINC’s Technology Innovation Center. It expands on students' previous aerodynamic and engineers classes, and introduces the field of UASs.

“We are incredibly excited about the class that Mr. Stefani has helped develop for our program,” Fran Magiera, assistant principal at South said in a statement. "The class is on the cutting edge of new technologies and markets, and we believe it provides a tremendous learning experience for our students."

According to a press release, the course "covers topics such as defining what unmanned aerial systems are, the different components of flight dynamics, essential guidelines for flight safety, and the theories behind telemetry, amongst other subjects." 

Students will also learn about commercial uses of UAS, for industries like agriculture, transportation and search and rescue missions. 

“We go beyond theory to engage students by, for example, building and then actually flying small UASs to demonstrate the theory of flight," Stefani said in a statement. "It’s rather challenging to build your own UAS, and it exposes the students to a number of different disciplines."

ARINC has also donated funds to off set the cost of equipment and other materials associated with the class.

You can watch a video of South River student building and flying their drones on YouTube

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