Drones are a technology with so much potential for future applications, and the associated skills are in high demand! SkillsUSA has recognized the value of these skills and has launched a national UAV drones competition. This year for the first time, Wisconsin SkillsUSA hosted a UAV Drone Competition, enabling the first place team to advance to nationals and compete against schools from across the country!
Each spring, Wisconsin SkillsUSA hosts its statewide conference in Madison, WI. Thousands of students from middle schools, high schools and colleges across the state attend the conference each year, which houses dozens of competitions focused on technical and workplace skills.
This year, the organization added the UAV Drones Competition to the lineup. This career contest is designed to develop skills in problem solving, mechanical engineering, electronics engineering, programming and piloting. The competition has four components and takes place over two days.
Teams were tested on their manual flight skills, having to complete a set of challenges that included controlled flight, hovering, interacting with objects, collision avoidance, object detection via camera, and safe landing.
In addition to the flying skills, teams also had to demonstrate maintenance troubleshooting and repair and take an FAA knowledge test (similar to the FAA certification exam required for commercial drone flight usage).
The top placing teams were:
Lakeview Technology Academy now has the opportunity to advance to the SkillsUSA National Championships in Atlanta, GA this June.
This competition is a great way to get students immersed in a technology that’s rapidly evolving. Drones are emerging as a key technology that will be put to use in countless applications. Today many still think of drones as a hobbyist activity, or think of applications like aerial photography and national defense. But already, the applications extend so far beyond. Here are a handful of unique tasks for which drones are being deployed:
Every sector of our economy will find applications for drones, and that workforce needs individuals who can build, program, maintain, repair, and find more use cases for these drones. The SkillsUSA competition is a perfect way to get started with drones in a school without having to create a whole new class or course section. Students get exposed to an emerging technology which can help influence their future career decisions!
Kristi Koschkee is the SkillsUSA Chapter Advisor at Lakeview Technology Academy. Her students won the state competition and will compete at nationals. Here’s what Kristi had to say about the value of the experience:
Our students had an incredibly challenging but extremely rewarding experience competing in the SkillsUSA Drone Competition. By the end of the competition, they had developed an entirely new skill set in aeronautics, programming, flight dynamics, and are able to recite and understand FAA regulations regarding unmanned aircraft systems. They were faced with a tremendous amount of adversity when a transmitter was shorted and even had to replace their main control panel the day of the competition when they lost control of the drone’s pitch. Mike Deitrich from LAB Midwest really went above and beyond to help our kids in their time of need. I cannot recommend this competition more to any other interested schools. When our students, Joshua Mattison and Harley Chen won first place, I have never seen students prouder of their accomplishments, and I cannot think of an instance that was more well-deserved. The technical skills that a student can gain if they are willing to see the project through is invaluable!
To learn more about UAV drones and how to get involved in future competitions, contact LAB Midwest.