Brookfield High School Drone Team Flies High at National Competition
From the small town of Brookfield, Ohio, a team of high school seniors made a mark on the national stage. “It's something far beyond what our school has done before,” stated proud drone team member Sam Plyler, “I was proud to be there.”
Plyler, along with Billy McAnany, Makenna Hunter, Kara Svarny, and Cameron Neely, represented their high school in the Drones in School National Championship race held in Denver, Colorado, on May 10 and 11. Competing as ‘The Fuel,' they held their own against 12 other high school teams in a series of five events, including Capture the Flag, Head-to-Head, Design and Engineering, Video Presentation, and Portfolio & Display.
The Fuel drone team showed their mettle
The Fuel drone team showed their mettle, securing fifth place in all categories except Video Presentation, where they ranked fourth. Their coach, Tim Reinsel, a science teacher at Brookfield, was reportedly impressed by their performance, especially considering the program is barely a year-and-a-half old. “I already have students looking to join the team next year,” he revealed.
Brookfield's drone team operates outside the high school's regular drone course, which aims to equip students with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification. Interestingly, the team members aren't certified as the competition drones are lightweight and don't require regulatory approval.
A significant part of the contest involved the students engineering their own drones. “We've been in here for about two years,” explained team member McAnany. “The first year we didn't quite make it to nationals because we were iffy on the whole design process.”
They designed their drone using free online software, overcame challenges with outdated school 3D printers, and experimented with different materials to perfect their drone.
They recently acquired a new 3D resin printer, promising greater accuracy and strength for future drone parts. “It's a good tool we could use in the future,” McAnany affirmed.
Superintendent Toby Gibson emphasized the program's importance, made possible by a grant from the Trumbull County Educational Service Center.
“It shows to our students that with hard work, time and commitment, you can achieve beyond your goals.”
And for McAnany, the experience has been invaluable. “I'm definitely certain that the knowledge we gained from this experience will help us in the long run with whatever we choose,” he concluded.
Photo courtesy of Dan O'Brien / The Business Journal
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