The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Unmanned Aerial Systems program hosted its inaugural Drone Day competition Saturday, with flight and build competitions that encouraged creative thinking in this emerging industry. Teams from Northside, Southside, Van Buren, Siloam Springs, and Future School high schools, and Ramsey Junior High School competed in the event.
The UAFS Drone Day event ran in conjunction with International Drone Day, whose roster boasts more than 150 events held May 4, 2019, across more than 50 countries, all with the intent of inspiring enthusiasm for unmanned aerial technology.
“When we brought an unmanned aerial systems program to Western Arkansas, we did it because we knew this technology was important, and we knew our community would embrace the chance to be on the forefront of an industry that is set to have an enormous economic impact on our state and region,” said Dr. Edward Serna, interim chancellor of UAFS. “With 20 teams from six schools at our first Drone Day event, I think the community has proven that they do.”
“This is a great opportunity for local schools and the community to see the exciting work we’re doing here at the university with our Unmanned Aerial Systems program,” said David Pollman, director of the UAS program. “Our goal is to promote collaboration between schools and teams, both now and in the future.”
The aerial obstacle course required students to fly drones they either built or 3D-printed through a series of vertical and horizontal poles, as well as around mesh tubes and walls. Teams also presented their projects to judges in addition to flying the competition route. Teams were judged on presentation and the ability to navigate the course, as well as the time to completion.
First Place Winners were:
Anything That Flies presentation: The Blue Orcas, Southside High School
3D-printed presentation: Team Zenith, Siloam Springs High School
Anything That Flies obstacle course: Van Buren High School
3D-printed obstacle course: Team Zenith, Siloam Springs High School
Team Zenith of Siloam Springs High School also earned the overall award after completing the obstacle course with their 3D printed aircraft in an impressive 48 seconds.
“We are so excited to offer this kind of event to our region. Exposing students to emerging technology is crucial to our success as a university, and their experiences with it will benefit regional industries in the years to come,” said Dr. Ken Warden, Dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology at UAFS.
Vendors on hand included the 188th Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, the Arkansas Army National Guard, Arkansas Valley Electric and Sentera.