Livingston Parish Students Attend Summer Camps to Learn How to Operate Drones

Livingston Parish Students Attend Summer Camps to Learn How to Operate Drones
Posted on 06/23/2018
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Livingston Parish Students Attend Summer Camps

to Learn How to Operate Drones


WALKER, La. – Students in Livingston Parish recently took part in summer camps at Walker High School to learn how to navigate the skies with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, as well as learn the basic safety guidelines and applications of the new technology.

Instructor Steve Johnson offered two three-day sessions -- a beginner’s camp, June 11-13, for students in grades 4-8; and an advanced camp for older students, June 18-20. 

“We offered the two levels to access a wide age group of students and to address the various experience levels,” Johnson said. “This allowed us to introduce the technology to those wanting to get started, and to go more in depth with use of the drone with the more experienced group.”

Johnson said the class was themed around particular areas of drone and robot technology and included such topics as flight, movement, film, photography, mechanics, and even virtual reality.

“This class introduced our students to the many facets of drones, robotics and the future of the drone industry,” Johnson said. 

He said students learned how to operate drones safely and ethically by gaining an understanding of the technology itself, as well as some of the laws and regulations surrounding drones.  They also learned about business and engineering applications of the technology and uses of the data that can be collected with drones.

Johnson said the younger students learned the basics about flying a drone and the different elements of a drone.  They were provided with beginner drone kits to assemble. 

“We reviewed the obvious rules as they relate to drone operations, and then we put them through drone yoga exercises, called ‘Droga.’ They learned about pitch, yaw and roll, as well as how to throttle up and down,” Johnson said.

He said the older group worked with contractors with Alvarez Construction who are currently developing The Sanctuary residential subdivision near Juban Road, off Florida Boulevard, between Walker and Denham Springs.

“Our more advanced students reviewed the safety rules, examined the job site, then used a commercial drone to take approximately 10 to 12 minutes of video of the development, which was then uploaded into an Adobe Premier Pro software program to be edited into a marketing video,” Johnson said, adding that the contractor judged the videos at the end of the camp session.

“This field can certainly be more than a hobby; it can be a gateway to an exciting and budding career,” Johnson said.

Johnson said drones have applications for real estate, insurance, construction utilities, agriculture, marketing, journalism and more.  One example is inspecting electrical wires for hot spots and corrosion.  Right now, utility companies have to hire helicopter crews to do the job when drones can collect better data faster, cheaper and safer. 

 “The possibilities for our students are limitless,” Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre said.  “As more students engage in the technology and use their creativity to think out of the box, we’re going to see a wide range of uses for drones that were never before imagined.  It’s an exciting field and we want our students to be at the forefront.”

St. Pierre noted that his school offers a Drone Certification Program, or “Drones 101” as Johnson likes to call it, to prepare students to receive their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Pilot’s 107 license, which will allow them to fly drones commercially and professionally.

This next school year, St. Pierre said he will designate a campus building to the program – dubbing it the “Quadcopter” – and expand instruction opportunities to include drone repair, maintenance and design.  He said Walker High School is the only high school in the state that has a drone program.

            Johnson added that he has plans to expand his summer camp offerings next year to include more sessions and a greater variety in subject matter.

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