As demand for drones in the workplace continues to grow, one program at Georgetown High School is helping students prepare for careers in technology with a fun, creative spin.
In 2021, Robert Thomas, facilitator at Georgetown High School’s Eagle Innovation Center, and teacher Walker Nikolaus, teamed up with Youth Drone Sports Championships (YDSC) and launched a drone program in Georgetown ISD. By year’s end, the class was at capacity and there were 26 students in the after school club.
In the classroom, the curriculum includes increasingly complex skills that build, year over year, to enable students to construct and operate drones safely for photographs, videos, surveys, or simply to gain a better understanding of aerodynamics. Teachers also facilitate the students’ acquisition of FAA certifications that allow them to participate in the end-of-year project: employment with local businesses as drone operators.
In contrast, the club focuses on applying classroom instruction to the tricky task of flying—and racing—drones via simulators with students from around the country. As a first-time participant, Casey, a senior and the club’s top racer, placed first in the nation in the novice category. He says he enjoys the fast pace of competition and plans to continue racing after graduation.
Thomas and Nikolaus agree the fun and friendly competition of drone racing is their favorite part of the class and club, particularly now that club members have transitioned from online racing to real-world drone work.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
“Drone technology is disrupting innumerable industries,” Thomas says. “With support from the community we’ve worked to expose our students to future career opportunities in this growing field. The kids love it, and the learning will prove to be quite beneficial in their future.”
Hunter, a senior, has already created a startup company and provides drone video to local businesses for marketing. “I’ll stay [after school] for hours sometimes,” he says, “just trying to get better at flying.”
Hunter is not alone—most of the graduating seniors are building similar startups, ready to promote their future-friendly services to local businesses and firms. Madison, another member of the class of 2022, plans to take her drone business with her when she moves to California. “This is a really good program,” she says. “I’m excited to raise awareness and engage more students in the opportunity.”
BE PART OF IT
The drone program was started, in part, with grant funds from the Georgetown ISD Education Foundation. Anyone wishing to support and facilitate its growth, which will provide as much benefit to the Georgetown business community as its students, can visit their website to donate to the program. (GISDEdFound.org)
To inquire about hiring a student for drone services, contact Robert Thomas at [email protected].