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Georgetown ISD Drone Program Takes Flight
If you take a look at the abundance of career opportunities today, you will see that drone technology is being incorporated into a number of fields. That is what Robert Thomas, Facilitator at Georgetown High School’s Eagle Innovation Center (EIC), and Walker Nikolaus, Teacher at Georgetown High School, had in mind when they teamed up with Youth Drone Sports Championships (YDSC) and launched a drone program in Georgetown ISD in 2021.
“This is one of the career fields that is going to explode in the next 25 years,” Thomas said. “Emerging tech is going to impact so many different fields while these drone students are looking for a career.”
Georgetown ISD is the first district participating in YDSC in Texas to have both a drone class and a club. There was so much interest in the class that Mr. Thomas and Mr. Nikolaus had to cap the number of participating students. 18 students are in the class and 26 students are currently in the club. Many of those students, including Georgetown HS senior Collier Bryant, are members of both the class and the club.
“The class is made to focus more on the basics of drones and how they work in our lives,” Bryant said. “The club is more about learning how to fly drones and use the simulator.”
The curriculum of the drone class is intended to prepare students for the variety of opportunities that exist in the career field of drones. The students have to understand the aerodynamics and design of the technology before putting the drones into action. Whether it’s photography, aerospace engineering or power line inspection, there is something beneficial to be learned for every participating student.
“Something great about the drone class is that it truly does prepare you for life outside of school,” Georgetown HS senior Madison Williams said. “For me, I want to go out to California and pursue photography using the knowledge I have gained of working with drones.”
The machinery at the EIC provides drone students with support in the classroom as they prepare to race their drones. The simulator gives students a realistic imitation of what operating a drone is like, and each student must complete a successful lap under a set amount of time before flying their drone in real life. Then, the students use a 3D printer at the EIC to create the drones and bring their designs to life.
“We are always working with different machinery and learning the ins and outs of it all,” Georgetown HS senior Zach Miller said. “Mr. Thomas and Mr. Nikolaus are always there to help us through the process.”
While the need for drones in the workplace continues to grow, so do plans for the drone program here in Georgetown ISD. Thomas and Nikolaus have high hopes of expanding the program and inviting younger students to participate in the club, as well.
“My students are starting to say that their classes are getting in the way of their drone work,” Thomas jokingly said. “The kids love it, and the learning will prove to be quite beneficial in their future.”
This program was started, in part, with grant funds from the Georgetown ISD Education Foundation. Learn more about the grant process on their website.