Wallace State hosts inaugural Cullman County Drone Race Friday

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Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Cullman County Schools seventh grades took part in the first Cullman County Drone Race at Wallace State on Friday in an obstacle course designed by the University of Alabama at Huntsville’s Systems Management and Production Center (SMAP).

The young students honed their piloting skills through the courses with their hands on their controllers and eyes to the future.

With prizes provided by SMAP and a partnership with TSE Brakes, the event was abuzz with activity, energy and drones zooming about the auditorium.

Mike Gay, Engineering and Technology instructor at Cullman Area Technical Academy, discussed the origins of the drone race.

“Dr. Shane Barnette made a very strong commitment a few years ago to increase our activity in STEM. That led us to get the drone curriculum and all the drones that the kids are flying today. The way the curriculum is set up, they learn the basics of the drones and how they fly in a computer science class. They use computer science fundamentals with the drones. They have some obstacles that they practice with at their schools. They determined their best two teams, and those two teams are representing their schools today.”

Gay has worked on the competition rules and obstacles since January and provided the area school teams with the information in mid-April.

“Dr. Gary Maddox, our SMAP director, likes to do outreach where we go out into the schools and show them what all we do. When Mike Gay contacted us and told us what he was doing we were very excited about it. Our team took on the project,” shared SMAP’s Ishella Fogle.

Secondary Curriculum Coordinator Ms. Lindsey said, “Dr. Barnette has a big focus on STEM education and bringing the best opportunities to our students to prepare them for jobs that haven’t even been created yet. We wanted to focus on middle school. This is the first year that our middle schools have offered computer science to our students. He came across the program LocoRobo Drones. We purchased 25 drones for each middle school and the curriculum. The curriculum focuses on careers that use drones as well as how to pilot and maneuver a drone most efficiently. The best culmination of that curriculum is the district wide drone competition.”

Winners in the inaugural competition included:

First place – Good Hope Middle School team one members Noah May and Jaxon Daniel

Second place – Vinemont Middle School team two members Alex Castillo and Larson Heaton

Third place – Harmony School team two members Braxton Monk and Cooper Harris

Flawless Pilot and Ace Pilot – Cold Springs team one members Carson Rice and Jaxson Swann

Fastest time – Harmony School team two at 30.9 seconds

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