Once a club for airplane enthusiasts (people who fly manned gliders), the Aviation Club has been resurrected with a focus on unmanned aerial systems, colloquially referred to as “drones.”
Under the leadership of undergraduate students Kiana Jane and Bronson Gardner, the club is working to get their charter paperwork through in the Fall 2016 semester with the aim of hosting the first East Coast intercollegiate drone races in Spring 2017. These first races will be based on a sub-50-gram, sub-25-milliwatt, race platform which requires no registration with the FAA, FCC, or any other aviation government agencies. The goal would be to hold small-scale races on a tennis court-sized venue, against other schools developing similar racing programs. The value of this in the convergence of technologies, from 3D printing to virtual reality to embedded systems to signals to soldering. Nearly the entire Maker toolset can be used in a single project, which makes drone racing a valuable cross-training tool for any type of R+D. The goal here is similar to First Robotics. Why don’t we have science teams competing like sports teams, where at the end of the season everyone at the end of the team can go pro?