Jacoby Hurtado wants to be an engineer when he grows up.
“I like to see how things work,” the Garden City High School freshman-to-be said on Tuesday.
Hurtado was one of the participants in GCHS’ first ever drone camp that lasted all last week. What Hurtado learned during the camp will help him pursue an engineering career, he said.
“Here, when we’re working with drones, I get to learn how to code and how to figure out everything to make it hover from the computers and learn how to build a controller for the drone,” Hurtado said. “I just thought it would really be fun to try out the camp. It’s really helping me a lot.”
Yuriy Drubinskiy, GCHS math teacher, Robotics Club adviser and instructor of the drone camp, said participants were ninth through 12th graders and the camp had a total of 15 participants.
“I thought I would extend what we were doing with the younger kids to high school kids, and drones is a pretty good avenue to do that,” Drubinskiy said as the reason why he decided to host a drone camp.
“A couple things about drones is we can have CAD (Computer Aided Design), so that gets the kids looking at how can you create your own drone frame. That’s kind of a big part of it that I wanted to incorporate (in the camp,” Drubinskiy said. “The other part is learning the electronics. Drones are fairly simple, but they’re very cool to bring it all together and fly them.”
During the camp, participants soldered and designed their own motor boards and built their own body for their drones, as well as practiced landing them in different zones and through various obstacle courses.
“There’s always something cool about watching something you designed fly around the room,” Drubinskiy said.
Another aspect of the camp was looking at the aerodynamics of the drones — what makes them fly, how to control the flight as well as coding flight orders or patterns. Students learned how to code the drones to do things autonomously, and were tasked to think about what the connection is to the real world.
Students also had to look at the aerodynamics of the drones and design it based off the weight of the frame and the best design to fly them, which they did with 3D printing.
“It gets them to think about applied problem solving and look at what’s going wrong,” Drubinskiy said.
Tristan Clark, a GCHS ninth grader-to-be, said he participated in the robotics camp last summer and wanted to come back this year to learn more.
“I had a lot of fun last year and thought I’d learning something new with the drone piloting this year,” Clark said.
Anthony Taboada was another ninth grader-to-be and participant of the camp. He said he traveled all the way from Illinois for the camp. Taboada is also the nephew of camp instructors Yuriy and Sarah Drubinskiy, so coming to Garden City for the week allowed him to learn at the camp, as well as visit family, he said.
“I think it’s really fun to play with drones and figure out how they work, how they code, and other stuff,” Taboada said.
One thing he learned at the camp was that drones have limits.
“One of the videos that Mr. Drubinskiy showed us is that drones can work together in a limited space,” Taboada said. “They can take different jobs to do at a certain time, which is really cool.”
One of the jobs that drones are starting to be used for are filming movie scenes.
Alex Carrillo, a GCHS senior-to-be, said drones are becoming real big in military use, too.
Taboada noted he’s been thinking about going into the engineering field.
“It seems like a field I could go into,” he said. “Just the way drones work, I think it is really interesting, like how they can be used instead of planes because they can hover around more easily.”
Carrillo who was another participant in the camp, said he decided to attend the camp because it was a new learning experience.
“Instead of programming something on four wheels, why not something that goes in the air? Over here, you don’t see much of that so it’s something new,” Carrillo said as another reason he decided to attend the camp.
One thing Carrillo enjoyed about the camp was figuring out how the drones work, and pushing them to their limits, he said.
Both Taboada and Hurtado said one of challenges of the camp was coding and programming the drones.
“Programming and coding is a little difficult to do, but once you get the hang it, it gets a little easier,” Taboada said. “The details in coding is really important too, because even if you add a little space into it, it may not accept it.”
Drubinskiy said because the drone camp was held indoors, in the Trade and Health Academy of GCHS, there were no Federal Aviation Administration regulations to fly the drones.
“Indoors its not part of the airspace, so we can fly as we want,” he said. “If we were flying outdoors — which we wouldn’t be able to because of the wind — I think it’s under 400 grams they don’t have to be registered, so we’re good there.”
Prior to the drone camp, there was a robotics camp at GCHS from July 17 to the 21 for third through seventh graders. During that camp, students experienced designing and building robots and competed with their robotic creations against other teams.
Drubinskiy said the camps would not be possible with the Western Kansas Community Foundation for providing a $3,200 grant.
Both Hurtado and Clark said they would recommend the camp to those that are interested in them or like to build things.
"It’s really fun for anyone that likes robotics and mechanical things," Hurtado said.
“If you want to go into a job with mechanics or engineering, this is a good place to start,” Clark said.
Contact Josh Harbour at email@example.com