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ECSU to form drone academy

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In this file photo from July, Kuldeep Rawat (left), director of Elizabeth State University's aviation science program, discusses ECSU's unmanned aerial vehicle curriculum with Harry Williams (center), president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Sean Burns, the college fund's government relations director. ECSU announced this week it had been awarded a $180,000 Burroughs Wellcome Fund grant to form a Drone Exploratory Academy for middle and high school students.

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From staff reports

Friday, November 30, 2018

If you want to learn to build, fly or use a drone, Elizabeth City State University could soon be the place to do it.

The university is already scheduled to start a bachelor’s degree program in drone studies next fall.

The campus also announced this week it’s received a grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for nearly $180,000 to form a Drone Exploration Academy for middle and high school students.

Kuldeep Rawat, director of ECSU’s aviation sciences program, said the academy will be designed to reach 240 students from across northeastern North Carolina over a three-year period.

The goal of the academy, according to Rawat, is to capitalize on the increasing popularity of drones in order to spark student interest in science, mathematics, engineering and technology — disciplines commonly referred to as STEM.

“Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, have become a popular recreational tool among youth, and are ideal platforms with enormous scientific value for engaging students in hands-on, inquiry-based learning,” Rawat said.

Students enrolled in the academy will learn drone design, programming, and piloting. The program will also feature an Engineering Design Challenge, engaging student teams in designing, building, and programming a drone, culminating in a competition on the ECSU campus at the end of each project year.

“Through hands-on project activities, students will be engaged in real-world engineering design and scientific investigation using drones,” Rawat said.

The academy will run throughout the year and include a summer residential camp. Throughout the school year, a Friday and Saturday program will also be offered. Guest speakers and field trips will also be included in the program curriculum.

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