Two-person teams from schools across the region converged on Noosa Leisure Centre last Saturday to test their drone racing skills.
It was the culmination of a unique five-week “Flying Inventor” training program to give the students a taste for careers in engineering and computer science.
Students learnt how to design, build, fly and race first-person view quadcopters, which are not your standard plug and play drones.
“First-person view racing is one of the most exciting things you can do with a drone. One of the world’s fastest growing new sports, drone racing uses special first-person-view goggles, to give flyers a first person view from the drone’s camera as they fly around a race track avoiding obstacles and fellow competitors. It’s the closest you can get to being a bird!” says Tracey King, Noosa Council’s Literacy and Learning Coordinator.
Each school nominated teams of two students from Year 9 or 10 who showed talent and interest in drones and new technology.
Teams from Good Shepherd, Sunshine Beach, Coolum State High School and Victory College competed in the final with the team of Lincoln Favelle and Will McGarry from Good Shepherd Lutheran College winning gold medals. Ben Lockwood and Kevin Varghese from Victory College and Elijah Keegan and Ethan Bischoff from Sunshine Beach State High School came in second and third place, winning silver and bronze medals.
“While race day was fun, it’s also serious business,” says Tracey. “Students were taught about mechanical engineering and the fundamental computer science of drones, before taking to a simulator to learn how to fly them. The aim of this program is to inspire youngsters to pursue careers in computer science and invention.”
Noosa Library Service partnered with Council’s Peregian Digital Hub and a range of local industry professionals to deliver the training and race day. The program was assisted by local computer scientist and engineer – Malte Von Ruden, a drone pilot and photographer – Eamon Kriz from ‘In the Air Cinematography’ and his colleague Connor Middleton (both year 11 students), a local sculptor – Matt Godden and 3D artist Hannah Crosby plus Central Queensland University and simulator software company Lugus Studios.
The Flying Inventor Program is supported by an Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grant.