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  • Charl Jooste

Press Release: SATO Drone Team Advances the UAS4Stem National Championship


The SATO Academy Drone Team needs donations to help the members travel to nationals in Indiana this August. Click here to donate.

The SATO Academy of Mathematics and Science is a new public high school focused on STEM education and located in Long Beach, CA. The Aerospace Engineering teacher, Mr. Albert Gallo started the “Drone Team” by challenging five of his students to participate and signed them up for the AMA’s national UAS4STEM competition. The team had some flying experience but had never built a drone before.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics new UAS Competitive Educational Program is called UAS4STEM. This program is designed to encourage teamwork, competition, and success through a STEM-based education platform. The new UAS4STEM program will provide student teams of four to eight people with training, insurance, licensing, and equipment to compete in search-and-rescue challenges. Kits for the program will be available in the fall of 2015. Much like the popular robotics programs currently available to middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities, the UAS4STEM program will allow students to learn while they have fun and enjoy working as a team. Student teams will receive the training and equipment to ensure safe operations.

Photo: SATO Academy

SATO students received a small unmanned system in the form of a box of unassembled components and then learned how to assemble and build the frame, solder the power system and configure electronic components into a working quadcopter. The work did not stop once the drone was built as the students delved into a world of software and hardware discovering that in order to get the various subsystems working they had to learn the critical engineering skills of troubleshooting, isolation and configuration management. We then formed a flight team and assigned roles for each of our five SATO Academy scholars:

· Tasha oversees Ground Operations and manages the equipment

· Bence is a pilot, spotter and visual observer, monitoring our real-time video feed broadcast from the copter and identifying points of interest

· Jacob owns Flight Operations and ensures the airworthiness of the platform including airspace management

· Eddie is our pilot responsible for takeoffs, landings and manual maneuvers

· Melissa is our Mission Commander and responsible for mission planning and execution

Finally, the team assembled safety mechanisms that are common to aerospace such as checklists, along with detailed processes and operational procedures. The team learned and tested their aeronautics engineering skills with a focus on safe operations, navigation and flight planning. The five engineering students had to learn how to plan and execute safe flight operations and autonomous missions. After a few crashes and many late nights, the team was ready for the competition.

The mission was to assemble a rapid response small Unmanned Aircraft System to support a Search and Rescue. The flight team must develop and execute the mission plan complying with special instructions for takeoff and landing and are tasked with searching for items of interest and conducting point reconnaissance in thirty minutes or less. These skills will be highly sought after as the UAS industry expands.

Congratulations to the SATO Drone Team Dragons as they advance on Muncie Indiana and the National Competition on August 19 - 20, 2017!

Contact: Will Chesher Drone team mentor: 562.252.5663

Contact: Albert Gallo, Aerospace Engineering teacher at SATO: 562.714.4745

Contact: Archie Stafford, Academy of Model Aeronautics:

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