Kevin Smith, MassRobotics STEM manager, joined representatives from Amazon Fulfillment Technologies & Robotics and Brown University on the campus of Howard University to kick off the most recent installment of the Amazon-sponsored Drone Academy, and Howard’s inaugural year hosting. This marks the 5 years since the idea of a Drone Academy started at MassRobotics in Boston, hosting the first program at the Dearborn STEM Academy (A Boston Public School) and followed by 4 years at the MassRobotics facility.  Two years ago MassRobotics extended an invitation to Hampton University faculty and students and last year Howard University joined the academy in Boston

MassRobotics recently kicked off its 6th Drone Academy and Hampton University will be hosting their 2nd cohort.  Students participating in the academy learn the foundations of soldering, electronics, flight controllers, aviation and aerospace, computer networking, regulations and safety procedure, and more; all while gaining expertise from educators and industry professionals.  

Brown University originally developed these particular drones for “on campus” educational experiences at Brown. Over several years, the drone kits have been refined to provide students with guided exposure to embrace the mind set and skill set of engineers. With the help of Duckietown, drones are able to be produced to serve the several Drone Academy sites.

“The kits implement components that open students to various technical directions. The Raspberry Pi allows students to explore computer science; but there are also mechanical, electrical, and aerospace concepts for students to dive into.” 

Jose Toribio TA for Drone Class @ Brown University

An objective of the academy is creating a foundation for tomorrow’s workforce.  Students who joined the Howard University drone academy in June had this to say:

“This experience has helped me improve so many different skills, and allowed me to understand the mistakes I’ve made in the past with electronics. The Academy was fun and engaging – I would recommend this program to everyone I know.” 

Esther Lewis – Maryland, Duval High School

“This was the first experience that made me feel connected to a group of individuals that look like me in STEM… We all connect and laugh about it. It’s fun to be around people that want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

Skylar Sprat – Chicago, Kenwood Academy High School 

Thank you to all contributors to this program:

  • Amazon Fulfillment Technologies and Robotics for their annual support
  • Duckietown for ensuring that every student has access to quality equipment
  • Brown University for the constant technical support inputting drones airborne
  • Howard University and Howard University Robotics Organization (HURO) for hosting the event and facilitating the learning.