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Drone demonstration for West Forsyth seniors surveys football field
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Stan Jessen with North Georgia Drones LLC gave a group of fourth-year engineering students at West Forsyth High School a demonstration in flying his drone. - photo by Kayla Robins

WEST FORSYTH -- A group of fourth-year engineering pathway students at West Forsyth High School recently had the chance to see a real-life application of their current project. Two even got to fly it.

Stan Jessen, chief pilot and president of North Georgia Drones LLC visited Anthony Tarantino’s class Wednesday to demonstrate how to fly a drone. The field trip to the Wolverines football field was the result of a talk he gave to the students last week.

“They’re building their own drones,” he said.

He flew his in a grid pattern about 150 feet above the field, programming it to take overlapping images that will be combined to make one high-resolution picture.

This type of drone-use is often used in surveying, he said, and is conducted like “plowing a field.”

Alec Manning and Ty Owings, seniors at the school on Drew Road, are the furthest along in building their drone.

It’s not flyable yet — but it’s close.

“It needs batteries, a controller,” Manning said.

They designed and created the blue arms and body of their drone with a 3D printer.

Manning said he doesn’t know whether he wants to use or build drones as his career, but that learning how is a good skill to know.

“It’s something I like diving into,” he said.

Jessen said the class is learning skills applicable to a myriad of engineering uses.

“To fly it they have to learn computer skills. To design it they have to have aerodynamics skills,” Jessen said.

Engineering is one of the career pathways offered at West in the district-wide (career, technical, agricultural and engineering) CTAE program, which connects schools to the business industry to provide real-life applications of skills necessary to enter the global marketplace.

The engineering track involves three courses that culminate in a capstone project, which allows students to “demonstrate their depth of knowledge of the engineering design process and prepare them for future opportunities in the field of engineering.”

Owings said he and his classmate plan to bring their drone, once completed, to Pensacola for a race — other students are building a full-size electric car to compete, and the drone will provide drivers updates on the half-mile track.

Both said they’ve enjoyed the process of learning how to build a drone together.

“We both have a pretty wide range of skill sets,” Manning said. “Between the two of us, we can pretty much always figure it out.”

“And if we can’t,” Owings said, “we know how to do the research to figure it out.”