Lone Star Section Joint Chapter (AESS/SMC/SYSC) Hosts Drone Lab Tour at St. Mary’s University

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To celebrate Engineering Week 2022, the IEEE Lone Star Section’s Joint Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, AESS, and Systems Council chapters held a drone lab tour at St. Mary’s University. The tour started with a presentation from Dr. Dante Tezza as seen in Figure 1. Dr. Tezza is an Assistant Professor of Computer and Software Engineering at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas and is the current Lone Star Section Vice-Chair for the AESS chapter. The presentation covered his initiatives in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) as the university. He discussed his involvement in the development of a new Bachelor's degree in Engineering Science with a concentration in UAS, the construction of the new UAS lab, and UAS summer camps available for local high-school students at St. Mary’s.

Following the presentation, a diverse group ranging from middle school students to retirees participated in an interactive demonstration of the drones. The demonstration consisted of balloons strategically placed around an obstacle course. The objective was for the operator to try to pop the balloons with a modified wooden shish kebab skewer affixed to the top of a small drone as seen in Figure 2. Participants jetted around the course at ramming speeds to see who could pop the most balloons. Students and professionals alike both enjoyed the balloon popping task with varying degrees of success. Nicole Webb (St. Mary’s) provided instructions on how to fly the DJI Tello drones using the smart phone interface show in Figure 3.

Concurrent with the demo, Dr. Dante Tezza showcased the various drones used for research in his laboratory. Dr. Ben Abbott (St. Mary’s) assisted Dr. Tezza by providing detailed explanations of the individual drones used for the research projects, as seen in Figure 4. From left to right Figure 5 displays (1) a quadcopter fully developed by St. Mary’s University students (from the 3d printed frame to the software architecture and control algorithms), (2) a racing FPV quadcopter capable of reaching over 100 miles per hour also built at the lab, (3) DJI Tellos, used to introduce students to UAS piloting and programming, and (4) Crazyflies drones, which Dr. Tezza and his students use for UAS swarm research. The event concluded with an obligatory drone selfie with event participants.