FOR RELEASE: IMMEDIATE October 3, 2017
New Hartford Drone First in Flight
The Mohawk Valley has delivered a number of firsts when it comes to drone technology and New Hartford Central School has added to that list. A state-of-the-art drone flew during last Friday’s football game, making New Hartford the first school district statewide to officially fly a drone during a scholastic sporting event.
Inspired by the groundbreaking partnerships being forged at Griffiss Business Park with local firms, NASA, and Walmart, the district plans to enhance current student programs with drone technology. As Superintendent of Schools Robert Nole noted, New Hartford wants to provide students access to such sophisticated technology to get in on the ground floor of a major tech trend with significant local focus.
“Today’s students need to be prepared for a future that will have careers and discoveries yet to be imagined,” Nole explained. “Some of the most cutting edge technology is being developed in our students’ own backyard, and our hope at New Hartford is to help students develop a genuinely informed understanding about technology in their lives.”
Creating a program to bring such sophisticated technology to campus has been a team effort. Members of the district’s STEAM committee have worked with private industry, state athletic officials, and local colleges to make drone flight a reality on campus. Tech firm A/X Enterprize, now participating in drone research at Griffiss, has consulted the district on aspects of safe and effective drone use as a community partner in the district’s STEAM initiative. New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director Robert Zayas consulted with school administrators to ensure that the use of drones during scholastic athletic events complied with state policies.
Professor William Judycki, who is teaching the first generation of drone technicians and pilots in a new drone program at Mohawk Valley Community College, is helping the New Hartford develop the proper structure for the educational use of drones. His college students, as well as members of the CNY Drones, will mentor students and faculty to pursue drone licenses sanctioned by the Federal Aviation Administration. “Drones are here to stay--especially in this region,” Judycki said, “and now it is up to us to teach students how to use drones in a way that makes sense for everyone.”
The drone is currently being used as a learning tool by the school’s Audio-Visual Club, since the drone is outfitted with a high-tech camera. The club is an extracurricular activity that provides students with real-life experience in broadcast journalism that has become a font of college and career placement for students pursuing a career in media. “The drone camera is going to provide a lot of easier footage, and a lot more freedom,” said New Hartford senior Willie Rahn. Rahn operates the cameras for many student broadcasts. “Our viewers will enjoy the variety of the perspectives we can now give them.” Students hope to enhance spectator experiences not only at athletic events, but Marching Band competitions and major campus events.
Drone technology is also part of the course syllabus for the district’s new Emerging Technologies Course at the Senior High. The Emerging Technologies course is part of a district-wide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) initiative. “We’re preparing students for the next leap in the technologies that will affect their daily lives,” said Michael Amante, the Emerging Technology Teacher at New Hartford Senior High. “I’m looking forward to sharing the abundant opportunities that drone and related technologies will have for my students.”
“This is really robotics at its best,” New Hartford Technology Director CJ Amarosa said. “The technology involved with a drone blends together so many different aspects of what students are learning in the STEAM field. And now they’ll get to see it and work with it all first hand.”
Robert J. Nole
Robert J. Nole
Superintendent of Schools