OCCF funds Genoa High School’s inaugural Drone Racing Program

Genoa High School entered the drone age with a grant from the Ottawa County Community Foundation. Making up the Genoa Drone Team are (top, left to right) Savannah Wick, Nolan Weaver, Matt Robinson, Adam Vargo, Jacob Hart, Brandon Trumbull, Nick Weaver; (middle) Blaine Maluchnik, Nathan Uribes; and in front, Damyon Cruz.

The Genoa Area High School Technology Staff was eager to try Drone Racing this school year and, thanks to a grant from the Ottawa County Community Foundation (OCCF), 14 students joined the program, an Emerging Technologies Course guided by Matt Hirt, club advisor and a teacher in the Business/Technology Department.

“The kids have learned a great deal when it comes to teamwork and figuring out how to solve specific problems,” said Hirt. “Some students are better working with the drone itself, while others have been successful in programming the headset or transmitters. The students have done a good job in deciding what role works best for them and the team.”

The program has given students a chance to develop skills in technology, engineering, teamwork, creativity, and communication. Students learned about building, flying and maintaining a racing fleet of drones. To showcase their skills, the Drone Racing Team participated in interschool races during the second half of the school year.

During a competition, teams must maneuver their custom FPV (first person view) drones through, around, under, and over obstacles and complete two laps. The Genoa Drone Racing Pilot program, with team names such as the Boogaloosters, Twisted Metal and Bantam Jets, recently completed their inaugural season.

“We are happy with our final standings,” said team member Matthew Robinson. “Despite various technical difficulties, new equipment and tough competition, we surely cemented our standings as a fierce competitor in the drone racing world.”

The Ottawa County Community Foundation (ottawaccf.org) is a charitable organization that awards grants to local nonprofit agencies and organizations to improve the quality of life for those who live, work or visit the Ottawa County area. Grant applications for 2019 are currently being reviewed. Successful applicants will be announced at the Grant Awards Breakfast in June.

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