• Multinational UAV Challenge inspiring aviators of tomorrow

    October 17, 2019

    In a field outside of Brisbane last weekend, 14 high school teams from across Australia and the United States gathered to put their hand-built or modified unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the test.

    The teams were competing to gain points for navigating a set tasks and safely completing an in-flight drop of a medical package to “Joe” who was suffering an allergic reaction.

    In reality the competition achieves much more.

    “It exposes students to the safe operation of their aircraft, programming and design skills, and providing the chance to practice presentation, project and time management skills,” said Brendan Williams, founding committee member and Boeing Research & Technology – Australia Associate Technical Fellow.

    “Each year we are surprised by the teams’ novel approaches and enthusiasm to apply important possible life saving civilian applications of UAVs, and we’ve been able to grow that learning globally with the inclusion six US-based teams.”

    Australia, with its wide open spaces and progressive regulator creates an ideal location for young people to be exposed to UAVs, science and technology.

    “We see it as a key STEM engagement program to inspire students to consider a career in the aerospace industry,” said Andrew Duggan, managing director of Insitu Pacific. “Through this particular competition we’ve had students who loved their time in the UAV challenge during high school move through the pipeline to complete university degrees in aerospace or engineering and gone on to join us through internships or graduate programs.”

    Now in its 12th year, the Queensland Government Airborne Delivery Challenge 2019 is a key event in the Gateway Schools Program calendar. As a founding member of the Program, and the UAV Challenge, Boeing recently supported the engineering and aerospace reviews of the new syllabus, which is now in its first year.

    For those Gateway School members, such as Mueller College in Redcliffe, the UAV Challenge Day is “the realization of many long months of planning and learning” achieved as part of the aviation syllabus and as well as after school clubs.

    “The UAV Challenge provides our students the opportunity to take the theory and problem solving from the classroom and put it into practice,” said Anthony Banks, Aerospace Systems and STEM teacher, Mueller College. “It’s rewarding to see students learn to recognise the value of completing mission check lists, and the importance of testing and refining their solutions to make improvements to their design.”

    Congratulations to Mojave Hawks from Pete Knight High School in California, USA who won the overall prize and to Canberra UAV Junior, an independent team, who received the Insitu Pacific sponsored “Airmanship Award”. Rescue Raccoons from Mueller College, Redcliffe (an Aviation Gateway School) finished in second place, with Wrong Brothers from Marist College Ashgrove in third. The Wrong Brothers also received the inaugural “Innovation Award”.