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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | Aug. 25, 2021

Drone Camp: students learn about STEM, SparkX Cell

By Airman 1st Class Bridgitte Taylor 316th Wing Public Affairs

The Global Air Drone Academy hosted the first day of a two-Saturday Drone Camp program to provide local students with STEM-based, hands-on learning experiences using drone technology at the Community Commons here, Aug. 21, 2021. 

GADA, headquartered in Baltimore, is a curriculum-based 501(c)3 educational nonprofit that provides learning and training experiences to help drone pilots become licensed professionals. This includes activities such as drone building, racing, and coding and offers services including private tutoring, industry specific training and professional license training. 

“Our hope is to use drones to inspire young kids to enter career fields in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Victor Ekanem, GADA executive director. “We believe that STEM is life-changing in terms of careers. In a way, we trick kids into getting interested in STEM by using drones!”

About 30 students and five instructors attended last week’s Drone Camp. All students range in education level from elementary to high school and attend schools in District 8, the northeast region of Prince George’s County. The scholars were invited by Monique Anderson-Walker, District 8 Councilwoman, who presented the idea of Drone Camp being hosted at JBA to Col. Tyler Schaff, 316th Wing and JBA commander. 

The event was sectioned into multiple activities. Once the students arrived, the group started with introductions and then moved into drone instruction. The class learned pre-flight procedures, how to operate a drone controller, and how to construct a drone. After instruction, students flew the drones in a controlled space indoors.

At the end of the event, students toured the SparkX Cell Innovation & Idea Center to learn about the mission, daily operations and what equipment is used in the facility. 

“We believe JBA has a mission that is aligned with GADA’s mission: to impact students in a way that is meaningful to their lives,” said Ekanem. “Our goal of hosting Drone Camp here is that we can have this event be impactful to the students but also have them see the base as something they’d maybe like to work with in the future.”

Since 2016, GADA has taught over 8,000 students in more than 500 schools in nine countries. Over the summer of 2021, GADA has hosted more than 20 Drone Camps.