Gulf Coast State College teamed up with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Panhandle Area Education Consortium for a STEM camp focused on unmanned vehicles.
The camp draws attention to the unmanned vehicle system programs offered at both Gulf Coast State and Embry-Riddle, and allows middle and high school students to get first hand practice with drones, underwater vehicles and robots.
Jose Lopez-Baquero, the Program Manager for Unmanned Vehicle Systems Program at GCSC said the camp is great for promoting the program.
“They see what we have, they see all the toys, they see what equipment we have, the availability of systems and labs that we have, you can see the building. Advanced Technology center at Gulf Coast is one to none,” he said.
It even brought back high school alumni who attended the camp before. Matthew Rocha, a student at Embry-Riddle, said he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to use the drones.
“My brother said he was playing with drones and I was like cool. I know that Embry-Riddle and Gulf Coast have had their partnership between the two so I wanted to check that out and see how things are going since they do get to play with the drones here and we don’t,” he said.
Since Gulf Coast State College is the only college in Florida’s college system that offers Unmanned Vehicle Systems as a program, Lopez-Baquer said they want students to learn as much as possible.
“I’ll try to expose them to the different three areas. Maybe they’re more interested in ROVs for underwater, maybe they’re more interested in land vehicles..it gives them the opportunity to see what’s available for them,” he said.
Educators say it’s important that the younger students are exposed to this technology now since it will be a big part of their future.