The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) is launching a new drone program to encourage teamwork, competition, and success through a STEM-based education platform. The new UAS4STEM program will provide student teams of four to eight people with training, insurance, licensing, and equipment to compete in search-and-rescue challenges. Kits for the program will be available in the fall.

Similar to the robotics programs currently available to middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities, the UAS4STEM program will allow students to learn while they have fun and enjoy working as a team. Student teams will receive the training and equipment to ensure safe operations.

For the first year of competition, the challenge for each team will be search and rescue based. The mission is as follows: A small group of hikers has gone missing in a remote area. Although rescuers have determined a search area, they are unsure of the exact location and conditions of the hikers. Teams have to provide rapid responses using a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) that can support the search-and-rescue mission.

To get started, all teams will be required to complete an online curriculum to endure that all students have learned about multirotor safety before attempting to fly. After the students have passed the online portion of the program, the complete kit will ship. Students must then build their aircraft and test-fly it. The online video series helps ensure success while reducing risk.

Competitions will be held at AMA flying sites in the spring of 2016. The cost for the team is $1,995, which includes licenses for each student, a Quadzilla quadcopter kit, all necessary support equipment except laptop computer, a full online curriculum, an online video series, AMA memberships for the students, and competition entry fees. Teams can register by clicking here.

The program will be managed by the Academy of Model Aeronautics’ education team as part of AMA Flight School.