TU Pilots brings together the STEM majors

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Taylor STEM majors are curious and innovative students who use all the resources they can as an educational investment in their future. They conduct large-scale research, ask probing and thoughtful questions, pursue step-by-step processes, and go beyond what is required.

Senior Engineering computer Science Major Calvin Ochs joined Taylor with two years of experience building, programming and piloting drones. His search for extracurricular activities in this area of ​​interest inspired him to run a club on campus—TU Drivers– which brings together several majors to work with drones and remote-controlled planes. He and his team are proud of the progress they have made in growing the club and are grateful for the experience they have gained.

Explore new horizons

When Ochs approached the computer science and engineering professor Stefan Brandle on creating a club around drones, Brandle encourages him to pursue the idea. Ochs reflected on a few goals for the club, which initially included building and programming drones, learning the aerodynamics of how drones stay in the air, and exploring flight using artificial intelligence (AI). . The club is also reviewing US rules for flying drones so they can fly responsibly.

Since then, TU Pilots has grown from five people at Calvin’s residence to a team of over 15 members from various majors. Although most of the members are STEM students, the club also contacted Film and media production majors interested in drone photography and videography.

Ochs said he had the support of professors who helped make TU Pilots a reality. He appreciates how he can always approach his teachers with a problem because they are willing to solve it with him.

“All of the professors I have been in contact with on the engineering and IT side have been more than open and willing to help with the TU pilots and other projects I have worked on, qu ‘they are in progress or not,’ says Ochs. “One of the things that I really, really liked about the CSE department and Taylor STEM is the number of hands-on projects and how much it is encouraged.

TU Pilots is now in the initial stages of adding drone racing to club opportunities. Ochs said their next steps would be to qualify for a college drone racing league.

Let’s talk technology

Like a Engineering computer Science major, Ochs enjoys the construction and design aspect of the club. He finds the sides of building mechanical and electrical circuits rewarding and is currently working on a custom flight controller that they can program from scratch.

Junior Computing Major Isaac Wickham thinks TU Pilots is not just fun but relevant. He is vice president of TU Pilots and has said that a level of drone knowledge is useful for anyone interested in a career in tech.

Wickham was exposed to electronics, robots, programming and the technological language from an early age, having been involved in a robotics club since fifth grade. He joined the drone club to continue pursuing his passion and hopes to continue to get involved with drones and RC planes in the future.

“The way the world is moving with technology, there is a massive need for STEM students,” Wickham said. “We’re going to need more people who can figure out how to program, more people who can understand the engineering behind X, Y, or Z, more people who can do advanced math … the world needs more people like that. “

Wickham added that drone pilot training can be useful in several contexts. Drones can be used in agriculture to survey the land, for example, or for entertainment like light shows. made by Intel.

For junior IT and Mathematics Major Jeff Jewitt, TU Pilots is an outlet for anyone with a programming hobby. Jewitt is the club’s software manager and has a particular interest in autonomous AI drone flight.

Using Python, Jewitt wants to program his drone to interpret the world and adapt to what he sees through a video stream, for example to follow a red ball and move towards the red pixels that appear in it. ‘screen. Its objective is to fly drones with a minimum of human manipulation via a controller.

The sky is the limit for STEM majors

Jewitt joined TU Pilots in his first year. Now, in his sophomore year, he believes the experience he already gained at Taylor played a role in his acceptance of an internship at Amazon.

“On my first tour here, Taylor’s IT department really stood out for me because of all the projects they are working on,” Jewitt said. “I had read articles about their satellite projects and seen the drone room and it looked like Taylor’s sci-fi department was really handy. Work with TU pilots and work on the satellite project this past spring and fall have greatly contributed to my development and to putting what I have learned into practice.

Ochs, Wickham, and Jewitt’s advice to students considering a career in STEM is to try new things, even if those new things are opportunities they create for themselves. They also emphasized the value of the real world experience for resumes and personal development.

“Taylor definitely prepared me well for my internship on Amazon,” Jewitt said. “The more projects you make and the more you put into practice, the more successful you will be in the workplace.”

Interested in Taylor’s engineering and technology fields? Read about these majors on our STEM page.



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