Drone program takes flight at Miami Sunset High School

Drone program takes flight at Miami Sunset High School
Drone program takes flight at Miami Sunset High School
Charles Redlund, Engineering Lead Teacher, is pictured with a drone.

Miami Sunset Senior High School is on the cutting edge of technology and this time that technology is airborne.

Miami Sunset is one of the few high schools in Miami-Dade County that is working with drones as part of their engineering programs. What makes this part of the curriculum so special, besides the fact that operating a flying object really is exhilarating, is the partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s duel enrollment program.

The program uses aviation and aerospace engineering to help give students hands-on experience on what it is like to work in the field of aeronautical science. The dual enrollment courses that are managed at the high school reflect the educational and theoretical orientations that the Embry-Riddle courses have to offer.

Five days a week, an instructor from the university comes in to teach Sunset’s students. Professor Jose Juncosa, who is a retired pilot, guides the students through two courses — Principles of Aeronautical Science and Flying Unmanned Flying Aircrafts — and each provides three college credits.

The Principles of Aeronautical Science is an introductory course that provides students with the foundation of flight-related education and fits in with all Aeronautical Science degree programs. Flying Unmanned Flying Aircrafts prepares students to manipulate robotic technology as well as go on specific missions through guided discussions and simulations of unmanned aircraft robotic systems. The best part about the dual enrollment program is that the courses are taught at Miami Sunset and don’t interfere with the high school schedule due to any additional time being used for transportation.

Miami Sunset’s engineering program, which is a part of the National Academy Foundation (NAF), has developed an outstanding robotics program as well. Once that was established, the school decided to take another step forward and has been making preparations over the past two years for the students to be able to learn how to fly drones.

As time as progresses, drones are making a bigger impact in society, being used for transportation, agriculture, and security, and a variety of other commercial needs. Because Drones are being used more on a daily basis, there will be a higher demand in the workforce for individuals with experience in drone-related areas. Through the engineering program, students can learn a variety of skills that will help them obtain certifications and jobs, including becoming licensed to fly drones themselves.

According to Mr. Charles Redlund, Engineering Lead Teacher, Miami Sunset currently has three battery-powered drones which have four propellers and can be operated either by smart phone or joy stick. “We are using the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Elite Edition which has a HD Camera (1280 x 720 pixels),” Redlund said. “We will be flying the drones in a few weeks but mainly during the Unmanned Flying Aircraft course being offered in January-May.”

Miami Sunset believes that once the word gets out about the drone program, many more students will flock to the school to be a part of something unique and to get their hands on technology that will literally change the way the world works in a variety of different ways.

“Our goal is to fly these drones up to 1,000 feet and be able to send them on trips to other high schools and beyond. The students are already working on flight simulators and we are currently purchasing all the things that are needed to make our vision a reality,” Redlund said. “It isn’t even nearly as expensive as you might think. This is a really exciting time for our program.”

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