Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary Engineering Students Take to the Sky

by Anne Donofrio-Holter

Montebello

Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary (CSHM) Engineering Club students took to the sky as they flew the school’s first radio-controlled drone over the campus grounds.
About the size of a model airplane, with four rotary helicopter-like blades and a camera, students, along with teacher Tim Marklevitz, followed the drone on foot as it soared overhead filming a student barbeque taking place on campus.
“Former principal David Chambers saw an admissions video for a school that featured aerial shots of the campus,” said Trevor Jackson, teacher and Engineering Club advisor.  “He wanted to try a similar project at CSHM and thought the engineering club would be a great group to try it.”
Approximately six of the club’s members, mainly women, took on the project which involved building the drone from a kit.
“I think the students were a little surprised at how easy a time they had assembling and programming the drone, and equally surprised at how difficult the actual job of flying it and getting quality film was,” said Jackson.
“It was somewhat difficult at first to fly, but once you got the hang of it, it became really fun,” said senior Briana Mercuri.
“Taking off is probably the hardest part,” added senior Olympia Miranda.
According to Jackson, after spending quite a bit of time learning to fly and control the drone, the students eventually swapped out the built-in camera that came in the kit with a GoPro camera “to reduce some of the jumpiness we got from the drone being blown around in the wind.”
The drone has three batteries with about 20 minutes of fly time per charge.  While the drone can soar to 1,000 feet, according to Jackson, that height is not recommended as you risk loss of contact with the drone and “bad things can happen.”
“Drones are currently unregulated, but they recommend staying under 700 feet,” he added.
While future uses for the drone are still under consideration, one of Marklevitz’s students, Aleceya Perez, used some of the footage for a graduation video highlighting the school year.
“We are going to be shooting some footage that we can hopefully use in promotion videos for the school,” said Jackson.  “One idea is to shoot a full tour of the campus with both overhead and ground-level shots to use on our website.”

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