Local drone club scores in Vermont’s first aerial competition

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2024 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Riverside Middle School’s Dressel Gym was buzzing on Saturday with the sounds of competition as teams from Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts competed in Vermont’s first Aerial Drone Competition. The competition is sponsored by The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation.

Fifteen teams – including four from the River Valley Technical Center and four from the Riverside Middle School, both located in Springfield — competed, showing off their their drone piloting, programming and communication skills throughout the day.

The competition consisted of several tests — or missions carried out by the teams. For example, in the teamwork mission a team has 90 seconds to accomplish several tasks including one where the drone’s pilot cannot see the drone and must rely on a teammate’s instructions. Points are awarded for each task completed and at the end of the mission a referee reviews them with the team to be sure they agree.

After some preliminary rounds, the top eight teams pair off into “alliances” to compete against each other in the finals.

GM students Summer Steinberg of Chester and Seairra Stowell of Londondery competed on an RVTC team

GM students Summer Steinberg of Chester and Seairra Stowell of Londonderry competed on an RVTC team. All photos by Shawn Cunningham.

Three students from Green Mountain High in Chester – Michael Rose, Summer Steinberg and Seairra Stowell – competed with Stowell and Steinberg being part of a team that, while not finishing in the final eight, received special recognition with the Judges Award.

Tenth graders Steinberg, of Chester, and Stowell, of Londonderry, say they’ve only been part of the RVTC Drone Club for about a month, but both are enthusiastic about it. Steinberg said she came to the tech world from gaming, computers and coding.  Stowell became interested in robotics after seeing Battle Bots, which also influenced her choice of high schools

“The reason I went to GM is because my brother went there and said there was a tech class,” said Stowell referring to RVTC.

“I really didn’t know about the tech center until a couple of my friends did pre-tech last year,” said Steinberg, who noted that the Drone Club is something she really looks forward to after school.

“It’s a lot less stress than I used to have,” says Stowell. “It’s more interesting at the tech center, more engaging.”

High-flying results

The field of play

The field of play.

According to robotics coach Chris Gray, who teaches at Riverside, the RVTC/Riverside teams took three of the eight trophies awarded and were invited to several other tournaments taking place this spring. One of the teams qualified for the Firefly National Drone Championships in Fairmont, W. Va., to be held in May.

Among the awards going to the Springfield-based teams were:

  • Sam Bailey, Emma Moye and Amanda Chumba — Excellence Award for Overall Tournament Champions and  Teamwork Award for Highest Alliance Score on Teamwork Mission in Finals – 112 points
  • William Fletcher, Seairra Stowell and Summer Steinberg — Judges Award for special recognition.
  • Honorable Mention to Carter Fox, Landon Webster and Coltrane Tallman for making it to the semi-final round of four teams.
  • Honorable Mention to Bella Stillings, Adler Gleeson and Fiona Lewis for making it to the quarterfinal round of eight teams.
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