Andrew Jackson

AJMA Drone Team

AJMS Drone Team Members

In September 2022, two teachers volunteered to sponsor a drone club being started at Andrew Jackson Middle School. Little did they know they would end up in Fairmont, West Virginia eight months later at the World Aerial Drone Competition.

Gillian Woodburn and Joe Gonzalez coach the Drone Team at Andrew Jackson Middle School. The drone team consists of two competition teams within a larger drone club for students that are interested in learning about drones. Students on the competition team compete in local Aerial Drone Competitions that include skills courses, teamwork (“alliance”) matches, and autonomous flight skills tests. Skills courses test a pilot’s speed and accuracy, alliance matches rely on teamwork and communication with another team to score goals in a field, and autonomous flight skills tests allow students to code drones to fly through obstacles to earn points. Drone team is not just for pilots; the team is home to a myriad of students that all play important roles. Pilots, coders, supports, and note-takers work together to earn the teams points at competition. All roles and students are equally important to our team.

When asked about his experience on the drone team, one anonymous student said, “It is very fun and working in tournaments with a team is awesome. Flying, coding, and writing are some of the things you can do there and you can learn coding, teamwork, or just have fun.”\

Last season, “Operation: Blackout”, was the first competition season for AJ. After a rocky beginning to the season, the students had one goal in mind: they wanted to win. Both groups came to practices ready to work and improve their skills. Runs got faster, communication improved immensely, and scores skyrocketed. Before they knew it, AJMS won first place at a world competition qualifying match, and both teams were invited to the World Aerial Drone Competition at Fairmont State University. The flight and coding teams gave every match their all, and ended qualifying rounds in the top half of teams at the competition. While they did not move on to the final rounds, they did begin planning for the next season with a new goal: make it to finals at Worlds.

The students have created something the whole school can be proud of, and began a legacy of excellence for the AJMS drone team. With new members and new challenges in the next season, “Eclipse”, the whole team is excited to get to work again. The coaches, students, families, and school could not be more proud, and are excited to see what the future has in store for the drone team.