Columbia State Adds Quadcopters to Curriculum


Photo Caption:
Some of the items used in the engineering classes at Columbia State are the Spectrum DX6, Phoenix R/C simulators, Blade Nano QX quadcopter, Blade 200 QX quadcopter, and the Tarot X6, which has six motor and propellers.


Photo Caption:
Pictured, left to right: Marlene Garcia and William Sannella. 

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – April 15, 2015) - - - Columbia State Community College’s engineering classes have recently implemented the instruction and use of unmanned aerial systems into its curriculum, and pre-engineering majors Marlene Garcia and William Sannella can be seen flying them around campus.

“When people think of engineering, the first thing that comes to mind is math,” Sannella said. “Math is a big part of it, but we want to show application. There are millions of applications, and these UAS are now being used by companies such as Amazon and Dominos. People are strapping GoPro cameras to them and making movies.”

Also known as drones or quadcopters, UAS are being used for aerial imagery, photography and mapping, search and rescue, emergency medical response and delivery systems. Other applications of UAS include inspections of roofs, power lines and places too dangerous for humans to enter.

Sannella and Garcia explained that UAS are also used in physics for pitch, velocities, acceleration, lift, radio frequencies, and materials used in aircraft design and flight characteristics or dynamics, as well as software programming and other areas. 

“Recently Marlene and William acted as student representatives for Columbia State at the Career and Technical Fair for area high school seniors visiting the campus to learn of opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields,” said Dr. Glenn Hudson, associate professor of mathematics. “Both Marlene and William are excellent examples of the kinds of students enrolled at the college and the abilities that are possessed by the students.”

Garcia and Sannella have also been actively involved in developing an activity for the STEM “Girls Really Love Science” event to be held at the college on Saturday, April 18. This event will draw approximately 300 girls who will see first-hand demonstrations of educannons, rockets and quadcopters during one of the activities scheduled at the event. 

Sannella and Garcia both noted that they are excited to see events like STEM GiRLS taking place in order to build interest in STEM careers for young women.

“We need more women in STEM fields, especially engineering,” Sannella commented. “Men and women think differently, so the possibilities of what we can come up with together in engineering are endless.”

Garcia added that engineering is such an in-demand field, and it is very broad with something for everyone.

“Women in STEM can really benefit society. Keep doing it and just dedicate yourself to something that you really like. Don’t force yourself to do something just because of the money,” Garcia said. “Find something that you’re going to connect with, and explore your options.”

Hudson noted that Sannella has been directly involved in the addition of the UAS to the engineering classes at Columbia State.

“William is a calm and mature student with an infectious positive attitude and likability who has been actively involved in the development of the remote control flight programs that the college has recently undertaken,” Hudson said. “Through primarily his interest, effort and expenditure of personal time, he has helped to design, develop and implement new equipment and procedures for lab work in physics and pre-engineering courses this semester at Columbia State.”

Sannella, a Nashville resident, is a pre-engineering student at Columbia State who is planning to major in mechanical engineering at Tennessee Technological University. He hopes to start a robotics company someday and produce various applications for robots that are too dangerous for humans to complete.

“Marlene is active and engaged in her physics and engineering classes she is taking.  She is very mature for her age and quite thoughtful and kind in demeanor,” Hudson said.  “I think she will be a strong engineer and an asset to her employer as well as her institution.”

Hudson added that Garcia is extremely focused and performing well in the pre-engineering curriculum and that she is “holding her own” in a still mostly male dominated field.

Garcia, a Franklin resident, is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year honor society, and the President’s Leadership Society at Columbia State. She is unsure of where she will transfer after completing her associate degree but said she will continue her studies in mechanical engineering.

There are limited spaces available for Saturday’s STEM GiRLS event. For additional information and to register, visit www.ColumbiaState.edu/STEM-GiRLS. Registration is open until filled and is for female 6th, 7th and 8th grade girls in Giles, Hickman, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall, Maury, Perry, Wayne and Williamson Counties.

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee’s first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, one of the largest higher education systems in the nation. For more information, please visit www.columbiastate.edu

Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at tncommunitycolleges.org.

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