In its inaugural year, the Belmont Hill Drone Club won the Drones in Schools National competition. In late April, they headed down to Orlando to compete against ten other teams from around the country. The team’s first event was the head-to-head racing against other teams, in which Belmont Hill placed first, thanks to the expert drone flying skills of Chris Brusie ’23. They also competed in a 2v2 game of capture the flag but weren’t as successful, only winning one matchup. They also competed in other categories, including design and engineering, portfolio and display, and video presentation, the latter of which they won with an exquisitely edited video by Jack Shah ’23. After the main events, the drone team was allowed to explore other booths in the showroom, examining models of prototype drones, military drones, and even a remote-controlled nuclear missile. On the last day of the trip, Mr. Ziff treated their hard work with a round of Go-Kart racing.
The drone club is open for anyone to stop by, but those who went on the trip included were Chris Brusie, Jack Shah, Aaron Green, Jack Dyer, and Connor Smirl. Brusie took the role of pilot and lead designer, creating the drone’s frame in a 3D modeling software and then assembling it with the mechanical components. Shah was the graphic designer, making the video presentation, team logo, and booth display. Green oversaw the team’s progress, ensuring that everyone met deadlines and kept track of materials needed and events scheduled. Dyer was the marketing coordinator, working with the team’s new sponsor and reaching out to other groups interested. Smirl was the manufacturing engineer, and he worked with Brusie to design the drones and test each prototype to ensure it functioned properly.
While the championship title was exciting, the team also learned a lot to improve on in the future. Brusie said that “teamwork is most important.” Communication and synergy allow for a group of individuals to work together effectively, and he hopes to improve on that for next year. He is looking to grow the upper school program next year and start a middle school section to increase engagement. He would also like to move from the Drones in School competition to the multiGP, the professionalized partner, for a better experience. Many team members were new to the sport, including Shah, who “learned a lot more about drones.” He emphasized the opportunity available and the new-comer friendly atmosphere. Another was Smirl, whose goals for next year are simply “Win again.”
For its first year in nationals, let alone a club, the Belmont Hill Drone team exceeded expectations and is looking to fly even higher for next year. New members are always welcome and if you’re on the fence, stop by the makerspace to try out the newly installed Drone Flight Simulator. The Panel congratulates the Drone Team on a great season and wishes them luck for next year.