UAV Austin started off the season with the UAV Austin Training Camp, a three-week long educational program for our prospective members and any students interested in engineering.At UAV Austin's first training camp, interdisciplinary engineering skills were introduced to students from across a wide variety of schools and majors across campus. View more photos.

To kick of the fall semester, UAV Austin (UAVA), UT’s unmanned aerial vehicle team, hosted a three-week long training camp to help prospective members and the general student body become more familiar with engineering concepts. Students of all majors were invited, and approximately 100 students from across four schools and 12 different majors attended.

Shawn Lee, the 2018-2019 UAVA program manager, spearheaded the initiative after noticing a difference in knowledge gaps between new students and returning members.

“We redefined ourselves as an educational organization in order to not only train and educate the prospective members of UAVA, but also to spread STEM and engineering efforts all across campus,” Lee said.

Multiple interdisciplinary skills were taught at the camp, including computer-aided design, aircraft anatomy, coding and composite manufacturing. 

Lee says the new initiative will help UAVA accomplish two goals. First, to recognize that not everyone comes to college with the same level of education, and second, to spread STEM awareness to as many disciplines as possible.

“As an undergrad, a major is something that you declare and want to study—but what you want to do outside of class should not be restricted to what major you’re in,” Lee said.

Instead of attending engineering recruitment events, UAVA decided to attend campus-wide recruitments, accumulating more people from across multiple schools and majors to sign up for the camp each time.

However, training students who are unfamiliar with new engineering concepts needs to be done carefully, said Lee. UAVA members made a concerted effort to teach basic concepts using layman’s terms, so that prospective members could hopefully gain a better understanding of which track they might be more interested in—software or hardware.

Encouraging people to show up every day was important too, so giving them individualized attention was necessary to keep camp members motivated and interested.

“We make sure to give equal attention to every single prospective member regardless of their major,” Lee said. “A lot of the activities that we have during the training camp are group-based—that way hopefully they feel more included and enjoy the process.”

Professionalism is also an important skill that UAVA wants to share with its prospective and new members.

“We also emphasized the professionalism within the organization,” Lee said. “Our main goal is to nurture whoever joins the organization into becoming competent engineers. Past members of UAVA have gone on to do amazing things within the industry.”

UAV Austin is a student-led technical organization that specializes in fixed-wing unmanned aerial systems based at The University of Texas at Austin. With faculty mentorship from assistant professor Efstathios Bakolas, and support from the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, the organization partakes in building a semi-autonomous aircraft every year to compete in the Student Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) competition hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Seafarer Chapter in Maryland.

Our hands-on student projects like UAV Austin rely on external funding. To learn how to support our student teams, contact Bliss Angerman at 512-232-7085 or bliss.angerman@austin.utexas.edu or online at our online giving page.