The top trophy at the Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship held on April 15th at Purdue University was received by three engineering students. It is the first year that a national championship has been organized so that pilots of unmanned aircraft can compete against each other at the college level.
Twenty-seven universities fielded groups of pilots who navigated obstacle courses flying custom-designed drones. A pilot’s precision and speed were tested by the course designed for this purpose.
Georgia Tech was headed by aerospace engineering major Nick Willard, who flew in the final race to seal the victory. Willard participates in a number of non-collegiate Drone Racing League events. He has also won racing events televised on ESPN. Drone racing enthusiasts refer to him as “Wild Willy.”
Seth Ableidinger and Davis Engelman joined Willard. These two mechanical engineering majors held strong in preliminary races and helped Georgia Tech get a solid lead.
Georgia Tech won the first place among the field because of the combined times and rankings of these two mechanical engineering majors with that of Willard’s.
The second place was secured by the University of California, Berkeley, with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University securing the third place, and host Purdue University taking up the fourth place.
A total of $15,000 in equipment and prizes was brought home by the Georgia Tech team.