By Christine Negron
At a Girls in Aviation Day event in Manhattan, a drone pilot, Loretta Alkalay, commanded the attention of everyone in the audience as she launched a quad copter into the air and held it in a hover. The students, ages 12 to 17, looked eager to give it a try. And that is the point.
Ms. Alkalay, a lawyer and an instructor in drone law at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in East Elmhurst, Queens, is one of a growing number of educators enthusiastic about the way drones make new technology accessible, encouraging students to study subjects they might otherwise not consider.
“From programming, software coding, 3-D printing, it’s limitless,” Ms. Alkalay said. “Everything you do with computers and airplanes or helicopters, you can do with drones.”….
…“It’s about not being afraid to fail,” said Steven Cohen, a teacher at the Applied Technology High School in Bergen County, N.J. “Students say, ‘We didn’t do it right, darn.’ But I say, ‘It’s great that you didn’t do it right, because now you learned from doing it wrong.’”
…(Students from) Cape May County Technical Schools in New Jersey were fortunate that this winter they were invited to help a commercial drone operator, American Aerospace Technologies, test the feasibility of using drones to provide airborne cell service in areas where land-based connectivity doesn’t exist. American Aerospace has an F.A.A. waiver allowing it to fly drones at higher altitudes and outside the pilot’s view.
The high school students were enlisted to “measure the footprint of the coverage on the ground,” said David Yoel, chief executive of American Aerospace. The teens aren’t flying the drones but they are learning how the machines can push technology forward, he said.