Hosted by OSU's College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology (CEAT), the UAS camp focuses on the basics of flight and flight control systems.

STILLWATER – While high school is out for summer break, five area students kept their advanced thinking caps on with a trip to an Unmanned Aerial Systems camp provided by Oklahoma State University.

Trishia Masterson, an instructor for the high school pre-engineering course at the Afton Northeast Technology Center, traveled with a select group of students to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) themed camp held the last week of June in Stillwater.

Attending were Jessica Jenings of Quapaw, Inez Ramirez of Miami, Sydney Tynon of Wyandotte, Andrew Wallace of Grove, and Heidi Willy of Vinita, who are incoming or returning students in the Afton NTC pre-engineering program for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Hosted by OSU's College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology (CEAT), the UAS camp focuses on the basics of flight and flight control systems with OSU professors and graduate students serving as instructors.

The week-long camp provides a hands-on opportunity to students to build a plane, learn about flight control systems, and return in April to race their planes at OSU's SpeedFest. Speedfest is a high-speed aircraft design competition with several flight classes that allow for teams to enter at different levels of difficulty and interest. The annual event's mission is "To foster enthusiasm for aviation, and unmanned aircraft design."

For the UAS camp, students were provided a kit of balsa wood and plane blueprints to start building a remote control plane with the guidance of instructors. Masterson said camp days started in the design lab where teamwork was encouraged as students learned how to read blueprints, and how different components of a plane work and affect flight.

"I learned that there is a big difference between designing an aircraft and building one. One small chance can affect the entire design," said Sydney Tynon. "The single most important thing I learned is that it takes teamwork to take an idea in your head and turn it into something real."

Over the course of the camp work continued work on the plane, students built and flew gliders, learned to fly RC planes on a computer simulator, and got to spend 15 minutes with a flight instructor in OSU's flight simulator.

Students also toured OSU and CEAT and had the opportunity to learn about various engineering majors.

Camp concluded with a day at the flight field to fly the planes and gliders.

"This was probably one of the best camps I have ever attended," said Masterson. "The timing was perfect because we are starting Aerospace Engineering as our optional course this year, so it gave me a chance to gain some more hands on experience myself and give the kids a preview of what is coming up this year."

As an added benefit, Masterson's students were able to attend with camp costs and meals covered. As a partner of the program, Oklahoma CareerTech was able to assist with the receipt of a Carl Perkins Supplemental Non-Traditional grant for Masterson's group, which covered the entire cost of the camp. The grant is aimed at supporting Oklahoma students to choose careers based on their interests, skills, and abilities, rather than gender stereotypes.

OSU provided all meals, offering breakfast and lunch at the campus and taking campers to local eateries for dinners.

"Camps like this are an excellent opportunity for students to focus in depth on a topic and develop something from a concept to reality," said Masterson.

NTC's pre-engineering program is a two-year academy emphasizing academics and engineering principles to provide students with a strong foundation to excel in a post-secondary engineering pathway, according to the NTC course description.

It requires 960 hours of coursework that includes Civil Engineering and Architecture, Aerospace Engineering, Engineering Design and Development, as well as AP Calculus and Physics. The curriculum utilized is from Project Lead The Way (PLTW), which provides lesson plans in the engineering pathway that engage students in compelling, real-world challenges that help them become better collaborators and thinkers.

Classes for the Ottawa County pre-engineering program are held onsite at NTC's Afton campus where Masterson and Jeremy Radebaugh serve as instructors.

Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor for the Miami News-Record. Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.