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October 23, 2014 : OUL Computer Science Technology Student Builds Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Video Above: Swackhamer takes video of his family farm with the unmanned aerial vehicle he constructed
- Cheri Russo
Communications and Marketing Manager
Lancaster – Ohio University Lancaster Freshman Trevor Swackhamer is flying high.  The Computer Science Technology student, who plans to eventually pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering, is showing his classmates what he’s been up to lately during his spare time.  Swackhamer is building a unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
“I spent hours on the internet looking at all of these sites and looking things up,” said Swackhamer.  “I researched the different things it would take to make one.  I took everything I found and put those together and came up with a few different ideas.”
drone 1Swackhamer is a student in Associate Professor Christine Wolfe’s Computer Science Technology 1270 Website Management class.  One of the early assignments for the class was to code a webpage about the student's interest.  Swackhamer featured the hexacopter UAV that he built on the webpage and after the class asked some questions, he brought it to class.
drone 2“What I found interesting is how he applied engineering processes to the project,” said Wolfe. “He described how he used the knowledge he gained from each trial run to gradually improve the design.  He turned some of the biggest mishaps, such as losing the drone in a field of tall corn, into inspiration for some of the biggest improvements.  He provisioned a way for the drone to send him its GPS location. This cycle of design, test, observe, and re-design is a valuable skill and one that we use in many of the Computer Science Technology classes.”
Swackhamer, who graduated from Logan Elm High School, lives on a farm with his family.  He started building the UAV a year ago in an effort to use technology to help his father on the farm.


“Farmers are using drones to map their crop fields,” said Swackhamer. “One of the flight controllers has field mapping capabilities, and you can take a camera and draw the coordinates around the field. We can get detailed resolution of the field.  If we had a hail storm, we could spot hail damage.  If there’s crop damage, we could look for crop health.  If there are dead spots, it could help us and tell us where we need to fly herbicide or insecticide.”


class pic from droneSwackhamer has taken videos during flights over his father’s farm and uploaded them to his YouTube page. He also brought the UAV into class for students to see.  Swackhamer flew it outside to show his classmates how it works and took a picture of the class from the air.
“In future assignments for class, he'll have an opportunity to embed in his website some of the movies that have been taken and other data recorded and uploaded during flights,” said Wolfe.
“This has been a major learning experience,” said Swackhamer. “I really see this as a great learning experience for my future.”
In the future, Swackhamer would like to incorporate thermal imaging.  However, right now, he’s taking things one step at a time.