PARAMUS, N.J. – The STEM Block House at Bergen Community College was electric with energy Wednesday as a team of students talked over their new SCAREDRONE project.
This type of drone is mounted and stored in its own little tower on an agricultural field.
“The drone sits on a landing platform atop a recharging pad until its motion-detecting software activates,” said Abreham Minday of Lyndhurst. “Once it senses any creatures or critters, its speaker emits the sounds of predatory birds.”
Then the aircraft takes off to scare plant-eating birds and other animals away from the fields, adds Robert Gomez of Woodland Park, an aviation administration student.
“Approximately 30 percent of crops are lost every year because of predators,” said Peter Lehrer of Leonia. “We’re hoping this will solve that problem.”
These students, all members of the college STEM Club, learn how to operate and build drones and research ways to use them. They work under the tutelage of Dr. Joe Sivo, a physics professor, and Luis De Abreu, the college’s STEM tutorial supervisor.
Last fall, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Bergen clearance to operate unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, making it one of three community colleges in the country that can.
The approval excites both the faculty and the clubmembers who see roles – and research projects – for drones in almost all fields.
“Drones are the next generation for everything,” De Abreu said. “We put such a big emphasis on these projects because of the potential collaboration with industry partners.”
Minday, for instance, is working on developing a drone to do mapping, which can be helpful for a variety of industries. Contractors working on big projects can put a drone to good use, too, as can surveyors.
The students research drones likely can get internships and jobs by collaborating with companies, De Abreu said.
Once the college finishes the paperwork on an insurance policy, it will start holding five-day drone operation classes for news crews, first responders, and others, said Dr. Joe Sivo, physics professor.
There’s no such thing as an FAA certification in drone operation, he added, but participants will get a certification from the college.