I didn’t know what to expect going into this course, especially the in-person workshop. My honest wish was for it not to be boring. Then, by unfortunate happenstance, the scheduled workshop day was cancelled and I had to attend one of the makeup sessions on a Tuesday night.

“Oh, great,” was my first thought.

How much could we really accomplish from 6 to 9 on a Tuesday, INDOORS??

The answer is: “A lot.”

Although flying a drone indoors isn’t exactly a task for beginners, Sandy and myself got to watch him maneuver the little quadcopter like a pro in Old Main’s biggest meeting room. My intial reaction, once seeing the drone in action, was how chilly it made the room. That thing puts out a LOT of air and is quite loud. But there was also something very “cute” about it (maybe that’s just my propensity to anthropomorphize inanimate objects), which further fueled by desire to own and fly one. Maybe some day. I feel like it might be a good idea to get on the bandwagon now before everybody who buys one has to prove they have a pilot’s license, so I’ll put an inexpensive one on my tentative Christmas list. Entertainment the whole family can enjoy!

Dale is a pro at this Kevin the drone me n' Kevin

So, after having my mind blown by this tiny indoor helicopter, I was ready for some sensor stuff. And to be honest (again), I was worried that this might be the more “boring” part of the workshop.

I was really really wrong.

As it turns out, I LOVE messing with tiny breadboards and photons. The whole process tapped into the engineer buried somewhere in my brain, and we even got to mess around with coding, another casual interest of mine. After fiddling around with the Particle app, which was very user friendly and fun, we switched over to browser-controlled programs on the wired LED. This is where things got really cool.

Just by changing a little code, we were able to adjust how fast or slow the tiny LED flashed on the breadboard. But how did the tiny chip receive information from the computer without being connected to the same wifi or a hardware cable?? Magic. Ok, not really. It had something to do with both the devices being connected by an actual Particle account, but still. To me it was magic. The fact that we could program this little chip and its sensor to not only take ambient temperature, but send that data every few seconds to a designated spreadsheet…my brain was spinning with all the experiments possible with such technology. I’m most definitely considering putting one of those kits on my Christmas list as well.

cute little kit amazing company

All in all, what a fabulous experience. Although my major may not utilize drones and sensors specifically, just having knowledge of these rising technologies is a valuable asset in today’s job field. Not only that, but someday I actually may be asked to use one or the other in the near future as they become more popular in communication careers. I would never say no to learning something new, regardless.

I’m very thankful to have had this opportunity. The format being short-form was a Godsend in an already overloaded senior year. Here’s to the future! We’re already in it.

Tiny Helicopters and Tinier Sensors

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