Long-awaited hangar space now houses Drone Engineering Club
The Governors State University (GovState) Drone Engineering Club will now be able to really takeoff.
That’s because the club finally secured long-awaited and needed hangar space at BULT Field Airport in Monee, Illinois. The F5 Hangar gives the club a base of operations to host meetings, store and fly drones, conduct research and house technology equipment.
In addition, the students in the club, and their advisor, Sam Shahid, senior lecturer in the Division of Science, Mathematics and Technology, can access the airport's lecture and conference rooms for study sessions and other meetings.
“One of the biggest advantages is that this will help our members work toward their FAA Part 107 commercial licence,” said Nathan Rodriguez, president of the club, and a junior computer science major.
Anyone wanting to operate a drone for commercial opportunities like aerial photography or other tasks must have the Part 107 license, also called Remote Pilot Certification.
The club owns and operates three types of drones, ranging up to a top-of-the line Matrice 300 for commercial use with camera and payload attachments. “We flew it as high as we were allowed and we could see Chicago from Monee,” said Rodriguez. “That drone is equipped with laser technology that can be used for detailed mapping within a centimeter of accuracy,” he added.
Future opportunities for the club include cutting-edge research and partnerships with organizations like Amazon and other potential commercial users. “Partnerships are our goal,” said Rodriguez, “but the biggest roadblock has been not having hangar space. It was the final puzzle piece.”
Once members earn their Part 107 licenses, the club could offer drone training for first responders and others who want to understand the application of drones. Hosting a summer camp for young people is another option. Shahid envisions the hangar as a step toward a GovState aviation school where students are trained to work on cargo planes and earn a Federal Aviation Administration Private Pilot License.
“This gives the university an opportunity to play a role in becoming a hub for drone development in the state with a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems program (UAS) through the School of Extended Learning,” said Shahid. “Drone technology has a wide range of applications, and this hangar gives us a chance to expand on the great work we’ve already been doing."
The club’s members are interested in both evolving technologies as well as learning more about general aviation and unmanned aircraft. “It’s a rising technology and it’s always good to be ahead of the game,” added Rodriguez.