Paul Duke STEM High School receives grant for drone program

Front row, left to right, Stephen Cochran, UAV Program Director, students, Noah Budnitz, Josh Taylor, Smith Patel, Therman the Infinite Energy mascot, students William Tomsik, Seysla Chann-Hong, and Lee Conger, School Technology Coordinator. Back row, left to right, school principal Dr. Jonathan Wetherington and Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason. (Special Photo)

The Paul Duke STEM High School recently received a $2,000 grant to further its drone program, thanks to a collaboration between the school, the city of Peachtree Corners and Prototype Prime.

Peachtree Corners has been long associated with Technology Park Atlanta, a technology hub developed by Paul Duke, and Prototype Prime, a nonprofit business startup incubator.

Through the school’s partnership with the two entities, it was awarded a 2019 Infinite Energy STEAM Education Grant, which will be used to launch an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Program (UAV). The program is designed to engage students in designing, building and operating drones for professional applications as well as racing.

“The UAV Program is a natural extension of our STEM curriculum,” said Jonathan Wetherington, Paul Duke STEM High School’s principal. “Students apply their knowledge from classes in math, physics, engineering and the arts to specific real-world drone applications. Thanks to the support of Peachtree Corners and Prototype Prime, our students have meaningful projects waiting for them.”

According to Peachtree Corners officials, the grant was ultimately awarded based on what the students will be doing with the drones.

Students will work with Peachtree Corners’ Public Works Department to assist with storm water inspections by using drones to photograph areas that are not easily accessible by foot.

“The students at Paul Duke STEM High School have an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason. “They are our future technology leaders. The city of Peachtree Corners is thrilled to support their training and development, and we look forward to partnering on many exciting projects.”

The Paul Duke STEM High School, which is the first STEM high school in Gwinnett County, opened its doors in August 2018. Located in Norcross, its curriculum focuses on applied engineering concepts, artificial intelligence and technology in graphic design, television and film, animation and game design.

The recent grant will allow the school to begin purchasing the specialty equipment for shooting aerial photography and videography for city planning and marketing projects and produce a live drone show, said Stephen Cochran, the school’s program sponsor and engineering and computer science teacher.

Students will also have access to Prototype Prime’s intelligent mobility experts, 3D laboratory, and Sprint’s 5G capable Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners.

Crime Reporter

Isabel is a crime and health reporter for the Gwinnett Daily Post. She graduated from Emory University in 2016 with a B.A. in international studies. She is originally from the Boston area.