First ever college drone championship held in US

Students from Georgia Tech university were the victors at the inaugural US Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship, held last weekend at Purdue University in Indiana.

The event saw 48 pilots from 27 universities across the US take part, with all of them using homemade drones. Georgia Tech took home $15,000 in equipment and prizes for first place, with the University of California, Berkeley, coming second, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona, placing third. Hosts Purdue came fourth overall.

“It was a fantastic event,” said Tyler Landers, president of the Purdue Drone Club. “It was a bit windy, but I think everyone had a good time. It was great for Purdue to host the first ever event. Congratulations to Georgia Tech, they had a great day today.”

The event, which was free to the public, featured drones travelling at up to 90mph, with pilots guiding them through checkpoints and around flags. The Georgia Tech team was led by aerospace engineering student Nick Willard, who has also featured in the televised Drone Racing League (DRL). Willard’s crossover success is likely to serve as a boon for the burgeoning university sport.

“Collegiate drone racing is an up-and-coming sport,” said Landers. “In January, Purdue hosted the first-ever intercollegiate drone race with Ohio State University and the University of Illinois. We are hoping the national championship gives the sport an even bigger boost.”