Stepping out of the classroom and into the field, students from across Sydney have experienced the thrills and spills of remotely piloted aircrafts following the University of NSW’s Drone Racing Day – a joint project between UNSW’s School of Aviation and Surf Life Saving NSW.

The Drone Racing Day on 21 November was part of a larger project facilitating the implementation of a new degree through the respected Sydney-based university – that of a Bachelor of Aviation, majoring in Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.

The degree is a first-of-its-kind in NSW, combining theoretical and practice-based learnings- the latter facilitated by SLSNSW’s Australian Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle Service (AUAVS). It will equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to support demand in the ever-evolving field of aviation, laying the platform to produce a new line of commercial pilots, drone operators, and aviation researchers.

Gathering at Swans HQ in Moore Park as part of an activation to announce the degree, a group of Sydney’s best up-and-coming drone pilots were put to the test in a series of race formats.

Students took control of their own DJI Avata drone in timed heats of no more than four, with the quickest racers around the pre-designed track advancing throughout the day.

“This was a great opportunity for us to come here and experience flying the drones,” Knox Grammar student, Amar Qadri said.

“It’s been a lot of fun and interesting to learn something new because we can’t do this sort of thing in school.”

Teacher Victoria King from Ravenswood School for Girls said the students loved getting out of the classroom for their learning.

“The main value is the hands-on experience, applying what they learn in class to the real world, and learning from people from within the field,” she said.

Dr Vanessa Huron from the University of NSW said the day acted as a fantastic tool to launch their new degree into the market.

“We are about a holistic teaching experience, with practical experience underpinned by academia,” she said.

“This has been a great opportunity for students to connect with people who have walked the path they’re currently on and it’s fascinating to see some of the students who have flown before and others flying for the first time, but it’s all sparked from the same idea of a passion or interest that can also be a career.”

Stuart Jackson from the AUAVS said there was a lot of research and time put into running the event.

“It’s almost second nature to some of these kids, seeing what they’re capable of,” he said.

“The day is very different to what we usually do, it’s quite an immersive experience today, and a way to potentially attract people to the potential of remotely piloted aircraft from a different angle.”

Tuesday 21 November 2023