Aerospace Engineering class at DCIT sees success in first year
The Darlington County Institute of Technology’s (DCIT) new Aerospace Engineering course guided two students to earn Remote Pilot Certification and to the school’s first podium finish in a statewide drone competition. “I am so proud of these students and of Mrs. Tori Taylor, who just became certified to teach the drone pilot course earlier this year,” said Robbie Smith, DCIT’s director. “For them to do so well in the first year of our drone pilot program is remarkable. I expect many more students to earn their pilot’s license and to do well in SkillsUSA competitions in the years to come.” Taylor serves as DCIT’s Project Lead the Way Engineering instructor and teaches the Aerospace Engineering course. Two of her students, Nic Evans and Gadge Gainey, successfully passed the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airman Knowledge Test this spring and earned their official certification to fly unmanned aerial aircraft (otherwise known as drones) for profit. The course proved in its first year to be yet another tool utilized by DCIT to prepare students for a career after high school. “I’m extremely proud of these guys for their accomplishments,” Taylor said. “It was a true learning experience for all of us. They set the bar high for upcoming students. I’m very excited to be a part of DCIT and it’s Engineering program. I can’t wait to see how it progresses moving forward.” Evans and Gage Hickman, another of Taylor’s students, also guided DCIT to a second-place finish in the school’s first ever attempt to compete in a statewide drone competition hosted by SkillsUSA. DCIT has long sent students to participate in SkillsUSA competitions, such as electrical wiring, machine tool demonstrations and CNC milling, but this was the first drone competition held. Thirteen teams from seven different schools, mostly from Horry County, participated in the competition. Teams were scored in four categories: Flight, Regulations, Mapping and Hardware/Software Operation. Evans and Gainey took home second place, scoring 642 of a maximum 1,000 points. The winning team came from the Academy for Technology and Academics, which has a dedicated class for drone piloting unlike DCIT. Hickman said the competition taught both of the students a lot and prepared them for their Airman Knowledge Test. “It was definitely a lot of fun,” he said. “It could get stressful at times, and it got interesting and intense. I was wiping sweat off.” Evans said the reason he enrolled at DCIT was specifically for the Aerospace Engineering class. “I am only here to take this course,” he said. “These classes at DCIT are the best I’ve had in high school.” Evans also said he is highly interested in pursuing some sort of future with flying drones. He and Hickman both graduated from Hartsville High School in June. Gainey will be a senior at Hartsville High School next year.