Mobile trailer taking drone technology to area schools

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Dr. Matt Underwood, senior vice president of Ranger College, speaks as representatives of the college, the Brownwood school district and the Bruno Auto Group stand near Ranger College's electronics, robotics and drone technology trailer.
Brownwood High School teacher Edward Yantis (center) explains what's inside the electronics, robotics and drone technology trailer as visitors including Brownwood superintendent Dr. Joe Young (left) and Bruner Auto Group general manager Cory Howard listen.

The partnership between Ranger College, business and area high schools was on display Thursday afternoon outside Brownwood High School, where visitors were introduced to Ranger College's mobile electronics, robotics and drone technology trailer.

Representatives of Ranger College, the Brownwood school district and the Bruner Auto Group were present along with drone technology students to display the trailer, which contains drones and robotics equipment and will be parked at area schools for a few days at a time.

The Bruner Auto Group donated a Ram 3500 pickup to haul the trailer.

The trailer is the product of workforce-related grants, Ranger College Senior Vice President Dr. Matt Underwood said.

"We're able to serve our rural schools and give them some curriculum you couldn't necessarily put in a Brownwood ISD or an Early ISD," Underwood said. "Basically what we try to do is hook kids into drone technology, from surveying to counting deer.. Everybody has their own story on what we need with drones today. I think what hooked me is when they talked about how you can check your tanks with your cattle and not have to drive around all day. These are issues that can speak to nearly everybody."

Underwood said "big thanks" are due to Bruner Auto Group president Greg Bruner for donating the pickup to pull the trailer. "This enables this rural initiative," Underwood said. "It gives it the wheels."

The trailer has "a lot of technology and a lot of different levels of drones, and I think it's going to be a plus," Underwood said. "We can take it to the Zephyrs of the world, the Richland Springs of the world. It also piques interest for career expectations. Even if they don't have it in their small schools, they may want to pursue something like that later in life."

Bruner said the dealership "couldn't be prouder to be part of this." He said it was phenomenal to see the drone technology students gathered at the trailer.

"This is why we're doing this, to put back into the community, to get you guys the training because you are our future," Bruner said. "There's other technology at Ranger we're working on that this truck can be used for as well."

Brownwood ISD president Dr. Joe Young said students have more choices thanks to Ranger College and the Bruner Auto Group. "We call ourselves the district of choice and it's another (opportunity) that three years ago we didn't have," Young said.

"Two years ago we barely had it. But now we have a full fledged program that all of these students chose to be a part of."

Brownwood High School science and robotics teacher Edward Yantis said said the Brownwood school district, Brownwood Education Foundation and Brownwood Municipal Development District partnered with Ranger College.

"We're able to take high school students and get them FAA-licensed as a commercial drone operator, where they can go out and actually use this equipment and make a living right out of high school," Yantis said.

"Thanks to the education foundation, we've been able to buy some software and some equipment so we can teach the students how to do actual industry-level 3D survey and mapping. It's a really high-need, high-paying area and we're happy to be able to provide that for out students. It wouldn't have been possible without the partnership between all of the people."