Trotwood Madison High School Won The Team Excellence Award At The Aerial Drone Regional Championships In Flint, MI

Submitted by: LTC (R) Odell A. Graves
Photos by: LTC (R) Odell A. Graves

Pictured above Left to Right is Karlei Smith (Coder), Jerome Lee (Co-Pilot), Mackenzie Reese (Pilot), Jasmine Kinnel (Navigator and journalist).

Trotwood-Madison Army JROTC and Robotics Club (Team 4440A: RamNation Robotics) departed after school on Friday, May 12, 2023, with one mission on their mind – to WIN, and during the team’s inaugural year, they did just that, WON. The competition was a grueling 2 day competition on Saturday and Sunday (yes, Mothers’ Day), where the team competed in 10 pilot flown qualifying matches and more than 40 autonomous (no pilot – coded flights) against 50 other teams from 11 states. During the event, they had to fly through rings, avoid cables and other drones, move balls from a chute into goals, and complete a blind landing where the pilot relied on 1 team member to communicate with hand and arm signals because the pilot could not see the landing pad. In the autonomous event, the coder had to develop a code that saw the drone fly autonomously through arches, rings, move balls, and land, all in 1 minute or less. Finally, the team conducted an interview and provided a detailed journal of their activities this season.

The Excellence Award recognizes overall excellence in both the Judged Award and the Performance Award categories. The Excellence Award incorporates all the criteria of the Flight Operations Award, plus the added component of a team’s on-field performance at the event.

Key criteria of the Excellence Award are:

  • Exhibit a high-quality team interview
  • Be ranked in the top 10 or top 30% of teams (whichever is greater) at the conclusion of qualifying matches
  • Be ranked in the top 5 or top 20% of teams (whichever is greater) at the conclusion of Autonomous Flight Matches
  • Be a candidate in consideration for other Judged Awards
  • Demonstrate a student-centered ethos
  • Exhibit positive team conduct, good sportsmanship, and professionalism
  • Be at or near the top of all Competition Logbook Rubric rankings

The team thanks the Trotwood-Madison City School District’s School Board and Administrators, the faculty and staff of Trotwood-Madison High School, 7th Brigade, USACC, their coach, Lieutenant Colonel (Dr.) Odell A. Graves, and the men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. for their tremendous support.

Mackenzie Reese and Jerome Lee before a match
Jasmine Kinnel signals to the pilot to land during the blind land
Karlei Smith observes her drone flying autonomously