Somerset High School STEM teacher pushing for drone racing in UIL competitions

Teacher submitted proposal to UIL to add drone racing starting next year.

SOMERSET, Texas – A Somerset High School STEM instructor is teaching students about drones and pushing to add drone racing to UIL competitions.

Jessica Duengan got the idea after her husband purchased mini drones for her students last year.

“Thousands of schools have shown that they have either have drones, are interested in drones, have a club of it, are teaching it in their curriculum,” said Jessica Duengan, Somerset High School Stem Teacher.

Dunegan said her students showed interest right away.

“They started making an entire obstacle course. They made a point system. It filled the entire hallway,” she said.

Dunegan’s passion for drones also grew. She started a drone club at the high school this school year.

In October, she submitted a proposal to the University Interscholastic League, or UIL, to add drone racing as an academic competition.

If the UIL board approves this proposal, students could compete in drone racing next year.

“It’s in the study and review stage, so we’re looking at the logistics. So, OK, ‘When would we do a drone competition? What would be the vendors for the competition? Where would we do the events?’” Dunegan said.

Dunegan said drone racing would involve students navigating through obstacle courses. She said students who work on drones would be learning about coding, mechanical engineering, physics, critical thinking and problem-solving.

The UIL committee will decide in June 2023.

Dunegan said this is already having a positive impact on students.

“I have one student who -- she had never done anything like this before, and now she’s just, like, ‘I could go into the STEM field, you know? I could go to college.’ So just seeing it go from, ‘Oh, I can’t, I don’t know about all this,’ to ‘Yeah, I can do that’ is just -- it’s amazing to see that,” Dunegan said.

About the Author

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

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