Texas AFJROTC Unit wins 1st-ever Aerial Drone Competition Championship Texas – Perseverance

  • Published
  • By Christian P. Hodge, Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC Public Affairs

A whopping 57 junior drone competition teams descended upon Sugar Land, Texas, and its I. H. Kempner High School on April 15–16 for the inaugural Aerial Drone Competition Championship Texas – Perseverance.

Hosted by the high school’s Air Force Junior ROTC Unit TX-924, this inaugural event comprised of JROTC, high school and middle school students from nine states: Texas, Hawaii, Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi, West Virginia, California, Arizona, and Louisiana. This included eight AFJROTC teams and 10 Army and Navy JROTC Teams.

Major Tonia Howze, TX-924 Air Force Junior ROTC, Senior Aerospace Science Instructor, served as the Aerial Drone Competition Championship Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation Event Partner for the national drone championship.

“We have been on a journey of learning together this year, and it paid off! This is our first year competing an Aerial Drone Competition (ADC) season.  All our teams had no drone experience prior to this competition season, but our cadets had a desire to learn about programming and navigating the drones,” said Howze. “Their dedication, teamwork, and commitment to learning about the drones and ADC competition was exciting for me, and our cadets, and it really motivated them to do better.” 

The national tournament championship was awarded her cadets at TX-924 AFJROTC, Team 92401B, Aerium, and their alliance team, Team 35084A, MHP Drone Racers 1, Madison Highland Prep, Phoenix, AZ.  

“We did not expect to win, I just kept telling our teams to remember what we practiced and put it to work,” she said. “All four of our teams advanced to the quarterfinals, and I am so proud of them. We are excited about next season and improving upon we have learned thus far.”

TX-924 also garnered the Aerial Drone Competition Championship Judges Award. This award is presented to a team whose team interview demonstrates ‘effective communication skills, teamwork, professionalism, and a student-centered ethos. The team must display special attributes, exemplary effort and perseverance at the event.’

Headquarters AFJROTC’s Leadership Development Program Manager R. Wayne Barron presented the top Air Force JROTC Drone Team Overall Award to MS-081 AFJROTC, Team 10308C, Autonomous Ops Squadron, from South Panola High School, Batesville, MS. This award was presented to the top AFJROTC team with the best JROTC drone competition season.

“This event would not have been successful without the support of the Mrs. Louann Cormier, Aerial Drone Competition, REC Foundation, HQ AFJROTC, I.H. Kempner administration staff, volunteers, and the TX-924 AFJROTC corps of cadets for their hard work and support towards this national competition,” said Barron.

Last, but not least, the 2023 Aerial Drone Competition Championship Inspire Award was awarded to TX-924 AFJROTC, Team 92401A, The Minions.  This award is presented to the team that exhibits passion and a positive attitude at the event and displays integrity, and goodwill towards other teams, coaches, and spectators.

The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation sparks interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on, sustainable, and affordable curriculum-based robotics programs, according to their website. The Robotics Foundation’s global mission is to provide every educator with competition, education, and workforce readiness programs to increase student engagement in science, technology, engineering, math, and computer science.