Engineering student takes flight
The sky's not even the limit for Neil Edmonston, a University of West Florida senior majoring in Electrical Engineering. Aspiring to work in the unmanned aerial systems field developing airframes and electronics, Edmonston is about to take flight on his future career path. For the past two years, he has served as the captain for UWF's Unmanned Aerial Systems Team, competing in student competitions.
The sky’s not even the limit for Neil Edmonston, a University of West Florida senior majoring in Electrical Engineering. Aspiring to work in the unmanned aerial systems field developing airframes and electronics, Edmonston is about to take flight on his future career path. For the past two years, he has served as the captain for UWF’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Team, competing in student competitions.
“Our team designs and builds unmanned aircraft systems for international competitions,” said Edmonston. “By participating on the team, I’ve been able to network with various companies including Northrop Grumman, Boeing and also various local companies.”
Last month, Edmonston led the team at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) competition, the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems community. UWF placed second in the flight competition out of 25 colleges and universities and fourth overall. They were awarded $8,000 in prize money, which they will reinvest back into the plane.
“Without my team mates, this competition would have been impossible,” said Edmonston. “This is why I very reluctantly consider myself the captain. Everyone on the team is a leader and is equally important to the success of team.”
The AUVSI competition is usually based around military operations. The primary objectives of the competition were for each team to build an unmanned aircraft to fly autonomously, navigate a specified course and use onboard sensors to locate and assess a series of man-made objects on the ground prior to returning to the launch point for landing.
“I’m very proud of the team’s accomplishments,” said David Algeo, UWF robotics laboratory manager. “Neil has done an excellent job as the team captain and I am confident that he will be an asset to any team he joins, including the company he will eventually work for in the future.”
Students involved in the Unmanned Aerial Systems Team have access to advanced equipment through the UWF engineering department and have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and network with potential businesses looking to hire tomorrow’s engineers. Being a part of the UWF team has provided Edmonston with a unique perspective into what it takes to succeed.
“My team has helped me realize that the people who are most likely to succeed in this field will be the ones with the most diverse background in electronics and mechanics,” said Edmonston. “I’ve come to the conclusion that having a genuine interest, passion and understanding for what you do are the keys to success.”
For more information, contact Algeo at (850) 857-6411 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the UWF Electrical and Computer Engineering program, visit uwf.edu/ece.
Written by Lauren Smith, University Marketing Communications