Richard McCaskill

I have been an AMA Associate Vice President for District IX, covering the state of Colorado for the past three years.   I have been active in RC aviation for more than 60 years, while engaged in a professional career building team experience in design, engineering, and manufacturing of military and commercial technology and I recently retiring after years of startup and managing high technology companies around the world.  My work as an inventor and a degree in electrical engineering enabled me to found and participate as a team member to create nine companies specializing in fiber optic communications, computers, human input devices, data encryption and security.  I hold nine named US patients for new technology inventions, have published over 40 technical articles, and taught graduate courses at Caltech, UCLA and MIT.

Dream BIG: Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) and Robotics and Our New Future

In a recent article I wrote for Model Aviation magazine, I described an important event I helped organize for small rural schools in my area. We call it Dream BIG and the event is an inspiration of educators in the rural area of Colorado along with the AMA and UAS community in the state.  The purpose of this event is to inspire students for STEM-based learning programs and to dream big about the infinite opportunities they have for careers to improve our world.  Also, we wanted to provide students with a way to learn about all the exciting new technologies and inspire students who normally do not have access to this technology in rural America.

This year’s event brought together the high school students from ten high schools in the southeastern section of Colorado around the town of Eads.  These schools are all small K-12 schools with typical total student population of 100-125 students in all grades.  The event was set up to educate the students on the new existing fields of UAS, robotics, cyber-security, aerospace, and 3D printing.  Some high school students drove more than an hour to attend the event, coming from an area that is mainly agriculture and cattle farming in the most southeastern section of the state of Colorado.  The towns they come from typically have populations less than 1000 residents, real rural communities!

Approximately 250 students from the schools were pre-assigned to 5 groups of approximately 50 students per group, rotating through five technology learning themes in 40-minute sessions throughout the day. We had five major learning areas: 1) Space - Blast off to Mars; 2) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Robotics - Our New Future, 3) E-mission and Cyber-security - The new Threat 4) Aviation - You Can Fly and 5) Advanced Manufacturing (3D printing and design) - Forging Ahead in Colorado.

Each session was made up of two segments: an indoor discussion followed by demonstrations outside. For outside demonstrations we wanted to have students become more involved in these activities so they could see and, some cases, fly a UAS or fly in an airplane.  We wanted all sessions to be unique and include multiple simulations and demonstrations.  All the events were held on the football field and track area.

More than twenty organizations, from the AMA to the United States ARMY, the Colorado School of Mines, United Airlines and Wings Over the Rockies Museum and others too numerous to mention join our team to help make the event a success.  If you would like more details about how we recruited them and organized their participated please feel free to contact me at rickm1947@aol.com.

Glenn Smith, Eads District Superintendent, passed on the following comment:  "I had a superintendent advisory committee meeting yesterday and several of the superintendents reported that their kids were so excited and inspired by the event; many of the high school students reported it was the best field trip and school day of their life.  All were very grateful and appreciative of the experience. It was Grand slam home run!"  Thanks to all!"

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