UNCW grad student designs drone software - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

UNCW grad student designs drone software

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A UNCW graduate student is seeing the college campus in a whole new way thanks to his master's thesis project. A UNCW graduate student is seeing the college campus in a whole new way thanks to his master's thesis project.
Gillikin's drone in action. Gillikin's drone in action.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – A UNCW graduate student is seeing the college campus in a whole new way, thanks to his master's thesis project.

Jason Gillikin is a graduate student seeking his masters in Computer Science Information Systems.

"This capstone project can be anything you want- some people design databases and websites," explained Gillikin.

Gillikin designed a drone for his project.

"It has GPS, compass and telemetry on it, so I can communicate through it wirelessly," explained the student.

That wireless communication is what has driven Gillikin's ultimate plan.

"When most people think about drones, all they think about is Iraq and Afghanistan or the police or spying on people," Gillikin stated. "I wanted to come up with a way that a drone would actually help somebody."

Gillikin hopes his drone will play a part in ocean rescues. He designed special software to help the device pick out people in the water.

"Just click on the person," explained Gillikin. "The computer will get the coordinates of that person and send the drone out, drop a life jacket and come back."

Local ocean rescue crews said it's not a bad idea.

"Anytime you can combine technology and rescue, if it speeds the process of getting support to the victim, I'm all for it," said Simon Sanders, the ocean rescue supervisor with the Carolina Beach Fire Department.

Tom Janicki, a UNCW professor of Information Sciences, said he is proud of students like Gillikin.

"They're really able to take the technology they're using or learning in the classroom and actually apply it to the real world," said Janicki. "I think that's what our industry professionals like too- seeing some of the real projects that we're doing."

Gillikin has high hopes for the future of the project.

"My hope is that I can get the application working 100% and possibly get it out there in a beta test and see where it goes from there," said Gillikin.

Gillikin will present his project Tuesday at WITX, Wilmington's Technology eXchange Conference.

Drones are not currently banned in North Carolina according to state law. A bill regulating the use of drones is set to be discussed by state lawmakers in the upcoming short session.

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