Georgia Tech Wins First-Ever Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship

Three engineering students take home top honors for their flying skills

Drone Racing
Seth Ableidinger, Davis Engleman, and Nick Willard bring home the first place trophy at the first-ever Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship held at Purdue University.

Three engineering students took home the top trophy at the Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship held at Purdue University on April 15th. It is the first year a national championship has been organized for pilots of unmanned aircraft to compete against each other at the college level.

Twenty-seven universities fielded teams of pilots who navigated obstacle courses flying custom-designed drones. The course was designed for testing both a pilot’s speed and precision.

Georgia Tech was led by aerospace engineering major Nick Willard, who flew in the final race to seal the victory. Willard competes in many non-collegiate Drone Racing League events, and has won racing events televised on ESPN. He is affectionately known by drone racing enthusiasts as “Wild Willy.”

Willard was joined by Seth Ableidinger and Davis Engelman, two mechanical engineering majors, who held strong in preliminary races to put Georgia Tech into a solid lead.

Their times and rankings, combined with Willard’s, put Georgia Tech into first place among the field.

The University of California, Berkeley finished second, with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in third, and host Purdue University coming in fourth.

The Georgia Tech team brought home a total of $15,000 in equipment and prizes.