Northwest Florida Roundup
Sky Dreamer drone project gives students opportunity to discover, develop new technologies
Fort Walton Beach-based Hsu Educational Foundation has launched a student-oriented project called Sky Dreamer.
The design-develop-fly program is the first of several planned unmanned aircraft systems challenge projects underway at high schools and colleges in Northwest Florida.
Under a broad program heading called FieldWerx, students will link with mentors and specialists at Hurlburt Field’s Air Force Research Lab and the 1st Special Operations Wing. The goal of the Sky Dreamer project is to build an electric vertical takeoff and landing drone that will fly some eight miles.
Once in the sky, small drones will be released that can swarm and accomplish programmed tasks such as conducting a search-and-rescue mission.
“There is no greater quest than to inspire curious minds to innovate beyond the bounds of our current experience,” says Amanda Negron, CEO of the Hsu Educational Foundation. “We are working to encourage prototype development, certification skills training in technical fields and the discovery of new applications for existing technologies. What we are providing is the opportunity to foster critical thinking, explore new skills and re-examine how we approach difficult problems collaboratively,” she says.
- Gulf County-based UAV chose California-based Winfield Construction to build a 100-foot-high and 300-foot-long drone hangar at the Costin Airport in Port St. Joe. Gulf County commissioners have authorized $1 million for infrastructure improvements that will support the hangar operations facility. UAV CEO Mike Lawson says the hangar will take about nine months to complete.
- Construction has begun in Taylor County on a $42-million apartment village with 344 family-oriented residential units. The development, one of the largest in Taylor County in recent years, is a few miles northwest of the town center of Perry.
- Navy Federal Credit Union’s 98-acre recreation area, adjacent to its 310-acre campus in the Beulah community, is under construction. Amenities will include walking trails, a pavilion with seating and numerous recreation fields.
- FSU President Richard McCullough says the university will spend some $1 billion on construction projects at its Tallahassee campus over the next three years. Some of the projects include a new business school, stadium renovations and a new academic medical center.
- The city of Pensacola has offered Baptist Health Care $500,000 for a large plot of land on its 51-acre Moreno Street campus under the condition that 500 affordable housing units be included in any plans for the redevelopment of the Moreno Street campus. BHC is building a $615-million hospital about five miles north of its current campus. The new hospital is expected to be completed by fall 2023. Baptist executives are studying several other proposals for repurposing the old 51-acre campus and its buildings.
- Tallahassee Community College is partnering with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to launch a pilot program focused on workforce education for youth in DJJ facilities. Project Anchor will provide career-readiness skills, industry-recognized training and certifications in targeted sectors and include career pathways for youth to continue their education at a Florida College or district post-secondary institution.
- Allen Media Group, a cluster of media companies headquartered in Los Angeles that includes the Weather Channel, has bought Tallahassee-based Black News Channel. The sale comes more than three months after the channel suddenly shut down and laid off 233 workers. The sale of substantially all of BNC's assets for $11 million was approved recently by the bankruptcy court.
- Engineering and architecture firm Barge Design Solutions has launched Thrivence, a new management and consulting company. Thrivence will counsel clients in the Panama City area on issues related to leadership development, strategy and performance, and technology solutions. Barge Design Solutions has worked on numerous community projects, including the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and the Bay County Water Treatment Plan Operations Renovation.
- Aldi recently opened a grocery store in Bay County. The Panama City area store joins two in Pensacola and one in the Navarre community in Santa Rosa County. The company currently has more than 180 stores throughout Florida.