This story appears in the October 2017 issue of Jerk Magazine and was written by Alex Archambault.
Eric Cola ’18 received a small, inexpensive drone for Christmas during his sophomore year at Syracuse University. It was nothing he meant to get into, the film major admits, but as he taught himself to fly it around, he became enamored with the power as he began to see the world from above.
Cola was stoked to bring his newfound love of droning back to school, but minutes after he let loose on the quad he was met by DPS and a fellow, older student. The former offered him a stern warning about droning around campus but the latter extended a more welcoming message. A message inviting him to a meeting for Skyworks, an on-campus club made up of engineering students interested in building and racing drones and photography/film students captivated by drone imagery.
Cola was hooked after attending the first meeting. It was here that he met Chase Guttman ’18 who has been working with drones since prior to attending Syracuse.
Guttman is seen as somewhat of a connoisseur when it comes to drone photography. He often travels to give lectures and is currently writing a book regarding the subject. He even says he chose Syracuse’s Newhouse School because of how they were applying drones to journalism and he really wanted to explore this realm.
While the basics of drones may seem obvious—plug your phone into the drone controller and it will tell you how high the drone is, how much battery is left, and allow you to see what the drone sees—Guttman explains there is nothing quite like actually operating a drone and experiencing it for yourself.
Comparing it to playing a favorite video game, his face lights up as he describes using the controller to see the world as though you have never seen it before. He throws around words such as “powerful,” “exhilarating” and “incredible” over and over.
“Not only are drones really awesome for photography, these are something that are really changing the world right now,” Guttman says. “They are something that are being used to possibly replace bees by pollinating plants, they’re being used to help endangered wildlife… honestly they’re being used in such fascinating ways and I feel like it’s just the beginning of that.”
Cola, who now owns two drones, describes his dream job as being a drone videographer on film sets, fusing his major with his hobby. Guttman, who owns four, says he would like to “ride the wave of drones as long as it lasts” in his journalistic storytelling. Both are adamant that drone use is something that should be introduced to a wider audience on campus, and Skyworks is actually looking to find a way to do just that. It is their hope more students will soon have access to learn to both use a drone and capture their own photos and videos.