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Team Guardian: Flying to first place

In 2010, four Faculty of Applied Sciences students came together to create SFU's only competitive team focused on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or, more commonly, drones. Their first competition was the 2011 Unmanned Systems Canada Student Competition (USCSC) in Valcartier, QC.

The young team applied theoretical classroom knowledge to collaborate on a pressing, real-world issue. In this case, forest fires. In the competition, they used UAVs to detect smoldering hot spots normally done by people in a helicopter, which can be tedious, expensive and potentially dangerous. 

Mechatronic Systems Engineering alumnus, Tim Gjernes, was one of the original Team Guardian members. His life-long interest in radio-controlled aircraft and his desire to get involved at SFU outside the classroom led him to join.

Tim recalls the dedication of the team that first year as they prepared, "we'd typically meet on Saturdays but as competition drew closer, we'd be working eight to 10 hours a day on Team Guardian."

Tim found the competition atmosphere "really exciting and full of camraderie. It was great to meet other university teams, learn from each other and connect with sponsors from organizations like ING Robotic Aviation, Xiphos Technologies and the Royal Canadian Air Force."

Today, Team Guradian has more than 20 student members and strives to participate in several competitions in Canada and the U.S. annually. Last year they placed first at the 2016 Drone Fair and second at the 2016 USCSC.

The team - which is currently captained by Tim's younger brother, Kris - has invested in several aircraft updates this year, including the introduction of a new hexacopter. Team Guardian is currently crowdfunding to help cover some of the competition costs for this spring. To support the team in their quest to fly to first place, please click here.