Flying High

Recent Southeastern computer science graduate explores drone technology while producing campus video

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 

Four years of working toward his degree in computer science flew by, and Simon Andersson has the aerial footage to prove it.

Andersson needed a break from studying for final exams. That's when the recent Southeastern graduate pulled out his recently purchased drone and did what any guy would do with a new toy. He put the machine through its paces, flying the four-prop DJI Phantom 2 drone around the tree-filled university and making a short, aerial video of the Hammond campus.

"It was a nice stress reliever," said Andersson, a native of Sweden who moved to the United States with his family several years ago. "I did it to leave a legacy of the campus where I walked the sidewalks for the past four years. I wanted to showcase some of the nice parts of campus on a beautiful spring day in Louisiana."


Andersson shows his device to one of his mentoring instructors, Burris, assistant professor of computer science. Andersson is now working with a software development firm in Metairie.

The drone is equipped with a stabilized, controllable 12 megapixel action camera known as GoPro. This allowed him to shoot overhead video of the entire 365-acre campus, ranging from the historical part of the campus at the south end to the modern residential areas of the north. The video lasts slightly more than two minutes and is being used by the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology to showcase the talents of one of its students.

"Simon was one of our best students and a great guy," said John Burris, assistant professor of computer science who, Andersson says, was one of his most influential instructors and mentors. "It's not surprising he would tackle a project like this on his own."

Now a full time computer programmer, the Mandeville resident is putting the knowledge and skills he learned at Southeastern into his new job at a software company in Metairie. He is also starting work toward earning an MBA.

"The things I get to do at work are a great reflection of what I've learned at Southeastern," Andersson said. "The computer science program truly prepared me, even more than I expected. I may be biased, but I truly believe the computer science program at Southeastern is the best in the state."

He said he especially appreciated that Southeastern introduces its computer science students to project classes starting in the sophomore year that emphasizes teamwork and instruction in Agile Development, a team-based software development approach being used increasingly in business. In addition, he praised the tight bond the faculty members create with their students.

"I knew all my instructors personally," he said. "Their passion to teach and get students a quality education shines through everything they do."

While no faculty members were involved in his aerial fly-over project, Andersson had been talking with computer science Professor Kuo-Pao Yang, who shares his interest in drone technology.

"I love where drone technology is moving, and I love being creative with cinematography and photography. I know I will keep challenging myself in my hobby," he said. "It is a growing field with use in lots of areas, including real estate and surveying. A lot of people and companies will pay good money for nice aerial shots that could have never been achieved before unless you paid well for a helicopter to do the shots. If I get some chances to make some money with this, I would probably take the opportunity."

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