The sound of drones buzzing filled the air on the sunny afternoon of August 10, when the Base 11 Summer Fellows at UCI got to showcase their final presentations at The Cove @ UCI Applied Innovation.

During the eight-week Autonomous Systems Engineering Academy, students lived on campus and got to learn how to build and fly their own drones, from programming a microcomputer to 3D-printing parts for a quadcopter.

“Besides the great connections made with the other Base 11 participants, I obtained so much hands-on experience with the manufacturing side of building the drone and learned a lot of new skills from the instructors Ernest, Leo, and Makayla on aerospace, designing, SolidWorks, and coding,” said Pasadena College’s Edgar Macias.

Justin Buhay and Edgar Macias following their successful drone demonstration.

Technical skills were not the only takeaway however, as students were also able to hone their communication, team-building, and other “soft skills” needed to succeed in the workplace.

Derek Russell

“One of the most valuable skills I gained from this internship at University of California, Irvine Autonomous System Engineering Academy is the ability to speak with people in a professional setting. Gaining the skills of being able to negotiate with people, bosses or coworkers without stepping out of your professional character,” said Chabot College’s Derek Russell.




Justin Buhay



“[The fellowship] has opened up many opportunities for me to explore. It helps me by expanding my personal skills on my resume, and making me a more well-rounded, experienced person. This experience also shows that I have a mind for creativity and it really will be something that recruiters will look at,” said Justin Buhay of Skyline College.

The program was led by Ernest Garrison of the UCI Office of Access and Inclusion. Not only did he provide invaluable mentorship and support during the fellowship, but was also able gain from the experience himself.

“As a Base 11 Mentor, I was able to learn more knowledge for myself as an instructor, as well as explore different ways to deliver the curriculum,” said Garrison.

Although the fellowship may have ended, the students’ STEM journeys have only just begun. But one thing is certain: this will definitely be a summer they will never forget.

Brothers Mario and Carlos Acuna proudly presenting their drone at the UCI summer presentations.

“Before the internship, I felt that the knowledge I had was not enough to begin working on my own projects. Now, I feel the confidence to get more involved on the STEM community, and shared the knowledge I obtained during my internship with others. As a general goal, I want to take all the certification tests for SolidWorks, re-create and improve the drone we built during the internship and work on some personal projects with help of my peers at my community college,” said Skyline College’s Mario Acuna.

“It has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. I made many connections and best friends,” said Buhay.
Learn more about Base 11’s summer fellowships.