HomeVU Students Will Be Using Their Drones To Help The City Win The America’s Best Community

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VALPARAISO | An international student at Valparaiso University will use high-flying technology to help the city of Valparaiso win a contest naming it America’s best community.

In April, the city of Valparaiso, along with LaPorte, was named one of 50 quarterfinalists of America’s Best Communities competition. From that point the city had six months to complete revitalization plans for a chance to move on to the next round.

Yi Luo and his drone will be helping the city in its quest to win up to $3 million to execute those plans.


City Planner Tyler Kent said Luo will use his drone, which may be a first such use of that technology for the city, to shoot videos and take photos related to the contest. Luo also may be doing work related to editing video and photography as well. The partnership means an internship for Luo, which will help him with his residency.

“It gives him an opportunity to get work in the field,” Kent said. “And we’ll get cool video and an aspect you typically don’t get from a regular camera.”

Luo, who also goes by “Larry,” came from China to Valparaiso University in the spring of 2014 to pursue his master’s in digital media. As a student photographer with the university’s integrated marketing communication department he’s used his drone to capture aerial footage on campus.

For the city, Luo said he’ll fly his drone and “take a lot of video and pictures.”

Luo said he’s always wanted to become a pilot but would not have passed the vision requirements. But now he’s a remote control pilot with a technology that’s gaining momentum.

“It’s a brand new style of art,” Luo said.

The America’s Best Communities competition is sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, The Weather Channel and CoBank.