Student Spotlight - Jake Rabinowitz

Jake Rabinowitz standing on Mount Katahdin


Major: Aeronautics (Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Operations)

Minor: Geographic Information Science

Expected Graduation: Spring 2024

Jake recently orchestrated the first fully autonomous flight of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering’s Alta-X Cargo Drone on a preplanned course above the soccer field - a journey from launch to landing entirely hands-free. What led Jake to this groundbreaking feat?

From his roots in River Edge, New Jersey, Jake harbored an unwavering fascination with aviation. His early adventures, including trips to Florida and flying cheap drones with friends, fueled his love for flight. The unique perspective drones provided, capturing intricate details from above, captivated Jake's imagination and became a driving force in his career aspirations.

Kent State University was the natural choice for Jake due to its reputable pilot program and the appealing blend of a small-town atmosphere with access to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the nearby cities of Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Jake’s passion for nature led him to become a president and co-founder of Kent State's Outdoor Advocacy Club.

As Jake progressed through aeronautic studies, a pivotal class with one of his favorite professors - Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Practicum with Dr. Hassler - became a turning point. Moving beyond the basics of the introductory course, this course merged mission planning, risk mitigation, regulation compliance, flight coordination and proficiency, setting the stage for an intriguing discovery.

Jake recalls the moment when Dr. Hassler introduced him to the Alta-X platform, stashed in the back of a storage room collecting dust. Despite its non-operational state, Jake embarked on an independent investigation, driven by curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. With the platform missing crucial components - batteries, monitors, landing gear, and payloads - Jake saw an opportunity to apply his classroom knowledge to real-world experimentation.

Because of limited information available from the manufacturer, research and careful experimentation were paramount to Jake. Each test and failure ushered in a deeper understanding of platform operations and safety protocols, bridging the gap between classroom theory and practical application. The Alta-X's adaptability and stability enthralled Jake, who envisions future applications such as surveys and thermal imaging for wildlife monitoring near airports.

Jake's advice to fellow students echoes his own journey: embrace curiosity, build connections, and pursue unexpected interests. “If there is something that sparks your interest, chase it and embrace it,” says Jake. “Ten-year-old me would’ve never imagined I would be going to college for drone operations! In this modern age, any niche can be extrapolated into being a career, you just have to chase it down!”

Jake envisions a career post-graduation in UAS agriculture or surveying, with aspirations to earn a Professional Surveyors License and establish his own firm. But first, he has exciting plans to explore all the West has to offer with a friend - hiking the Colorado and John Muir Trails, scaling high peaks and camping under star-covered skies.

But until then, Jake relishes being a Flash. What does that mean? According to Jake, it means being part of an interconnected community of hard-working and inspired individuals ready to make a difference in the world.

Jake's story embodies the essence of exploration, learning, and the dynamic spirit thriving within Kent State's College of Aeronautics and Engineering. Dare Mighty Things!

Jake Rabinowitz on Mount Katahdin

In a Nutshell

Beyond Aeronautics: Played saxophone with The Marching Golden Flashes for the past four years.

Advice for New Students: The one thing I will always buy from the bookstore is a planner to keep myself on track. Having everything written down allows me to have a physical connection to the day’s tasks.

You Might Be Surprised to Find Out: Although an advocate of nature, I can’t stand the beach and I don’t understand why people like it, especially the Jersey shore. It’s just too sandy and it’s a targeting range for seagulls. Also, the sand is coarse and irritating and it gets everywhere.

Proud Moment: Hiking 500+ miles this past summer across Maine, including the Appalachian Trails, Acadia and the coast, through rain, mud and bad weather.

Favorite Spot on Campus: I absolutely love the Adventure Center Rock Wall. When I’m not sleeping, eating, working, or in class, I’m climbing. If there’s one thing that has kept me motivated for each day, it’s knowing I’ll cap it off with a great time climbing around with my friends until the wall closes and the staff has to kindly escort us off it.

Favorite Movie: I am a diehard “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” fan. Only the original though, not the Johnny Depp remake. I’ve watched it 20+ times and can quote almost the entire movie. It’s a problem.

How Many Black Squirrels Do You See in a Typical Day? Around 5-10. They are genuinely adorable and one of my favorite subjects to take pictures of!

Playlist: In the past year I have listened to more King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard than I would like to disclose! The fellas from down under just can’t make a bad album! I also really love Radiohead and Steely Dan with the occasional guilty pleasure of listening to the entire Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat soundtrack.

Life Goals: I want to scale the highpoints of each contiguous state in the U.S., as well as to section hike the Appalachian Trail. Also, wildlife and landscape photography has quickly become one of my favorite pastimes, and it would be so awesome to turn that into a business, traveling to distant places, capturing them in my lens and sharing with all!

POSTED: Thursday, December 7, 2023 10:55 AM
Updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 11:24 AM