Bird’s eye view: Wilson Chen captures the beauty of campus

Wilson Chen flies his drone

Wilson Chen sees the SUNY Broome campus from above – the paths snaking through the autumn trees, the tops of buildings gleaming with snow, each vista slowly melting into another.

But the Engineering Science major isn’t Superman or riding the wings of eagles. Instead, his hobby is aerial photography and he uses a drone to capture majestic views of the campus he calls home.

Wilson’s drone’s-eye view of the Student Village

His actual hometown is on the other side of the globe – in Guangdong Province in southeastern China; Wilson, whose first name is actually Jiongzhen, attends SUNY Broome as an international student. He loves to tackle challenges, and has jumped wholeheartedly into both academic and campus life.

In addition to his highly challenging major, Chen is a Resident Assistant at the Student Village, and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Engineering Club. In addition to taking 18.5 credits this semester, Chen juggles two other campus jobs: working for Public Safety and as a math tutor. When he does have a spare moment, he heads to the engineering lab to work on projects he enjoys.  He doesn’t mind the hectic nature of his days, he said.

Wilson’s drone’s-eye view of the Student Village

“Even though I am busy, I still can balance my work and my academic well and get a 4.0 GPA,” he said.

You might see Chen on campus flying his drone; that’s the fun part of the process, he said. He did his research to find the drone best suited for his hobby, and learned how to edit video to give his clips a seamless feel. It can take several hours to create a drone video, but the end product is worth the effort.

Natural Science Center, via Wilson Chen’s drone

Graduating in May, he’s “90 percent certain” that he will transfer to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to complete his bachelor’s degree in computer system or electrical engineering.

Why cross the globe to come to SUNY Broome?

“I wanted to go to a two-year school to adjust to the environment first and improve my English,” he explained, “and then go to a four-year school. I want to take time to improve.”

A drone’s view of campus, courtesy of Wilson Chen

Language is the most difficult barrier for many international students to overcome, and international students such as Wilson also must navigate cultural differences. Living in the Student Village helped on both counts; it provided Chen with the opportunity to make many American friends and further his knowledge and experience of the culture.

“I like the environment here and everything here,” he said.

Chen became an RA to push himself, and continue his progress in the English language. It also gave him the opportunity to develop additional skills — problem-solving, communication and leadership, he noted – that will translate to academic and professional success down the road.

“I want to learn as much as I can and get more experience in America,” he said.

Please check with the Office of Public Safety on current policies before flying a drone on campus.