The following guest post about U.S. Drone Soccer was written by Dawn Zoldi, Founder and CEO at P3 Tech Consulting LLC. Zoldi is a 25-year Air Force veteran and an internationally recognized expert in advanced technology law and policy.
True to its mission to make aerospace education accessible for all students, U.S. Drone Soccer kicked off its national campaign in January 2022 to inspire the next generation of drone and aviation enthusiasts.
And this STEM education program-meets-Harry Potter Quidditch esport is really taking off.
President and CEO, David Roberts, who previously took the U.S. Drone Racing Team to two FAI World Championships and VP of Education and Development, Kyle Sanders (Major USAF Ret.) tested the program over the past year in Colorado. After successful launches with several Title I high schools and community organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region, they have expanded with new leagues in New York, Ohio and internationally.
In New York, U.S. Drone Soccer has partnered with New York-based CNY Drones, supported by the nearby Air Force Research Laboratory, to grow a statewide league. Organizations joining their effort include universities, community colleges, the New York Police Department, and community outreach programs, such as Drone Cadets.
Co-founded by Tony Reid, an African American Part 107 Remote Pilot and Sergeant in the Army National Guard, Drone Cadets has inspired more than two thousand students throughout the Hudson Valley, NYC and across the world. “We are exposing underserved communities to drone technology,” said Reid. “We’ve witnessed the power of drones to open doors and change lives. Most importantly, we’ve seen the reluctant student suddenly drawn to the center of the activity. We’ve watched the shy student find the courage to lead the class. We’ve witnessed the angry, detached child calm down, think, focus and become engaged with a learning mindset. We are grateful to all parents for giving us a chance to teach their child about drone technology and for U.S. Drone Soccer to part of our offerings to do so.”
Xtreme STEM, a nonprofit based in southern Ohio, currently hosts robotics and 3D printing competitions for fifty school teams. They will debut Drone Soccer in spring and will host summer camps and the first academic tournaments this fall. “We think drones are a fantastic hook to get students involved in high-tech manufacturing and aerospace, which is a big industry for Ohio,” said Steve Staub, President.
Since its campaign kickoff in January 2022, more than fifty educational organizations from the District of Columbia, North Carolina and Los Angeles, among others, have inquired about starting drone soccer leagues in their areas.
In addition to the program’s national focus, the U.S. Drone Soccer team has also introduced its STEM/esport north of the border, in partnership with Project Safe Canada, who provides drone training to indigenous communities. According to Mark Palka, Managing Director, Project Safe Canada, a not-for-profit organization that promotes safe communities for indigenous peoples through citizen awareness and community participation in project-driven initiatives, drone soccer is something that fits well into its wellness and training programs and other drone clubs.
“We recently launched Drone Soccer Canada with a Train the Trainer in Vegreville Alberta Canada,” said Palka. “We were excited with the acceptance, both as an educational initiative and as a competitive sport.” He continued, “U.S. Drone Soccer has a well organized and thought-out program that will bring the opportunities of sport and aviation learning to our youth across Canada, through schools and community recreation.”
U.S. Drone Soccer also recently secured U.S. Consulate funding to travel to Lagos, Nigeria, Africa, to develop the first-ever African drone soccer program. The innovative program is conditioned on forming eight girl-led teams across Lagos State District 1 to compete in an African Drone Soccer Competition on February 4.
For more information about how to start a drone soccer league near you, visit U.S. Drone Soccer.
–By Dawn Zoldi
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