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The New Classroom: Drones, Soccer, and the STEM Connection

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How Drone Soccer Can Shape The New STEM Programs

Have you ever heard of drone soccer? 

No, it’s not a sci-fi fantasy or a concept from a future sport in a dystopian novel. It’s real, it’s here, and it’s about to flip the traditional idea of sports and education on its head.

What the Heck is Drone Soccer?

You probably watched Harry Potter, did you? 

In short: Drone Soccer is like quidditch, but everyone is a bludger. 

A bit longer: Imagine a mix of the high-flying excitement of drone flight with the strategic depth of soccer. Teams are trying to get points by crossing one of the three gates, and the rest of the team is doing their best to stop this from happening. 

It’s fast, it’s furious, and it requires a cocktail of skill, strategy, and teamwork. Players pilot their drones in an enclosed arena, aiming to score goals against the opposing team. Sounds fun, right? But it’s not just a game; it’s a revolutionary way to teach and learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Taking It to the Classroom: Academic Drone Soccer

Enter Academic Drone Soccer — the brainchild of visionaries who looked at those buzzing quadcopters and saw an opportunity. An opportunity not just to race or score goals but to build, to learn, and to inspire. 

This isn’t about teaching kids to fly drones; it’s about using drones as a captivating, hands-on method to dive deep into STEM.

And today they shared some big news!

The Letter of Intent that’s making waves right now? It’s a beacon of what’s possible when innovation meets education. It outlines a bold vision where students aren’t just passive learners; they’re pilots, engineers, tacticians, immersed in a world where every game is a lesson.

What’s the Big Deal About This Intent?

Why should we care? 

Because it represents a shift, a leap towards a future where learning isn’t confined to textbooks and four walls. This letter lays down the foundation of a program set to engage, challenge, and equip students with skills for tomorrow. It’s about creating a symbiotic relationship between sport and education, where each match is a doorway to curiosity, problem-solving, and teamwork.

The magic of Academic Drone Soccer isn’t just in mastering the controls; it’s in designing and building drones, understanding aerodynamics, learning about electronic circuits, and so much more. 

It’s STEM in action, unbound and electrifying.

Let’s Talk

Now, over to you! What do you think about blending drone soccer with STEM education? Could this be the key to unlocking a new generation of innovators and thinkers? The pitch, or in this case, the arena, is set for a game changer. But the outcome? That’s what we need to discuss.

So, share your thoughts, your hesitations, or your outright enthusiasm. Are we looking at a gimmick, or is this the future of education? Let’s dive into the conversation.

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Georgia Tech’s Pilots Win Bronze at Collegiate Drone Racing Championship

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Drone racing Championship

The RotorJackets from Georgia Tech were gunning for a three-peat at the Collegiate Drone Racing Championship after winning the event in 2022 and 2023. Unfortunately, they just fell short this year and had to settle for third place.
The competition was fierce at the 2024 Collegiate Drone Racing Championship, with over 60 pilots from 16 universities across the country taking part. The competition continues to grow year after year as the sport has exploded in popularity. There are now multiple pro leagues, and the top pilots are pulling six figures.

The RotorJackets Are in a Rebuilding Phase

The RotorJackets were established in 2020 and immediately had success on the drone racing scene. However, all of the original members have graduated, and the club is working overtime to recruit and train the next generation of Georgia Tech ace pilots.
The head of the RotorJackets, Ian Boraks, said he couldn’t be prouder of the team. He says the club has shown that it can successfully replace top talent and has the structure and training program in place to ensure the club can continue competing at the highest level.
The RotorJackets have some lofty goals. They want to teach others how to build, design, and fly their drones. At the same time, their racing team wants to win competitions on the international stage. We could see a professional RotorJackets squad tearing up the Drone Racing League (DRL) in the future!

The Collegiate Drone Racing Championship Was Held at Purdue University

The Collegiate Drone Racing Championship is held annually at Purdue University, where drones whizz around IM Fields at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. The first competition took place in 2017 and featured 48 pilots. The competition has grown radically over the last seven years.
The 2024 Collegiate Drone Racing Championship took place over two days from April 13 to April 14, and 64 pilots competed. The first-person view (FPV) race saw the pilots throw on their goggles and expertly navigate their drones through the different gates. The pilots showed an incredible ability to remain in control of their drones as they flew around the course at breakneck speed.
Ultimately, the 2024 Collegiate Drone Racing Championship was won by Virginia Tech. Oregon State University came second, and rounding out the top three was Georgia Tech. Oregon State came out of nowhere, 2024 was the first time the team had made it onto the podium. Nobody, including Georgia Tech, was expecting them to place so highly.
The RotorJackets have been participating since 2020, including first-place finishes in 2022 and 2023. The club continues to recruit new sponsors and members and now boasts 30 pilots. The team regularly travels to competitions throughout the East Coast.
The RotorJackets have formed a close relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration, Georgia Tech Police Department, and the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. The team practices almost daily, flying their drones over Stamps Field. They’ve recently secured permission to host competitions on the field, which they hope will get even more people to join the RotorJackets.

Drone Racing Is the Sport of the Future

eSports went mainstream around 2018, and now it’s time for drone racing to hit the big leagues. The sport is starting to get mainstream media coverage, and social media clips are racking up millions of views. There are now numerous professional leagues, and races are being held in sold-out stadiums.
Drone racing combines humans’ love of speed with the latest technology to create a captivating next-generation sport. The RotorJackets’ president describes drone racing as 3D Formula 1 racing. Just like F-1 racing, drone racing is lightning-quick, with drones exceeding 100 miles per hour, and features high-speed braking and G-forces.
This innovative motorsport is packed with non-stop action, and there’s never a dull moment. Also, unlike other racing sports, drone racing is far more accessible. You can purchase a drone and goggles for a few hundred bucks and, within a couple of months, be participating in competitions.
The RotorJackets are training hard and have their eyes firmly on regaining their Collegiate Drone Racing Championship title. The team is planning on bringing a stacked squad to the 2025 Championship. They’ll have to be at their best if they’re going to take out the in-form Virginia Tech!
Read more: Robot Dogs, Drones, and Racing Cars Reign Supreme Inside D-ITET Centre

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From Passion to Full Time career — how Thomas Bitmatta changed his life — and so can you

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Changing Passion in a lucrative career

Thumbnail from YouTube interview with Thomas

There’s a moment in life when you stand at the edge of a decision. 

Before you, lies the comfortable, the known. Behind you, the whisper of what could be beckons — a call to adventure that won’t silence. For Thomas Bitmatta, known in the drone racing skies as BMS Thomas, that moment wasn’t just a fleeting thought. It was a crossroads. And his choice? To leap.

Thomas’s story isn’t one of overnight success or serendipitous luck. 

No. 

It’s a narrative hewn from the bedrock of passion, a relentless pursuit of mastery in the fast world of FPV (First-Person View) drone racing. In the grand scheme of life’s pursuits, Thomas chose a path less taken, and it has made all the difference.

The Ascent Begins

Imagine, for a moment, a hobby. 

Now watch as that hobby turns into an obsession, that obsession into a calling. This is the genesis of BMS Thomas’s journey from an intrigued enthusiast dabbling in drone flights to becoming a beloved icon in the global drone racing community.

“Today, I bring you the story of a dreamer who dared to chase his dreams across the skies.”

Thomas’s story began quietly in Australia, sparked by a simple YouTube video. 

Fast forward through years of tinkering, learning, and countless flights, and you find the moment where hobby crossed into destiny. Thomas didn’t just enter the world of drone racing; he redefined his life’s trajectory with a racing drone’s throttle.

Racing Against the Wind

In conversation, Thomas shared insights of his early days, reminiscing about the makeshift races in Melbourne, the allure of the Japan drone league, and his subsequent ascension to international fame. Each race, each flight was more than competition; it was a chapter in his ongoing tale of self-discovery and perseverance.

“It’s more than just flying,” Thomas reflected. “It’s about pushing boundaries, both the drones and my own.”

His journey highlights not merely the evolution of a racer but the transformation of a life through passion. Amidst talks of tracks, technicalities, and tournaments, there’s a subtle yet profound message: dedication, coupled with a love for one’s craft, can elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Navigating Through Turbulence

Yet, the path was not free of challenges. In his chase for passion, Thomas navigated through rough moments — balancing the demands of competitive racing with the rigours of building a career. Sponsorships didn’t come easy, nor did the recognition. It demanded more than skill; it required visibility, influence, and a deep-seated belief in the value of his pursuit.

“And then, something clicked. The right place, the right time, and suddenly, the support came.”

Thomas’s narrative serves as a beacon for anyone standing on the brink of pursuing their dream. It’s a testament to the truth that success, in any field, is a concoction of passion, persistence, and a willingness to forge ahead despite the odds.

Can you do it as well?

Today, BMS Thomas continues to race, not just as a competitor but as an inspiration. His journey tells us that to follow one’s passion is not to walk a path free of obstacles, but to navigate through storms, propelled by the heart.

“If there’s anything my journey has taught me,” Thomas said, “it’s that dreams are not just fleeting whims. They are the seeds of our future.”

See, life, much like drone racing, is not about the fear of falling. It’s about the thrill of flight, the pursuit of passions, and the unwavering courage to chase the horizon, no matter where it leads.

And so, to anyone teetering on the edge of decision, remember BMS Thomas. Remember that when passion takes flight, the sky’s not the limit — it’s just the beginning.

Watch the full interview with Thomas here

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What Makes Killian Rousseau Such a Dominant Drone Pilot?

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Drone Racing Pilot

Killian Rousseau, hailing from France, has been ripping up drone racing competitions since he was just 14 years old. The French ace pilot became the 2018 FAI Drone Racing World Cup champion as a teenager!

In 2023, Rousseau once again won the FAI Drone Racing World Cup. The young pilot was in a close back-and-forth battle with Pawel Laszczak. In all six races, Rousseau managed to climb onto the podium, racking up three wins, two silvers, and a bronze. This level of consistency ensured he added another title to his already impressive collection.

In a recent interview, the world champion shared his secrets and what it takes to become a professional pilot.

Rousseau Trains Everday!

The French pilot has put all other things on the back burner and has committed 100% of his efforts towards racing. He spends every day on the simulator fine-tuning his motor skills and perfecting his strategy. Then, every two days, he pilots actual drones.

Rousseau is extremely keen to defend his world title. He’ll be traveling and competing full-time throughout the season. He’s keen to avenge his poor performance at the last World Championships, where he finished 18th.

Another event you’re likely to see Rousseau compete in is The World Games in 2025 in Chengdu. He considers this event to be particularly tough and an honor to be invited. Rousseau is hoping to repeat his 2022 World Games performance, in which he took gold.

French Pilot Looks for New Ways to Make Money From Drone Racing

Rousseau has recently finished studying commerce and can now dedicate even more time to drone racing, which is a scary thought for his opponents. Traveling to different competitions and daily training takes up a huge amount of the 20-year-old’s time.

As prize pools for drone racing are still modest, Rousseau has decided to boost his income by starting his own drone filming company. However, his first love and main focus remains drone racing.

The French drone maestro can’t get enough of the feeling of beating other talented pilots on beautiful tracks around the world. Even though traveling can get tiring, he loves exploring new places with his fellow pilots.

Simulator and Never Quit Attitude Is Key to Rousseau’s Success

Rousseau first started drone racing when he was just 12 years old, back in 2017. Since then, he hasn’t taken any time off. He’s incredibly diligent when it comes to training and is constantly looking over his shoulder at the next generation of pilots.

He says the race meta is changing radically from year to year, so it’s a never-ending battle to stay ahead of other competitors. He has to dedicate a huge amount of time to practice.

Rousseau credits purchasing a simulator with allowing him to continue to improve. He spends hours everyday, often practing into the early morning, pumping out lap after lap. F1 champion Max Verstappen is also known for his love of simulators.

Before and after every race, Rousseau will hop on the simular and race over and over again. He’s gained so much experience over the years that racing has become second nature to him. He demands perfection from himself, repeatedly tweaking his strategy and chasing consistency.

Rousseau Shares Advice for Up-and-coming Drone Pilots

Even though Rousseau has managed to become a full-time professional drone pilot, he doesn’t recommend others to follow his path. He believes young pilots should still focus on school and work and make sure they’re racing because they love the sport instead of trying to make a career.

Rousseau said what helped him the most was meeting experienced drone pilots and flying with them. He also emphasized the importance of competing as much as possible. Finally, he said there are a lot of ups and downs in drone racing, so it’s incredibly important that you never quit until you finally succeed.

The 2024 FAI World Drone Championships will take place in China from Thursday, October 31, to Sunday, November 3, 2024. The event will be held in Hangzhou at the Shangcheng District Sports Center. Tune in to see if Rousseau can take out defending champion MinChan Kim. It’s set to be a battle between the two ace pilots!

Read more: FPV Drone Racing Explained

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