Drone Forward Challenges and Inspires Students

By Dawn Klavon | September 30, 2022

Drone Forward, Inc is bringing STEAM education to the forefront for eager students.  The 501(c)(3) non-profit, founded by a passionate group of educators and entrepreneurs, offers unique learning opportunities based around aerial drone education.

“It’s been really good to get 10-year-olds thinking about business and how to create a business plan and develop something and make sure that it makes sense,” said Christine Wacta, whose daughter, Chloe, attended a Drone Forward camp. The program, she said, teaches about advanced technology, pushing students to challenge themselves past anything they’ve encountered before.

“One of the things about the setup –  the vision of Drone Forward is treating a child as somebody whose view matters,” Wacta said. Through the Drone Forward camps, she said, “I’ve seen my child’s potential that I never thought I would – if you give them the tools, they will blow your mind.”

Drone Forward designs educational programs to engage, educate and empower students of all ages about science, technology, engineering, math and art (STEAM). The Atlanta-based organization custom designs in-person and virtual events for groups of all ages. Whether it’s a one-hour FPV (first-person view) racing drone build classes, day-long events with drone flying lessons or talks from drone entrepreneurs, Drone Forward uses drone-centric STEAM education to be the vehicle to accomplish the greatest results. 

Underserved Populations

Through their comprehensive programming, Drone Forward intentionally reaches out to underserved populations. Their Pathways Program aids in overcoming obstacles in uncrewed aviation vehicles/uncrewed aviation systems (UAV/UAS) for people with disabilities. Its multi-pronged approach to help everyone – from students just starting their journey in the industry to long-time UAV/UAS corporations – provides disability accommodations to staff and clients. 

Drone Forward is founded by entrepreneurial educator Jesse Pacheco, who spent years teaching at-risk youth in Richmond, VA. 

“I saw a segment of student populations who would never come in contact with technology or know about the growing number of careers possible through drone  technology,” Pacheco said. “I wanted to design an organization to reach out and enlighten interested students of all ages about their own potential in the drone industry.”

The program aims to serve underrepresented students, exposing them to technology and potential careers.

“If you think about underserved communities, women and girls are part of it – why?-- because of the societal profile of a woman,” said Wacta, who is a Ph.D and college professor of architecture, urban design and landscape. “Drone Forward was really a good support to the type of education I hope for my daughter to have – to have intellectual independence.”

Future Careers

Drone Forward is passionate about solidifying the link between education and future uncrewed systems careers. Their mission is to strengthen the contributions of robotics and uncrewed vehicle technologies by providing youth in diverse American communities with educational opportunities and experiential gateways that lead to drone related careers of the future. 

“Now is the time to teach about the huge potential in drone technology,” said Pacheco. “I could sit in a classroom for hours and not get through to a student, but hand them a drone, set up a scavenger hunt, and their eyes light up.”

The Drone Forward education team has developed a set of four Signature Education Programs designed to facilitate STEAM and 21st Century Skills development. These four programs provide a central pathway for all students, starting at age 10 with our Drone Builders Challenge and ending with programs for young adults seeking career/professional education. 

“Drone Forward has an inhouse staff to accommodate students who do not have access to programs like ours and all students lacking in resources receive full scholarships because of our donors,” said Pacheco.

Each Drone Forward program has variations with modifications made to accommodate virtual, in-person, and hybrid modalities.  Drone Forward Signature Education Programs are available to educational organizations at industry competitive rates and for schools in low-funding situations, the non-profit will actively develop partnerships and utilize our in-house grant writing team to provide our resources.

For more information about Drone Forward, Inc, visit https://www.droneforwardinc.com/.