The Air Up There Podcast
A Droneversity Education

Season 6, Episode 16
Published:

One remarkable aspect of drones is their ability to offer us a higher perspective. In this episode, Ashlee Cooper, the founder of Droneversity, shares her insights into drones and innovative applications to advance STEM education. 

Droneversity educates children about drones through immersive experiences like drone soccer, an international e-sport that fosters teamwork, problem-solving, and technical skills. The organization also ensures that all players pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST), an FAA requirement that provides education and testing on important drone safety and regulatory information, before you fly.  

Ashlee envisions a world where drones are seen as more than just a hobby. Through Droneversity, students, educators, and enthusiasts are empowered to explore their potential in the dynamic world of drones, coding, careers, and technology. 
 
Share this episode to help others elevate their view on potential aerospace careers and the world around them. 
 
Meet Our Guest 
Ashlee Cooper is the founder Droneversity, an organization that aims to bridge the gap in the drone and aviation industry, particularly for underrepresented groups. Ashlee is an FAA certificated Remote Pilot and FAA Drone Pro in the Northeast Region.  

Disclaimer: Reference in this podcast to any specific commercial product, process, service, manufacturer, company, or trademark does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. government, Department of Transportation, or Federal Aviation Administration. As an agency of the U.S. government, the FAA cannot endorse or appear to endorse any specific product or service. 
 

The Air Up There: A Droneversity Education
A Droneversity Education
Audio file

00:00
Ashlee Cooper: Particularly talking about some of our girls and how quick they were able to like repair and fix drones. It was that NASCAR pitstop. I saw players handing, you know, their drone to another crew member and I mean, in a blink of a eye, they were handing it back. The propellers had been replaced, some of the wiring had been fixed and I was just like - wow.  

00:25
DaiJah Metoyer: That’s Ashlee Cooper, talking about the support players, or pit crew atmosphere at a drone soccer event.  

00:31
Lucy Jabbour: Ashlee is an FAA drone pro and a drone soccer commissioner for Delaware. She’s also the founder and CEO of Droneversity. 

00:39
DaiJah Metoyer: And she’s our guest. We’re your hosts.  I’m DaiJah Metoyer.

00:43
Lucy Jabbour: I’m Lucy Jabbour - and this is The Air Up There!

00:47
Various People: This is your captain speaking. The feeling I get when I’m flying; you get an adrenaline rush. Seeing something fly is awesome. It’s incredible to be able to fly. Flying airplanes is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I get so excited about aviation, aeronautics, space, engineering, and tech. Like star gazing and just wondering what it would be like to be up there. I just fell in love with it. Stick with your passion and pursue it. Just know you can do it. There is not a room, there is not a cockpit, there is not a place that you don’t belong. There’s certainly a place for everybody in aerospace.

01:20
DaiJah Metoyer: In this episode, our guest talks about how the drone soccer players have their TRUST. TRUST stands for The Recreational UAS Safety Test.

01:29
Lucy Jabbour: And UAS are unmanned aircraft systems or drones. So, it’s a test for recreational drone flyers. If you fly your drone recreationally, you must pass the test before you fly. 

01:44
DaiJah Metoyer: TRUST isn’t just a test, it also teaches flyers important safety information. Learn more about it at faa.gov/uas.

01:56
Lucy Jabbour: Ashlee, what is Droneversity? What does the organization do?  

02:00
Ashlee Cooper: We’re just providing people with a lot of tools to be able to take advantage of everything that aerospace and STEM has to offer. We’ve helped schools bring in drones where they wouldn’t have been able to afford maybe a traditional robotics program. We also work with other organizations and business to create curriculum really just put everything in layman language. So, we speak to the non-aviator. 

02:32
Lucy Jabbour: One of the ways in, for like non-aviators, is sometimes esports. I saw on your website, one of the things you do teach kids about drones, like how you get them into is by playing drone soccer. Can you explain that for those of us who have like never been to a game? 

02:47
Ashlee Cooper: If you are familiar with the Quidditch game in Harry Potter, it is very similar to that. It is an international e-sport. So, they're using that radio, aka the gaming controller, to actually fly a drone that is enclosed by a plastic cage. And you have some actual positions and the striker is the one who can score. All the other active players are playing offense and defense. But then you have those inactive players that aren't flying. But they're your crew members. So, they provide the support of battery management, repair, programming. So, that whole crew environment that is synonymous with aviation. You see that in drone soccer. 

03:44
DaiJah Metoyer: This is something I'd be like really interested in watching.

03:48
Ashlee Cooper: It really is early career training for aerospace. We love that it touches on everything when it comes to like STEM - science, technology, engineering, math. All of the players get their TRUST. Just to build out this safety culture. We even recommend for parents to get their TRUST. Each player will learn how to build, slash engineer, the drone. They will learn to program the drone. We add in a coding aspect of it so they can be more competitive. 

04:24
Lucy Jabbour: That's great. 

04:26
Ashlee Cooper: As well as any, doing any crashes. They're troubleshooting. They're repairing. So, it allows for that decision making. So, similar to NASCAR, particularly talking about some of our girls and how quick they were able to like repair and fix drones. It was that NASCAR pitstop. I saw players handing, you know, their drone to another crew member and I mean, in a blink of a eye, they were handing it back. The propellers had been replaced, you know, some of the wiring had been fixed and I was just like - wow.  

04:59
DaiJah Metoyer: Can you tell us what inspired you to create Droneversity?

05:03
Ashlee Cooper: My daughter. She was like my first drone student. I realized it was an opportunity to teach her actually how to code. I felt if she could visually see the result of coding through a drone taking flight, it would be more entertaining. I’ve always been that person who wanted to teach somebody else. And I also taught the students that I was in class with, in my Part 107 class with. That’s why I was asked to actually develop curriculum for them.

05:34
DaiJah Metoyer: For the people who are new to drones, what are some essential things they should know before getting started? 
 
05:40 
Ashlee Cooper: So we tend to look at a drone as a vehicle because that's what it is. And you need to know how to safely operate that vehicle. When you purchase the drone, to really make sure that you have educated yourself. For recreational flyers, who are flying for fun, to take the TRUST. For those who are looking to use a drone for commercial purposes, meaning to make money or any type of compensation to get their part 107 certification and look at the manufacturer's publication. I really recommend that for the, not only safety benefit of that, but so you can really get the benefit of all of the features.

06:28
Lucy Jabbour: Do you have a success story from Droneversity? Is there like, you know, like a kid who you were working with that stands out to you and it's just like one of those stories you think about often?

06:37
Ashlee Cooper: Yes. So, there was, this was probably the first drone camp I did and it was for high school students. And he launches the drone, takes off, and we're using the camera. And he looks down and he says, wait, where are we? And I’m like, what do you mean? And he's like, it looks so beautiful. And I'm like, yeah, it does. And I'm like, we haven't left where we were. We're still in the same spot, but he pointed, he said, is that my house? It looks so beautiful over here. And it is the benefit of having a higher perspective, or a wider perspective. So, I'm pretty sure based off of what he shared, he had probably never described his community as beautiful. And I love that about drones.

07:37
DaiJah Metoyer: Is there an overall message you want to get across today to anybody who's listening who's interested in drones. 

07:45
Ashlee Cooper: For people to see drones for so much more. 

07:52
Drone TRUST PSA: Do you want to fly a drone for fun or recreational purposes? Did you know a drone is an aircraft and you are its pilot? With that comes the responsibility to fly safely. The Recreational UAS Safety Test – also known as TRUST – is an easy, online and free test that all recreational drone pilots must take. TRUST explains the rules and safety tips for flying your drone. Passing the TRUST is required by law and you’ll need to provide a TRUST completion certificate if asked by law enforcement or FAA personnel. Check out TRUST and learn how you can take it at faa.gov/UAS and click on recreational flyers. That’s faa.gov/UAS.

08:34
Lucy Jabbour: Thanks for listening! For more information about our guest, check out faa.gov/podcasts. Subscribe, like, follow wherever you get your podcasts. This episode ends Season 6, but we’ll be back to kick-off a new season in the Fall. To be the first to know about new episodes, subscribe to our newsletter at faa.gov/podcasts. Plus, you can follow the FAA on social media. And if you like what you’re hearing this Season, please leave us a review. A big thank you to the FAA podcast team working behind the scenes and thank you for supporting the FAA’s ‘The Air Up There’ podcast!