Girls don’t play with drones, right? I mean, the saying goes, “boys and their toys” not “girls and their… toys”. It doesn’t rhyme. How can something be true if it doesn’t rhyme! What rhymes with girls? Curls, twirls, pearls… schmerls? All girly things. I never realized rhyme schemes could be so sexist. Shame on you, Dr. Suess.
The fact of the matter is, girls do play with drones, but it’s easy to see how one could make the assumption that they don’t. Take a look at the IDRA top 25 racers list. All dudes. The drone videos on YouTube you look at while you’re supposed to be working? Mostly dudes. In much the same way that the world of video games used to be, the drone scene is kind of a sausage party.
Perhaps play isn’t the best word to use here either. Sure, drones are a lot of fun, and for the majority of drone enthusiasts, flying your drone or capturing amazing shots on film is more of a hobby than anything else, but drones also do work. Drones are a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States alone, and you’d be out of your mind if you think girls are going to leave all that opportunity to the boys.
This is where the people at SheDrones.com come in. SheDrones.com is a non-profit group with the admirable goal of engaging, training, educating, supporting, and endorsing girls and youth in the UAS industry. It was founded by Leslie Bates, a mother of two daughters with over 15 years of experience in the energy industry. Leslie saw firsthand how the drone market was taking off (no pun intended) but she was concerned with how few females she saw working with drones. Leslie also happens to be that rare breed of person that sees a problem and actually does something to fix it. Together, along with her friends (more on them below) she founded SheDrones.com to educate girls on the promising and engaging field of drone technology.
Right now SheDrones.com is small, but potent. Along with Bates, the non-profit consists of Anne Lopez, Don E. Yeoman, and Desi Ekstein. Lopez’s contribution to the group is an outstanding STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning curriculum that SheDrones.com has already implemented at the East Side Middle School in Kentucky and the Women in Technology International (WITI) Summit. Lopez’s teaching plan consists of four stages that 1) introduce students to UAVs and UASs, 2) introduce students to the Engineering Design Process or EDP, 3) give students the opportunity to build their own quadcopter, and 4) give students the opportunity to design and 3D print a component for their quadcopter. Sure, it’s been awhile since I was a pimple faced tween in middle school science class, but this program blows the baking soda volcano out of the water.
Don E. Yeoman and Desi Ekstein are the maverick renegades of the group, the “Goose” and “Ice-Man” if you will. They’re in charge of the flight control, sUAS flight operation, and training for SheDrones.com. Learning how to build a drone is all well and good, but if you don’t have somebody teaching you how to fly it, you’re going to be right back at that assembly table before too long.
Business leaders all across the globe are noticing the benefits that drones can provide to their organization, and we’re still in the early stages here. More and more drones are becoming a part of everyday life. In ten or twenty years, drones could become an everyday part of the classroom as well. That’s what is so great about SheDrones.com, they’re pioneering the field of drone education. Sure, they’re focused on girls, but doesn’t that just level out the playing field? Let’s not forget that their main focus is on getting girls interested in drones. There are plenty of outlets doing that exclusively for boys already. My daughter’s a little young for drones. I’d like her to master the toilet before she masters a quadcopter. I don’t know if she’ll be into drones or not. I don’t want to be one of those parents that push their own interests on their children. However, I don’t want her to think that she can’t be into drones because she’s a girl. Especially if that prevents her from taking on a hobby that could one day turn into a lucrative career. After all, somebody has to take care of daddy when he gets old and feeble. I want to be placed in a fancy retirement village, not chained to a tree in the backyard like I’m going to do with my dad.
Happy Father’s Day from SomeDrones.com!