Drone soccer gives students glimpse into aviation, aeronautic industries

POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) – During the North Country Collaborative Conference Thursday at SUNY Potsdam, teachers from across the region were introduced to a sport of the future.

Drone soccer is the name of the game for students at Madrid-Waddington Central School. It’s the first engineering program that is being taught in the school’s history.

“The advantage is multi-fold. First of all, it’s giving our students a glimpse into some aviation and aeronautics careers out there. We know that drones are the future, we know that there is a pilot shortage currently going on, so this is hopefully giving students some insight into the aviation and aeronautic industry,” said Michelle Burke, technology coordinator, Madrid-Waddington Central School.

The drones are about the size of a soccer ball, hence the name drone soccer. While it is a small vehicle, it packs a punch when in flight.

Games are done in three three-minute sets, and the goal is to fly the drone through the hoop while the other team defends it.

Each student builds his or her own drone and is certified before flying indoors.

Burke’s daughter, Caeleigh, a senior, plans on going to engineering school. She says she was skeptical about her mom’s pitch for the program.

“When she first said that, she was, like, oh, we’re, like, starting an engineering program, and I’m, like, Oh, my God. Great. When she said it’s drone soccer, my first reaction was, like, I have no idea what that is. It sounds kind of weird, but it ended up being really fun,” she said.

Organizers of the program hope more schools in the area can start their own drone soccer teams so it can become a regional sport.