As summer approaches, for many young people in and around Atlanta, that means camp.
For those interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), a local camp — now in its second year — is teaching youths ages 13-17 how to fly, drones that is.
The second annual VekterCamp! A Drone Camp, run by Vekter Management LLC, is back for another two sessions to offer training on piloting an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) — including using drones to do aerial photography, surveillance and mapping.
Vekter Management LLC was founded as a startup in 2017 with a mission to bring UAV education and career training to Atlanta and beyond. Founders Jae S. Brown and Anthony Davis also wanted to offer that training to kids looking to plant the seeds for a career that may have been out of reach or, at least, out of mind.
“This camp does a couple of things. It teaches STEM in a fun way because flying drones is a lot like playing video games, and it teaches kids about what is a $5 billion business that will be a $500 billion business industry in the near future,” said Brown, who attended high school in the Atlanta area. “Quite often, in black and brown communities, new technology is not introduced until it’s too late.”
“When it comes to our communities, we don’t always have the means, and that’s what we’re here to provide,” said Davis, who has a background in public health. “When we you use the word ‘underserved’ it doesn’t mean you lack the ability, just the opportunity.”
The camps will consist of 30 hours of training over the course of five days. The first session will take place at D.A.T.E. Academy in Stone Mountain from June 17 to 21, and the second session will take place in Lithia Springs at the city’s Mercer University campus from July 15 to 19.
The camp costs $300 per student, which includes a camp T-shirt and a chance to pick up some specialized knowledge.
“For the kids that are on fire about this, the opportunity to fly a professional-grade drone, get up to an hour and a half of flight training from professional drone pilots, receive [FAA] test prep and entrepreneurial training is going to be great,” Brown said. “That’s the goal.”
Organizations like Community Action N.O.W., STEAM Revolution and The Achievement Institute have all partnered with Vekter Management for the camps.
Brown and Davis, who held the first camp in Atlanta proper last year, are fine with branching out to points farther north and east but still want to keep things local in the near future.
“I feel like we are Atlanta’s drone camp. [Atlanta] is where our community is the strongest and where we can be able to affect the most people,” Davis said. “We can consider ourselves Atlanta-based without being in the city.”
The two would like to expand even more.
“Our goal is to get in recreation centers, not only for summer camps but for breaks during the school year, like Christmas and spring break,” Brown said.
Vekter Management is also preparing to host classes for adults. There will be beginner’s drone operation courses ($45 for an hour and a half or $99 for three classes) being held at the company’s Atlanta office at 505 Pryor St. in the Mechanicsville neighborhood beginning in early July.
A $1,500 professional certification course is also available beginning next month.
“We want to be able to expand this to the masses,” Davis said. “This is a good way for kids to build a future resume for college and for a career, and also for adults to begin a new career or a side hustle.”