NYPA Press Release

NYPA Press Release

Students From North Country Schools Compete in Drone Soccer Event, Learn About Technology and Aviation Careers

For Immediate Release: 5/31/23         

Contact: Lynne Smith: lynne.smith@nypa.gov



New York Power Authority Initiated Tournament as Part of STEM Career Readiness Programming

See Photos Here

Students from North Country school districts faced off yesterday against New York Power Authority (NYPA) unmanned aircraft system pilots in a drone soccer tournament complete with broadcasters and live scoring—showing how they can have fun while polishing their new aeronautical skills. The event is part of a NYPA program to introduce students to emerging utility technologies and prepare them for the workforce.

“Technology and career exposure play a crucial role in empowering high school students and preparing them for future success,” said Kaela Mainsah, NYPA vice president of Environmental Justice. “Connecting underserved communities with tools like drones and 3-D printers help develop students’ digital literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, helping equip students for the workforce.”  

The event was held yesterday at Madrid-Waddington High School to celebrate the school’s Region II championship title and 6th place ranking at the U.S. Drone Soccer National Championship on April 16. The Power Authority also showcased its support for the program and brought in several NYPA’s unmanned aircraft vehicle pilots to teach them tips and tricks to fly drones and participate in a scrimmage with the North Country players.


Students from Madrid-Waddington presented on the game of drone soccer and discussed how their team built, coded and repaired their own drones. Students learned about aviation and aeronautics as they used science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to improve their drones. Drones and robotics are emerging technologies with a variety of uses across the power industry such as inspecting right of ways and dams.

More than 40 students came from all across the North Country, from the St. Regis Mohawk Nation, Bombay, Gouverneur, Canton, Brasher, Bangor, Westville, Madrid, Waddington and Fort Covington, to participate in the drone matches, learn about drone technology, and talk to real drone pilots who turned their passions into careers.

“Madrid-Waddington was excited for its students to have the opportunity to meet and work with the NYPA team of pilots to gain insight into the drone industry,” said Michelle Burke, instructional technology specialist and the school’s drone soccer coach. “The support NYPA has provided Madrid-Waddington's staff and students has been incredible and we are very appreciative of this relationship.”


NYPA’s Environmental Justice team connected Madrid-Waddington and Salmon River Central Schools with equipment including Tello drones and 3-D printers to support the expansion of drone education. Next year, Madrid-Waddington plans to offer its high school students a course about Federal Aviation Administration’s small UAS (Part 107) regulations

“Salmon River Central School District has had the pleasure of working with NYPA to support and enhance the drone soccer program,” said Brandi Harris, staff development coordinator for Salmon River schools.  “This STEM course and sport have a direct link to 21st century skills students need to be successful in the future work force. NYPA's partnership has been integral in bringing possible career opportunities available to our students.”

Drone soccer is an indoor sport that allows students to learn about drones while participating in a fun sporting competition. They remotely pilot lighted colorful drones the size of a soccer ball inside a netted “field.” Games are played in three-minute sets, with players trying to fly their drone through a hoop.


CNY Drones, a volunteer-run, community-based organization promoting drone-focused STEM and workforce development, provided support to the program.


"We are pleased to have Madrid-Waddington lead by example as 2023's highest ranked U.S. Drone Soccer team in New York State,” said Lisa Marie Payne, administrator of CNY Drones, “Madrid is growing the sport within their school as well as supporting the growth of other teams in NY Region II.  They've been incredibly generous in lending a hand with the recent National Championship and in helping neighboring school districts during the onboarding process.”

NYPA’s Environmental Justice program is driven by a commitment to be a good neighbor to the historically underserved and marginalized communities located near its statewide facilities and assets. Supplemental energy-related and age-appropriate STEM programs are provided to students in Grades 3-12 to promote curiosity, increase students’ confidence and help to enhance educational equity.


About the New York Power Authority
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is the largest state public power organization in the nation, operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 80 percent of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower. NYPA finances its operations with revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity and by the sale of bonds. For more information visit www.nypa.gov and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and LinkedIn.