What are the business opportunities in the STEM Education Sector?
For that question, we turn to Ron Poynter, President of OnPoynt Aerial Solutions, the nation’s leading supplier of Drone Education Kits and training for STEM Education. OnPoynt was established in 2012, following the passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act. In this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Ron talks about OnPoynt Aerial Solutions, the rise of drone technology in STEM Education Programs and the challenge of serving the education market. This is a great example of how one entrepreneur found an opportunity to serve a niche market while doing something really worthwhile.
In This Episode
- About OnPoynt. Ron Poynter, President of OnPoynt Aerial Solutions, introduces us to the nation’s leading supplier of Drone Education Kits and training for STEM Education. In February, 2012, Ron read an article in the New York Times about the FAA Modernization and Reform Act had been signed by the President. Essentially the Act mandated that the FAA integrate unmanned aircraft into the manned airspace. That article got Ron thinking about creating a drone based business. Commercial use of drones was still evolving at the time, but educational use of drones seemed to clearer and offered the least path of resistance for a new business idea, which ultimately led to the formation of OnPoynt Aerial Solutions.
- The Education Market. According to Ron, the major difference between the educational market and commercial market is that drones are typically fully assembled when sold to consumers. For the educational market, drones are sold in kits, giving students an opportunity to learn how drones are built and the aerodynamics behind the technology.
- OnPoynt Products and Service. OnPoynt offers 5-6 drone kits, an underwater drone kit, associated flight controllers and training videos. The kits are used by students of all ages from elementary through college. In recent years, OnPoynt has added racing drones to its products. In 2017, the company participated in the college drone championships at Purdue University.
- Challenges and Successes. Some schools that have an established robotics program may be a little slow to integrate a drone program, but that is normal considering drone use is new. Many schools were waiting for clear direction from the Federal government. OnPoynt has found that the best learning experiences occurred when students were tasked to solve problems, not just to fly the drone. It’s important to stress that drones are tools, not toys, and that real life problem solving requires teamwork.
- Drone Racing As A Learning Experience. Drone racing is growing at all ages. The challenge and competition appeals to many young adults and facilitates the learning experience.
- Drone Safety. All drone kits sold by OnPoynt have geo-fencing technology so limits can be set to contain drone flights to a specific area. This ensures safety for all.
- Drones and STEM Education. Much of the technology that makes drones easy to fly is derived from many technology industries. Some of the drones can be coded, giving students an opportunity to learn and apply computer programming skills. Before educators embark on a drone STEM initiative, Ron encourages educators to learn and understand the rules for flying drones and to understand that they will need replacement parts and that the first line educators should know how to fly drones themselves, so that they can trouble shoot with their students.
- Personal Story. Ron enjoys being able to make a difference with kids and the satisfaction of introducing something new into the classroom. Different students enjoy different aspects of drones. Some like to fly. Others like to build. Still others like the aerodynamics and theory behind drones. In this way, drones STEM programs can touch the interests of many different students with the same technology.
- Future Plans. OnPoynt plans to build off its existing product line by introducing an advance drone with an advance flight controller, modifications to their underwater drone and a new fixed wing drone. OnPoynt also developed a ‘Pizza Drone’ a drone capable of carrying a 8-ince drone to simulate delivery options. OnPoynt will also be working with a local university in the Dallas area to establish a drone racing team.
- Closing. The important thing about integrating drones into a STEM Education Program is that educators have an understanding of what the technology can bring to the classroom. It’s exciting. It’s interesting and it brings a vertical dimension to STEM.
- OnPoynt Aerial Solutions (www.onpoynt.com)