Updated: Dec 21, 2022 @ 11:09 am


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the World;

indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

– Margaret Mead

CNY Drones is a volunteer run, community based organization 
promoting drone-focused STEM.  Our experience includes development of 3 Northeast Team Drone Challenges (2018-2020, introductory flying sessions, interactive exhibits, build workshops, tech meets, mini-challenges & our latest addition, league and technical support for U.S. Drone Soccer.  

Our Mission:

CNY Drones promotes the exploration of New York’s drone education & employment pipeline through programs, mentoring & technical support.   

Our organization exists online with volunteer Planning Committee Members located in the Utica/Rome area of New York State.  We are engineers, educators and enthusiasts with years of STEM experience.  

CNY Drones efforts feed into the drone tech education & employment pipeline.

STEM Focused.  Community Supported.  Volunteer Driven.

“Research suggests that personal interest, experience, and enthusiasm—critical to children’s learning of science at school or other settings—may also be linked to later educational and career choices.” – nextgenscience.org

We’ve reached thousands of students & adults throughout New York State!


Experienced Mentors & Administrators

Dozens of years of combined STEM experience & passionate mentors are behind all our efforts!  We fly for the love of flying & share for the love of sharing technology!  We have various backgrounds with a common enthusiasm for drones & for developing a safe & knowledgeable drone community!

  • Our mentors share beyond any program.
  • We are all recreational drone pilots who fly regularly as members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
  • Most of our Planning Committee Members are 107 Certified Commercial Pilots.
  • Most are also Certified Instructors through U.S. Drone Soccer.

“From a student’s first time using a flight simulator to an adult’s first impression of our forward-thinking drone mentors, we’re spreading a positive message to technology-minded individuals who have the potential to get involved in regional drone tech in the not-so-distant future.”

– Lisa Marie Payne, Administrator & Co-Founder

CNY Drones Planning Committee

We meet weekly to discuss recent connections, issues & future plans.    Committee members work in our community with our sister organization, SUNY Poly AMA.  

  • Air Force Research Lab – Rome NY
  • Black River Systems Co. Inc.
  • Mohawk Valley Community College
  • Quanterion Solutions Incorporated
  • JH Rhodes Co. Inc.
  • RIT
  • SUNY Polytechnic Institute
  • Wolfspeed

Club Partnerships & Mentoring

We work closely with the CGAM / Tech Clubs at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. SUNY Poly AMA, Wildcat Robotics, 3D Printing, Women in Engineering, IEEE, and Baja clubs have all assisted CNY Drones in developing student interest in drone technology.

Fiscal Oversight

CNY Drones exists under our fiscal agent, The Griffiss Institute, a 501c3  organization, whose primary role is to advocate and facilitate the co-operation of private industry, academia, and the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, in developing solutions to critical cyber security problems.  CNY Drones relies on corporate sponsorship, individual donors, grants & volunteers to support the presentation of our programs.   We volunteer on behalf of our sponsors at events, providing demos & presentations.  We appreciate the sponsors who keep us running!

What makes CNY Drones special?

“It’s not one thing. It’s a variety of backgrounds and a variety of approaches – all focused on the same results.  We’re here to promote drones in STEM and grow a safe & connected recreational flying community.  We’re committed to offering low-cost programs that allow access to all.  We understand our part is key to sparking interest in the drone education & employment pipeline.  We see the importance of having accessible mentors who keep up to date on technology improvements & use the technology regularly.  Key to our growth has been the willingness to share far beyond the bounds of any program we offer.  Those who stick with us have access to a great deal of experience and support – and fun!”  

– Robert A. Payne, III, CNY Drones Volunteer Coordinator & Co-Founder

Get to Know Us!

Our Programs   

Our Accomplishments