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 Central New York’s drone community promoting STEM education and safety awareness via interactive demonstrations, networking, clinics, introductory flying sessions, build & fly workshops, mentoring, team competitions, tech-meets, races, and a drone enthusiast information hub.  

Established January 2016




CNY Drones fills a gap in Central New York’s drone tech education & employment pipeline!   






Key offerings include:

  • Live interactive demonstrations and information at community events on behalf of our sponsors
  • Indoor workshops & events that grows recreational drone ownership by providing multi-function beginner equipment and knowledge from fellow enthusiasts
  • Drone races that include STEM-based interactive demonstration areas for spectators
  • An annual indoor Team Drone Challenge to support school efforts to develop student interest in drone technology
  • Mentoring & camaraderie – we connect the Central New York drone community through our information hub & regular events!
  • Our workshops typically have low participant to mentor ratios.  3 to 1, 2 to 1 and many times 1 to 1.    Our mentors are dedicated local drone enthusiasts and industry professionals who fly all the time, know the equipment, and have experience sharing their knowledge.   
  • Our mentorship doesn’t end with one program!   Our mentors share a wealth of information beyond our programs via our website and online folders created for attendees.

For 2018, workshops will target the following:

  • drone-curious individual – those not necessarily ready to purchase a drone
  • drone owners of a specific class of drone or those utilizing a similar drone feature
  • teachers interested in bringing drones into the classroom


We’ve met with the area’s drone authorities – agencies, officials, educators, manufacturers, 107 certified pilots, clubs and enthusiasts to help organize the growth of STEM-based competitions, host a local social media information hub and share opportunities in our region.   

CNY Drones leads the way by hosting a year-round support system with area mentors and events to help drive STEM interest in an area that directly supplies a growing higher education and employment pipeline.  

AMA UMASC at SUNY Polytechnic Institute 

We were happy to help their RC student club get involved with the Academy of Model Aeronautics.  Our new friends promote flight safety, introduce younger students to the college campus and future education options, and gain experience giving back by helping the local drone community.

How We Work

We are STEM advocates.  Our Planning Committee  meets weekly either in person or via Google Hangout.  The Committee steers promotion and event planning.   Interactive demonstrations and events are scheduled for our supporters, not-for-profit entities and community benefit. Programs further our Drones in STEM promotional objectives, help produce a safe flying community and inspire new volunteers and mentors.

How We Started

CNY Drones is housed fiscally under the Griffiss Institute‘s 501(c)3 as CNY Drones @ RoboSpartans Robotics.   RoboSpartans Robotics had an incredibly successful 8 year run as a founding team of local FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League programs and as 3X World Championship multi-award Finalists.  After an initial meeting with drone enthusiasts, educators, government officials and drone technology company representatives in January 2016, CNY Drones was founded to continue STEM promotion through emphasis on robotic flight activities.  CNY Drones is growing a MultiGP Chapter (currently provisional) and an Academy of Model Aeronautics Model Aviation Student Club.  We also partner with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute AMA University Model Aviation Student Club.  All events are STEM/STEAM centered.

Want to learn more?  Contact us! 

Lisa Marie Payne, Administrator