The DroneBlocks Team
Marisa Vickery is a veteran educator, Drone Edu aficionado, and STEM & STEAM advocate. She was honored as the TCEA 2017 High Impact Teacher of the Year and has presented at SXSWedu, ISTE, Austin Mini-Maker Faire, World Maker Faire in New York, Kamehameha School’s "Disrupt", Texas Region 8, and TCEA conferences. Marisa was invited to the United States Patent and Trademark Office Teacher Institute of 2015, and was named the Texas Trailblazer of the Year in 2015 by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. She serves as a Champion Board Member for the Texas Girls Collaborative Project, and her current projects include DroneBlocks and the Mast STEM Academy in Shanghai and Shenzhen, China.
Marisa currently serves as the Facilitator of Learning & Innovation (FLI) at Walnut Springs Elementary School in Dripping Springs ISD and runs the Center for Learning & Innovation (CL&I). Throughout the last 5 years she has transformed the traditional Campus Library into a collaborative Library, MakerSpace, Production Studio, and hundreds of learning tools, including 3D printers and robotics. Marisa has brought introductory coding to her campus through Code.org and DroneBlocks, along with the Design Thinking Process. She provides technology training at the campus and district levels to students and colleagues. She works as a part of her campus admin team, serves as a District Visionary Leader, is a member of her District’s Instructional Leader team, and supports all teachers on her campus through coaching, co-teaching and grant-writing.
Marisa Vickery is a strong supporter of STEM/STEAM education for all learners. She has supported programs across the world to promote Drone Education, including volunteering at the 2017 Scout Jamboree STEMQuest Program in West Virginia and the Army STEMfest in Texas.
Dennis has been fascinated with remote control cars and airplanes since he was a kid. Through his passion of the RC hobby he learned many aspects of engineering by building, wiring, and programming flight controllers for his RC planes and quadcopters. He shares a majority of his research and development on his YouTube channel.
In 2010 Dennis found the ArduPilot project and was amazed by the vibrant developer community behind the project. From this point forward he spent countless hours tinkering in the garage and building numerous autonomous drones ranging from hexacopters, VTOL aircraft, delta wings, and mini quads. This was all made possible with APM and Pixhawk flight controllers.
In 2014 Dennis designed and 3D printed a popular mini quadcopter frame and posted it on Thingiverse. At this time he crossed paths with Marisa at Walnut Springs Elementary School in Dripping Springs, TX. Dennis asked Marisa if he could work with her after-school "Tech Team" to teach students how to print, wire, build and fly these little mini quadcopters. Students loved the idea but quickly asked how they could use the drones to shoot photos and video. This led Dennis to the DJI SDK.
In 2015 Dennis put together a proof of concept of using block programming and coupled it with the DJI SDK to tap into the capabilities of market leading drone hardware. From this day DroneBlocks was born. Students loved the concept of block programming to perform autonomous missions with DJI hardware. DroneBlocks has grown into a platform that consists of app, curriculum, and a vibrant community of users sharing their mission code all over the world.
Dennis graduated from The Citadel with a BS in Electrical Engineering and is no stranger to software technology. He has co-founded several technology businesses over the past 20 years. In this next chapter Dennis and Marisa want to expand DroneBlocks into every STEAM classroom across the globe.