by Ben Golf
As a sophomore at Heritage High School I, Ben Goff, first encountered the Kashmir World Foundation in January of 2015. My dad and I went to an interesting meeting for the “DaVinci Challenge: Build a Drone Workshop” I had no idea that meeting would change my whole future. My father and I registered for the 4 day hands-on DaVinci Challenge workshop, and we loved it! One of the coolest things about the DaVinci drones is that it can fly all by itself, you tell it to go somewhere, it goes there on its own using GPS. Not just that, but there’s a really good feeling you get when a project like that is completed.
On February 8, 2015 was our first flight day. It was amazing, a fantastic presentation, and a lot of people flying their drones! Unfortunately, the two of us couldn’t get off the ground, our hexacopter would flip over every time we hit the throttle. That wasn’t a repellant though, rather a challenge. After the workshop, my dad and I worked even hard to troubleshoot and get the drone off the ground. When we finally got it working, seeing the drone take off and hover successfully for the first time was one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had.
After we finished our workshop, we decided to come back to help others during future workshops, and flight days. Taking the workshop and mentoring it are two completely different things. It’s like watching a movie for the second time, you see stuff that you didn’t notice before, and it changes your whole perspective on the build. I kept coming to workshops and Drone Coders Meetings, sometimes on my own, but I was there pretty consistently. My dad and I both went to every flight day we could, we loved showing off our drones and other projects, we even built a rover using the same technology our drones used.
In the summer of 2016, I decided it was time to get a job. I looked all over for something interesting to me, and I had no luck. Then I realized that the KwF has an internship program. I signed up immediately, and I don’t regret it one second. The project they were working on when I first joined was called MiSHELL, we’re designing a drone to help biologists study sea turtles and their nests. Working with the KwF on the MiSHELL project has done nothing but leave a great feeling with me, I’m helping protect and study an endangered species! It’s a gratifying experience, but along with being more involved with the KwF (including help teaching actual teachers how to build the drones), I had to start thinking about my future.
I’d been looking at schools for a while now, and one really caught my eye: Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk. I had originally wanted to work in computer science and game design, but after joining the KwF, I realized that I really wanted to keep doing what I was doing, working on drones for the betterment of our planet and society. I learned that ODU has been researching drones and their uses, and I was convinced. I applied in November 2016, and was accepted into the school in December, on the mechanical engineering track, hopefully leading to an Aerospace focus. I’ve decided that I will try as hard as I can to stay with the KwF for as long as I can during college, and I’m looking forward to where the future will take me.