BUSINESS

UM engineering student gets drone club and business off the ground and flying

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Submitted photo.

What’s that up in the sky? It’s a drone and the dreams of a University of Mississippi student who has started his own Oxford-based drone company and drone club.

Taylor Brame, 22, has launched the UM GoKaze Drone Club and GoKaze, a company that sets up drone races.

“I was always interested in technology and knew from a young age that drones were going to be huge,” said Brame, who began by building his first drone at 18. Since then, he’s been obsessed with flying them.

Brame earned a degree in engineering from UM and said he plans to use it to “progress drone technology to a point that is in science fiction movies.”

“This sounds like a lofty goal, but if you look a past technology, it always gets better than people expect,” he said.

Brame said he was asked to found the drone club at UM. “Ole Miss noticed that I had a major interest in drones and was licensed to fly, and they came to me to start it personally,” said Brame, who enlisted 10 people to help him. He said the main goal of the drone club is to attract more interest from Oxford citizens.

“There are going to be fewer and fewer jobs in the future,” Brame said, “and drone flying just might be one of the most popular professions around, because everyone will have a drone.

“People are getting degrees for their future, but they don’t realize that automation is going to take so many jobs in the future. People need to start realizing that they have to provide their own job in the future because of the transition to the gig economy.”

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The drone club. Submitted photo.

Brame predicts people will eventually do most of their work online. “The drone industry will be one of the biggest in the world in only a couple of years, in my opinion, and people might as well start learning now so they are not blindsided in the future,” he said.

Drones are also the future of sports and gaming, Brame said.

“No longer are we locked on our computer screens for intensive gaming,” the GoKaze website reads. “We are locked into the world around us. Drone Racing takes the video game into the real world, where users with antennas bulging from their FPV (First-person view) goggles view and control their quadcopters as they scream through the environment. This is not the sport of 2022 I am talking about. This is the sport of now.”

Brame met GoKaze co-founder Sumontro Sinha, an aerospace engineering graduate from the University of Miami. Within a minute of meeting each other, they began talking about drones.

They later participated in a business start-up weekend hosted by the school’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. They pitched their business idea, entered the CIE’s Gillespie Business Plan Competition and were awarded grants to literally get GoKaze off the ground.

Brame is using the money to progress the company and purchase drone equipment. He uses his own funds for the drone club and has purchased several drones that anybody is allowed to fly.

According to the GoKaze website, the company is described as “the NASCAR of drone racing.” It takes people from their first training flight into championship drone races.

“From the university classroom to the boardroom, we work to make drone racing accessible for everyone, from engineers to young learners,” the website reads. “Our workshops provide hands-on experience, building drones from the ground up. We strive to create the next generation of drone racers through our hands-on learning methodologies.”

The GoKaze team has backgrounds in aerospace and drone design, according to the website. They conduct Unmanned Aircraft Systems workshops, hold licensing opportunities, develop UAS aircraft, and help firms looking to use UAS to enhance their business.

Despite the popularity of drones, Brame said UM has a new policy that says people cannot fly drones on campus because the university is too close to the airport.

“This is rather ridiculous because the airport is over five miles away from the school,” Brame said.

Diego Mac, Brame’s friend and a member of the drone club, is also a drone hobbyist. “I just got licensed to fly, so I am on my way to be at Taylor’s status,” said Mac, who also opposes the policy.

“Many students consider this unfair, because we want the ability to film this beautiful campus with drones,” Mac said, “but now we can’t.”

Despite campus drone regulations, Brame said he’s excited about the future of drones, his company and the drone club.

“I am glad to be one of the first people on campus so excited about the new drone industry,” he said, “and I hope to be progressing it along for many years to come. I hope that GoKaze will inspire people from all over the country to start flying drones and really get the trend of drone racing into the mainstream culture.”

He said those interested should attend a drone club meeting and “like” the club’s Facebook page.

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