Former NBA star Chris Bosh is adding another title to his impressive resume that includes: two-time NBA champion, 11-time NBA All-Star, Olympic gold medalist, ACC Rookie of the Year, McDonald’s All-American, and Texas Mr. Basketball.
Bosh today has been appointed dean of the Drone Racing League Academy. The DRL Academy was developed in March 2020 as a means to provide schools, organizations, teachers and students with access to STEM curriculum during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Dean Bosh and two-time DRL world champion pilot JET will teach kids about the science behind drone racing through a series of educational content. Students will be able to take their interest one step further by getting hands-on experience via the DRL Simulator, an immersive drone racing game on Xbox and Steam, and by watching DRL’s 2020 season, which begins at 9 p.m. ET on October 21 (NBCSN, Twitter and Facebook Watch).
“I’m a big supporter of STEM and computers; I’ve been into computers since I was a kid,” Bosh told me. “Every time I can help out and do something or hear about cool ideas like this, it’s really exciting for me. I thought this one was fascinating, but more importantly I want to get the message out to the kids that you can aspire to do things you probably never imagined, and if you are into engineering, coding or computers, you might feel you’re alone in your interest, but you’re not. You can connect with different people who have the same likes as you.”
While Bosh donned a “1” on the back of his jersey while helping guide the Miami Heat to consecutive NBA titles in 2012 and 2013 as part of the Big Three with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, his mind has been thinking in 0s and 1s since he was a kid. His mother ran a business called Computer Help before working at Texas InstrumentsTXN, while his father did professional plumbing, engineering and designing for multiple companies.
Having “extremely geeky parents” as he lovingly described them in a 2013 Wired piece led Bosh into the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Bosh learned to code, and in high school joined a computer graphics club called Wizkids, the Association of Minority Engineers, and the National Society of Black Engineers. Bosh continued exploring his engineering interests—and obviously his basketball career—at Georgia Tech for a year, before being selected fourth overall in the 2003 NBA Draft.
“He loves this area; it’s very authentic to him and that’s what we were looking for,” DRL president Rachel Jacobson said. “Even beyond where he was personally interested, he’s a dad of five young kids, so he genuinely believes that kids need access to STEM, and learning about science and technology can open kids’ eyes to so many careers and opportunities in the future.
“As our Academy Dean, Bosh is going to help us inspire that next generation of digital athletes and scientists, and being as iconic as he is, will help shine the spotlight on the amazing curriculum of content we have readily available for schools and organizations.”
Since its founding in 2015, the Drone Racing League has done in-classroom drone building sessions with kids, and panels with DRL pilots and engineers. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020 shuttering schools and organizations, DRL pivoted to a virtual format through the DRL Academy.
The academy offers access to drone flying and building lessons on the DRL SIM, digital STEM panel sessions, and live-streamed celebrity guest lectures featuring champion and all-star DRL pilots.
“COVID I think is definitely going to speed this digital age up,” said Bosh, who averaged 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in 13 seasons with the Toronto Raptors and Heat from 2003-16. “Most importantly a lot of people are struggling and they don’t know what to do. You need an outlet and you might feel there’s nowhere to go. Something like this can allow you to dive into another world. You can find things you can relate to. People are really going to get more creative and hopefully this will inspire a lot of people who in normal situations or the old normal world wouldn’t even be doing things like this.”
Bosh, who is the self-proclaimed principal at home helping his five kids with distance learning, has the DRL SIM on Xbox. Jacobson hinted that NBA, NFL, PGA Tour and NASCAR athletes are itching to challenge Dean Bosh to one-on-one competitions.
For Jacobson, who was named DRL president in April, the DRL Academy with an assist from Dean Bosh will hopefully educate and inspire the next generation, while creating a pathway for them to excel in the world of STEM, no matter the industry.
“With DRL Academy, we can leverage the thrill of the sport to get kids excited about all types of careers in tech, drone design, and piloting, and this can lead to careers in cinema, delivery and transportation, space and more,” Jacobson said. “Not everything has to lead to working at DRL headquarters or building and flying drones. We feel like a rising tide raises all boats, and this is an opportunity to lend a hand in investing in the next generation.”