#Tech4Vets: CALSO — Bringing Drones and Good to Veterans

In the Bay Area, Microsoft is excited to partner with CALSO, an organization that uplifts underemployed communities through skills training. CALSO identifies major roadblocks that disadvantaged people face on their path to success and works to empower these individuals to overcome these hurdles and reach their full potential.

With veterans especially, CALSO trains these individuals to use the military skills they already have and apply them to employable skills. Some of these skills — basic comms, piloting, and data analysis in particular — are effective in an interesting facet of technology: drone piloting. CALSO has identified this position as a unique angle to approach veteran job training, and is working to train their veteran population to be commercial drone pilots.

CALSO’s clients under their Drones & Good program vary, but the job remains the same: drone pilots fly the drones and take photographs that are processed to photographic software, to then generate 3D or 2D maps that is used for the client’s operation.

“The interesting part is that after only a few weeks of training, our operators are ready to go on mission for clients,” explains Sarah Burgaud, Chief Operating Officer at CALSO. “A lot of our veterans had no experience when they came. They didn’t know about the drone industry, but they were kind of aware of the potential of this industry. And after only a few weeks of training, they are able to actually get paid and provide drone services for those big companies.”

This project caught the eye of local Microsoft employees who were able to bring CALSO to Microsoft for its annual Hack for Good in-office hackathon. CALSO was looking for a way to match its veteran trainees with actual on-the-ground work, and our team helped form a database to do that quickly.

Through a Sharepoint partnership and an Office 365 nonprofit subscription, CALSO has been able to completely transform its job database.

”For CALSO, transforming the way they include veterans — finding them a job — was all a manual process,” Nidhish Dhru, a Technology Strategist at Microsoft who was on the Hack for Good team for CALSO, tells us. “What we did with Hack for Good was help them advance that process. We made it completely automated, using Sharepoint and Office.”

Now, CALSO has a full database of commercial drone pilot jobs local to the Bay Area. This database can spot where a veteran lives and find the nearest drone pickup spot where they can work a new job. We’re also excited to announce a paired donation of Surface devices that CALSO can use for its organization.

We’re looking forward to CALSO’s future successes, especially as its veteran Drones & Good program expands into Europe.

Learn more about CALSO and its Drones & Good program at www.calso.co.

Learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to veterans at Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA).