Friday, April 26, 2013

Visit to Wright-Patterson AFB

Before leaving Dayton I had an opportunity to stop in to see both the Air Force History Museum and the Air Force Research Labs (AFRL). While at 711th Human Performance Wing, I received a very interesting briefing on how the Air Force is integrating multiple forms of subject (i.e., operator) sensing (e.g., cardio, ocular, voice stress, and task focus) to assess, measure, and augment interactions on an RPA/UAS control system. While I could not take pictures when on base, I was permitted to take pictures in the museum. The highlights of the museum visit include the Kettering Bug (first military UAV), MQ-9 Reaper, RQ-4 Global Hawk, X-45A, a Ryan Firebee, and a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. Next time I will need to visit the Presidential Aircraft section (ran out of time this trip).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ohio UAS Conference

This week I represented my employer, ERAU-Worldwide, as an Academic Panelist at the 2nd annual Ohio UAS Conference hosted by Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH. The conference provided an opportunity for "key officials and representatives from both government and industry" (Ohio UAS Conference, 2013, para. 2) to meet with members of academia for collaborative discussion of UAS integration, access to the National Airspace System, research opportunities, and stakeholder needs. At the conclusion of the Academic Panel, Mr. Michael Toscano, the President and CEO of AUVSI and an audience member, took the opportunity to address the crowd and stress the importance of what ERAU is doing to support community outreach and education through our recent partnership with the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC). In his impromptu address Mr. Toscano related how he served with important members of Government and industry, including Mr. Jim Williams of the FAA UAS Integration Office, as judges for the RWDC high school competition. He commended the awarding of a $50,000 ERAU scholarship to each member of the winning team along with my and ERAU's involvement in UAS education.

While attending the conference I also had the opportunity to listen to speeches, briefings, and panel discussions from the following stakeholders in the UAS community, including:
-Michael Toscano, CEO and President AUVSI
-Jack Blackhurst, Director of Human Effectiveness Directorate, AFRL
-Maj Gen Edward J. Mechenbier (USAF Ret), SAIC
-Dyke Weatherington, Deputy Director, Unmanned Warfare, USD AT&L/UW
-Steve Pennington, Director of Bases, Ranges, and Airspace, USAF
-Janis Pamiljans, VP for UAS, Northrup Grumman
-Jim McGrew, Business Development, Unmanned Systems, Boeing

Ohio UAS Conference. (2013). About. Retrieved from

Monday, April 22, 2013

Traveling to the Ohio UAS Conference

This morning I'm preparing to depart Washington, DC for the birthplace of aviation, Dayton, Ohio. On Wednesday I will be sitting on an Academic Panel for the Ohio UAS Conference, hosted by Sinclair Community College. The focus of this panel will be to discuss how higher education can best support this growing field, including integration of UAS into the National Airspace System. I'm very excited to convey what contributions Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide is making in terms of education, curriculum, and research. I'm also looking forward to sharing recommendations regarding how academia can provide support and leadership within the domain.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Observations from Real World Design Challenge

Today I had the fortunate opportunity of spending time with student participants of the Real World Design Challenge. Focus for this competition was put on time and cost to determine efficiency, with the students required to identify a viable business case. Throughout the day I observed presentations and met with students and their mentors.

What I was most impressed with was the capability of teams to:
-apply real industry project titles/roles to team members and successfully implement the expectations of these roles
- use industry professionals for their input and guidance
- provide detail definitions of ground support equipment
-use the engineering design process, with defined staging and milestones in their efforts
-perform risk analysis and use the findings in selection and justification of designs
-identify transportation/ logistical considerations for proposed designs
-employ methodical approaches, featuring statistical analysis, during component selection for designs (e.g., application of component driven design, quantitative analysis, and qualitative down select)
-propose innovative flight patterns to perform scanning/detection of an environment of mixed terrain (no trees, small, med, large trees)
-perform visual line of sight (VLOS) calculations using Pythagorean geometry
-provide business case examples (e.g., compared costs to manned and other UAS options, uses, and operational costs)
-use of simulation to test/verify desired aerodynamic considerations for fixed-wing performance

In the future, it would be beneficial for teams to consider:
-logistical support equipment necessary for use of internal combustion propulsion (glow plug, electric start, fuel, maintenance considerations)
-mitigation of adverse effects (e.g., vibration, exhaust, reduce throttle response, additional support requirements)
-use of identical components/designs to support maintenance and commonality of design
-reference construction materials

Seeing What the Next Generation of UAS Developers Have in Store for Us

This morning I'm preparing to visit with some of the most creative minds of the next generation of UAS developers; high school student's whose design entries have earned them a spot at the RealWorld Design Challenge (RWDC) in Washington DC. I'm excited to see what they have in store for us. Considering they have grown up in a world immersed with technology that expouses digital connection, this cadre of learners will be well prepared for the high-paced, collaborative, educational environment at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). Expect more to come, as I report on some of the interesting and innovative entries I see today.