Monday, November 3, 2014

ERAU-W 2nd SUAS Competition and Demonstration

This weekend, I had an opportunity to assist with ERAU-Worldwide's second Small UAS Challenge held at the Wings Over Houston airshow at Ellington Field, TX (the first was held recently at the Reno Air Races in September). What a great experience this proved to be! I met many aviation enthusiasts, including the younger generation of remote control model aircraft pilots. 

Using hardware purchased by ERAU (Syma 5Xc and Helimax quadcopters), donated materials, and participation of local operators, we were able to engage and introduce the public to this technology, our education programs, and possible career opportunities. We invited people to try their hand at flying RC aircraft using donated copies of Real Flight 7 RC Flight Simulator (several copies donated by the awesome folks at Hobbico/Great Planes). Some were even able to progress to flying the affordable, yet very capable demonstration quadrotors we brought in our custom enclosure (structure was approved by the FAA for on site, exterior flight operations). Throughout the weekend, we provided flight demonstrations to exhibit the capabilities of these systems (had a few minor crashes without mishap even though steady winds were 10-15 knots, gusting up to 20 knots). 

One of our event participants, Droneworks, provided amazing demonstrations showcasing first person view [FPV] operations (output of video feed displayed on a large monitor for public viewing) and flight capabilities of their large octocopter, which they use for professional aerial photography and filming. Another of our competitors demonstrated the stability of the DJI Phantom 2 platform, despite the fairly high winds.  I look forward to more such opportunities to provide public outreach and education regarding the safe, efficient, and effective use of unmanned aircraft technology for both recreation and purposed application. Credit for the success of this event is due to the combined efforts of David Thirtyacre, Jeff Jorgensen, Dr. Timothy Holt, and Scott Burgess, who worked tirelessly to setup and run this competition and demonstration.

Check out some more pictures from this event below.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

ERAU sUAS Challenge II-Wings Over Houston

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is holding a second sUAS Challenge, this time at the Wings Over Houston air show (November 1-2) at Ellington Field, Houston, TX. If you are a R/C quad/multirotor pilot that would like to compete or if you have an interest in this growing field, come on out!
Two major issues surrounding the use of sUAS in national airspace system (NAS) are safety and liability.  To mitigate these concerns (i.e., Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations governing the use of UAS are in the development phase), an outdoor facility enclosed with safety netting will be used.  The netted arena will be considered a “structure” by the FAA and all sUAS flights will be limited to, and strictly controlled inside this area.  Additionally, participants are required to sign an acknowledgement of liability.  The race course will be challenging so damage to a participant’s sUAS is possible.
The Challenge is open to any private, academic or commercial participant (one vehicle per entity) with a maximum field of 20 entries or to be determined by the event staff. The sUAS must be able to take off and land vertically (VTOL); be less than approximately 36 inches in major axis and less than 18 inches in elevation; and weigh less than 10 pounds.  The sUAS will be required to use an electric propulsion, actuation, and power system controlled by remote transmission adhering to FCC regulations in the unlicensed bands (other bands may be used as long as the operator holds at least a Technician Class Amateur Radio license and produce documentation that they are approved to transmit in a given band and power level). To manage control reliability, a spectrum analyzer will be employed to ensure deconfliction.
The Challenge will be composed of three separate events that will result in both overall and individual event champions.  The events will be (subject to change):
​- Obstacle Course (emphasizing agility and maneuverability, time measured)
​- Dead Lift (lifting ability, weight measured both maximum and specific weight)
​- Time Trial (speed over a closed course, time measured)
Initial inspection of each sUAS will occur prior to the competition each morning to ensure compliance with size and modification rules.  A full list of rules will be available upon request.  The Challenge will take place over two days beginning with a mandatory operators meeting at 9:00 a.m. followed by the competition.  The course will be open for practice on Friday prior to the competition. There is no charge for entry in the ERAU sUAS Challenge. This event is being organized by David Thirtyacre, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics (

I will also be in attendance to talk about our UAS related educational programs and give folks an opportunity to fly simulated aeromodels using Real Flight 7 (recently donated by the great folks over at Hobbico/Great Planes) and a couple actual micro quadcopters. To read more about this event, which first ran at the Reno Air Races visit:

Friday, September 26, 2014

An Unexpected Honor

I like to think that I am fairly well attuned to my work environment and able to provide proactive response through preparedness and situational awareness. However, this week I was caught completely off guard. While attending the 2014 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Conference, I was bestowed with the 2013-2014 Faculty Member of the Year award. Considering that I joined the ranks of academia just two short years ago (temporal disassociation, i.e. ability to sense passage of time, does actually occur when one is engaged in enjoyable activity; Agarwal and Karahanna, 2000), this was not an event I had registered as even a remote possibility. 

As this occasion was such an inconceivable surprise, I could not effectively articulate what this truly means to me. I was caught up in the exciting, terrifying, and emotional moment. So now that I have had time to reflect, I would like to put down in words what was swirling through my mind, but was unable to express.

In 2012, my first week as an Assistant Professor was spent at this very same conference meeting all of my new colleagues, while looking ahead down the challenging road before me. During this initiation into ERAU-Worldwide faculty, the gentleman who would later become my Dean gave me invaluable advice and mentorship. Dr. Ken Witcher introduced me to the ever expanding world in which I now find myself. He challenged me to set and strive to meet high goals, while focusing on those critical components of higher education; teaching, research, service, collaboration, communication, and quality. At this first conference, he won this very same award, setting a high standard and expectation.

These last two years, I have taken his and other colleagues advice to heart. We do not do what we do for accolades, acclaim, and awards. We do this for our students. We do this for our comrades. We do this out of love of the work, for the pursuit of ideals, the quest for greater knowledge, and the opportunity to share what we have learned and experienced. This distinction does not belong to me, it belongs to all those I have had the pleasure to work, argue, debate, endeavor, and collaborate with. It belongs to our students, staff, and leadership who all play such an important part of our University. It belongs to my family, my wife, daughter, and son who support me as I explore this amazing and surprising world and try to leave it better than I found it. I thank you all for the support, guidance, and fellowship these last two years and promise to continue to strive together to meet ever greater expectations on this exciting and promising road before us.

Most sincerely,

Brent Andrew Terwilliger, Ph.D.

Agarwal, R., & Karahanna, E. (2000). Time flies when you're having fun: Cognitive absorption and beliefs about information technology usage. MIS Quarterly, 24(4), 665-694. Retrieved from

UPDATE (7 Oct 2014)- The video from this event is available at (look for me around the 0:29:30 mark):

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Latest Issue of ERAU's Lift Focused on UAS

Check out the latest issue of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's alumni magazine, the Lift, focused on the present and future of UAS. I had a great experience being interviewed by Sara Withrow, the Editor for Lift and one of the authors of the cover story "All around us: Unmanned aircraft systems are the next aviation evolution." This article features commentary from many UAS experts across ERAU (Worldwide, Daytona Beach, and Prescott campuses).

This edition also includes a mention of our new Master of Science in Unmanned Systems (MSUS) degree by ERAU president, Dr. John P. Johnson (inside cover), and a writeup (p. 3) by Molly Justice, the director of communications for ERAU-Worldwide.

You can find this edition of the Lift magazine at:

If you would like to learn more about the new ERAU-Worldwide MSUS degree, please visit:

Friday, April 18, 2014

ERAU-Worldwide UAS Professional Development Course-San Diego

I will be heading out west to San Diego, CA to teach the second offering of the ERAU-Worldwide UAS Professional Development course. There are still several spots available, so signup while there is still time ($550 per person, includes lunch, 1.6 CEUs). To learn more about this course, please visit:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Degree at ERAU-Worldwide: The Master of Science in Unmanned Systems

I'm pleased to announce the availability of a new unmanned systems degree at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide, the Master of Science in Unmanned Systems, starting this Fall (2014). This exciting new program represents the first graduate degree with an emphasis on examining the application, policy-making, and management of unmanned systems (air, space, ground, and maritime), associated technology, processes, and methods. The degree will be available in all of ERAU-Worldwide's instructional modalities (e.g., classroom, online, EagleVision, and blended). The following program descriptions contains the details of the new 36 credit program, which will feature flexible course options to support the unique goals and needs of each  student.

The Master of Science in Unmanned Systems (MSUS) degree program will provide students with an education focused on gaining and applying knowledge necessary for success within the unmanned systems industry. The educational focus is anticipated to support the growth, innovative development, and effective use of unmanned system technology across the respective domains to address major challenges within the industry, which include interoperability, autonomy, airspace integration, communications, education and training, propulsion and power, teaming, and regulation. Professionals with the ability to identify trends, analyze requirements, develop strategies, recommend solutions, recognize opportunities for innovation, and clearly communicate from a rich knowledge and experience base will be valuable contributors, essential to the success of the developing industry in the global market. Students will be provided an opportunity to select combinations of advisor approved courses individually or from specified concentrations, including unmanned aerospace systems (UAS), aeronautics and design, human factors, space systems, safety/emergency response, operations, education, aviation/aerospace management, and aviation/aerospace research. The selection of topical relevant electives is anticipated to provide the flexibility to tailor the education to the requirements and goals of each student, while retaining continuity with the overall goal of the degree to address the growing and dynamic needs of the industry. The MSUS will provide an interactive learning environment to acquire and apply knowledge, work in independent and team settings, communicate across a geographically and experientially diverse population, and assume leadership roles, which represent the fundamental skills necessary to establish or advance a successful career in today’s competitive and collaborative working environment.

I have been serving as the Program Chair of this new degree since December, when I transitioned from my role as Associate Chair of the Master of Aeronautical Science degree and began the research, development, and proposal efforts in support of the degree. Please feel free to contact me with any questions relating to this new degree and check back for updates.

6 May 2014 Update: The webpage for the MSUS degree is now available:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

ERAU-Worldwide Launching UAS Professional Development Course in Feb 2014

I'm pleased to announce that Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU)-Worldwide will be debuting a two-day unmanned aircraft system (UAS) professional development course (UAS Applications, Operations, and Support: Key Topics of Industry) Thursday to Friday, 27-28th of February, 2014 at the Las Vegas, NV campus. 
DESCRIPTION: This two-day, continuing education unit (CEU) course was created specifically for professionals and specialists seeking to expand their understanding of the application, operation, and support of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), specifically in regards to the considerations, regulations, policies, business opportunities, and challenges of the industry. This course is developed and taught by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide faculty with UAS operations and research experience

This course represents a comprehensive overview of the capabilities, requirements, and business opportunities associated with the UAS industry. It covers the background and impact of UAS, composition and categories of designs, the legislative and regulatory framework, concerns and considerations, applications, operational profiles, business opportunities, and the future of UAS. The course participants will learn to apply the vernacular, fundamental concepts, and principles associated with UAS technology, in addition to exploring the key technologies and markets, in preparation to meet the growing needs and challenges of this developing industry.

-Business Developers
         -Executive Leadership
-Small Business Owner/Entrepreneur
-Engineers (including aerospace, communications, electrical, GNC, hardware, logistics, software, systems, quality assurance, and test)
-UAS Operators, Pilots, Sensor Operators
-Analysts (system, data management, manufacturing, operations, procurement, research, quality)
-Managers (account, contracts, program, project, operations)Training Developers/Coordinators Administrators (government, contracts, IT, property)
-Planners (mission, facilities, schedule, strategic)
-Technicians (avionics, electronics, manufacturing, RF)
-Writers (technical, grant, proposal)

-Introduction and Impact of UAS
-UAS Designs
-Legislation, Certification, and Regulation
-Industry Concerns
-Operational Profiles
-Business Opportunities
-Future of UAS

By participating in this course you will:

-Gain an understanding of the UAS industry impact

-Explore the composition of typical UAS designs and categories

-Review the legislative and regulatory framework for the operation and application of UAS

-Identify and discuss challenges within the industry

-Examine types of applications, typical operational profiles, and opportunities to provide benefits

-Distinguish among the key technologies associated with the growth of the UAS industry and possible business opportunities

-Recognize the potential of the industry in terms of economic impact, growth, and technology development

This course was designed and developed by myself and ERAU-Worldwide Adjunct Professor, Teena Deering. It features presentation, discussion, and interactive team activities concentrated on essential topics of UAS, the related technology, application of concepts, and the overall industry. Do not miss this exciting learning opportunity to better understand the needs, challenges, and possibilities of this growing market and technology.