UAS Tech Forum 2017 Speakers
Wichita State University, National Institute for Aviation Research
Tom Aldag serves as director of research and development for the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University. Tom oversees R&D programs, identifies opportunities for new programs and develops growth strategies. Aldag has 25 years of airframe structural design experience including 13 years focused on composite designs. Before joining NIAR in 2007, he worked for Cessna Aircraft Company for 16 years, where he was involved with the FAA certification of three new aircraft models and worked on numerous other models with Cessna’s advanced design team. Aldag also spent eight years at Beech Aircraft in engineering working extensively on design, structural certification, and manufacturing of composite structures. Aldag graduated from Wichita State University in 1983 with a Bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering. He is a commercial pilot and flight instructor.
Director of Aviation
Kansas Department of Transportation
Merrill Eisenhower Atwater, a Kansas native, graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy. He received his Bachelor of Science in History at Missouri Western State University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Baker University. From his prior professional experiences as a government relations specialist for Vehicle-Infrastructure Integration (VII) and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) America at Econolite, president of New Business Development at Fox Energy Corporation, and National Director at Housby Inc.; Merrill, has spoken nationally and internationally over transportation and energy. Currently, he works as the Director of Aviation for the State of Kansas Department of Transportation. Overseeing a system of 137 airports and an aviation industry cluster which represents an economic impact of 20.6 billion dollars for the state;
Merrill currently is a member of the Executive staff of the Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Freight Advisory Committee, and Technology Committee. He currently sits on several boards including: The Transportation Research Board committee on Airfield and Airspace Capacity and Delay, TRB subcommittee on UAS, AASHTO’s Aviation Committee, the NASAO’s Airspace Committee, NASAO’s Committee on UAS. In 2016, Merrill was appointed to Kansas State Polytechnic Dean’s Advisory Council and in July 2017 he was appointed to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.
U.S. Small Business Administration
Wayne Bell became the District Director for the Wichita Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) October 27, 2008.
His professional background includes extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, combined with a thorough understanding of the small business environment in Kansas.
Prior to SBA, Mr. Bell served as Administrative Officer for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the US Department of Homeland Security at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. With TSA he managed human resources, customer service; stakeholder relations, purchasing, and IT contract services for Kansas.
Before federal employment, Mr. Bell held leadership positions at Raytheon Aircraft Company, Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, and with private manufacturing firms in Hutchinson, Kansas. He also gained experience in small business as a partner in a Wichita-based service firm.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Bell attended Wichita State University (WSU) and earned both an Executive MBA and Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology. While an undergraduate, he participated in “Shocker Athletics” as a member of the WSU football team.
His community service includes work with Consumer Credit Counseling Services, United Way of the Plains, and Real Men Real Heroes.
Mr. Bell lives in Wichita with his wife, Jocelyn and family, they attend Saint Mark United Methodist Church.
President & CEO
Wichita Technology Ventures
Trish Brasted, an entrepreneur, and active angel investor currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Wichita Technology Corporation (WTC), is the Managing Member of Wichita Technology Ventures, (WTV), an early-stage technology fund and the Managing Member of the Midwest Venture Alliance, a Kansas based angel group all of which serve high-growth entrepreneurs in the region.
Ms. Brasted has a long history in finance and entrepreneurship and understands the risks entrepreneurs’ face, the courage it takes to start a new venture and the process of growing a successful organization. This passion for young businesses, growth opportunities and helping entrepreneurs succeed has paved the way for many years of success in early stage ventures and investment management.
Under the leadership of Ms. Brasted, the WTC team has provided hands on business building assistance to several hundred entrepreneurs, invested seed capital dollars in more than 75 technology companies, representing over a 100 patented technologies in diverse technology areas such as advanced materials, manufacturing technology, biotech, broadband and telecommunications, proprietary engineering services, medical devices, information technology, and software solutions.
Ms. Brasted earned her bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University, and her MBA from Baker University. She is a frequent speaker on accessing venture capital and angel investing and serves on the boards of several private technology companies.
Director of UAS
Kansas Department of Transportation
Bob Brock, a Kansas native, is an alumnus of Pittsburg State University and Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Development from Webster University. Prior to joining KDOT, Bob served as Senior Business Developer for Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories following a 22-year career in the Air Force. As a military officer his background includes a wide variety of supervisory roles, highlights of which include: Officer-In-Charge of Aircraft Maintenance, Chief of Flight Safety, Helicopter Instructor Pilot, Combat Flight Lead/MH-53 Helicopters, Director of Operations, and culminating as the Flying Squadron Commander for 3rd Special Operations Squadron. An instrument-rated commercial fixed-wing and helicopter instructor pilot, he now serves as the Director of UAS and Deputy Director of Aviation for Kansas Department of Transportation.
Alvin A Brunner III
Aviation Safety Inspector, Unmanned Aircraft Systems & All Weather Ops
Federal Aviation Administration
Alvin Brunner is an Aviation Safety Inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Flight Standards Division, Southwest Region, Fort Worth TX. His Inspector duties primarily focus on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) integration into the National Airspace System. This includes a variety of duties ranging from policy formation, risk mitigation for Certificates of Authorization, to public relations.
Inspector Brunner has a degree from Texas A&M University in Aerospace Engineering and a Master of Aeronautical Sciences from Embry-Riddle University. He is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel having served 26 years as a pilot and engineer. He joined the FAA in 2010 as one of the initial cadre of regional UAS Inspectors.
UAS Executive Director
Kansas State University, Polytechnic Campus
After serving 25 years with the United States Air Force, retired Colonel Kurt J. Carraway is K-State
Polytechnic’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Executive Director. In this capacity Carraway
provides strategic leadership in advancing Kansas State University’s UAS program goals. He directs
the execution of research activities involving UAS through the Applied Aviation Research Center
(AARC). Carraway also directs flight operations development and maturation of the UAS training program through direct supervision of the Flight Operations staff. He manages highly skilled UAS
professionals that perform hundreds of UAS flights per year in civil airspace. He sets policies
and procedures for unmanned flight operations.
He serves as Principal Investigator (PI) on UAS activities through the AARC and is the University
PI representative to ASSURE, the FAA’s UAS Center of Excellence. In that role he also serves
as the UAS training focal point lead. Carraway is a Professor, an instructor and mentor to students.
Before arriving at K-State Salina, Carraway was stationed at Camp Smith in Oahu, Hawaii where he served first as Joint Operations Director and then Division Chief of Current Operations, both for the U.S. Pacific Command. Carraway worked with the Global Hawk UAS, as an evaluator and instructor pilot,
and later became commander of the Global Hawk squadron. Carraway established standard operating procedures and composed technical manuals for the military’s use of the Global Hawk.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Carraway received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, prior to entering the Air Force. During his service, Carraway also completed a Master of Science in Systems Engineering at the Air Force Institute
of Technology on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is married to the former Pamela Savage and has two daughters, ages 17 and 13.
Wichita State University
Animesh Chakravarthy is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Departments of Aerospace Engineering and Electrical Engineering at Wichita State University. He obtained his Ph.D. in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2007, with specialization in Estimation and Control. During 2007–2010, he was a Research Scientist at the University of Florida Research and Engineering Education Facility. He has been a faculty at Wichita State University since 2011. His current research interests include dynamics and control of morphing vehicles, path planning in dynamic environments, PDE-based modeling and control of multi-agent systems and study of insect flight dynamics. His research has been funded by NSF, NASA, FAA, and the US Air Force. He is a recipient of an NSF CAREER award in 2014.
CEO and co-founder
JD Claridge is the CEO and co-founder of xCraft, a leading drone company developing innovative vehicles for the UAV market. JD was born with a passion for flight. Building and crashing flying toys throughout his youth taught him much about the science and art of flight vehicle design. He once built a (mostly) functional hang glider at the age of 7 and convinced his best friend to test fly it.
Secretary of Science and Technology
State of Oklahoma
Dr. Kelvin K. Droegemeier is Vice President for Research, Regents’ Professor of Meteorology, Weathernews Chair Emeritus, and Teigen Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma. He earned a B.S. with Special Distinction in Meteorology in 1980 from the University of Oklahoma, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science in 1982 and 1985, respectively, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He co-founded and directed the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center (STC) for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS), and co-founded the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). From 1999-2001, he wrote a daily weather science column for the Daily Oklahoman newspaper, which is Oklahoma's largest.
Dr. Droegemeier was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the US Senate for a six-year term on the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation that also provides science policy guidance to the Congress and President. Dr. Droegemeier was re-nominated by President Obama and again confirmed by the Senate, serving a second six-year term on the National Science Board, the last four years as Vice-Chairman. He has testified before Congress on seven occasions.
Dr. Droegemeier served as Chair of the Association of Public and Land Grant University’s (APLU) Council on Research Policy and Graduate Education (CRPGE), now the Council on Research. He is a Trustee and Chair-Elect of the Board of Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. He also served a member of the Board of Directors of Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Foundation, and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR). Dr. Droegemeier currently is a member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America and serves on the Council on Competitiveness Technology Leadership and Strategy Initiative (TLSI).
Dr. Droegemeier is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was was appointed in 2017 by Governor Mary Fallin as Oklahoma’s fourth Secretary of Science and Technology. In his more than 30 years at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Droegemeier has generated over $40 million in external research funding, authoring or co-authoring more than 80 refereed journal articles and over 200 conference publications.
President & CEO
Matt Dunlevy is the CEO, president, and founder of SkySkopes, a highly professional drone flight operator focused on bringing innovative solutions to the energy industry headquartered in Grand Forks, ND. Under Dunlevy’s leadership, the business grew from a group of four employees to more than 20 in less than three years. SkySkopes is the latest in a series of several successful technology startups he has founded. Dunlevy studied mechanical engineering and history at the University of North Dakota. During that time, he became interested in entrepreneurship and founded several startups before ultimately combining a lifelong passion for aviation with his drive for business to form SkySkopes. Over the years Dunlevy has hundreds of flights on powered aircraft, gliders, and unmanned aircraft.
M.S., Electrical Engineering, Wichita State University
M.B.A., Wichita State University
B.S., Electrical Engineering, Wichita State University
Specializing in: PLM Curriculum Design and Research.
President & CEO
Vigilant Aerospace Systems, Inc
Kraettli L. Epperson is CEO and co-founder of Vigilant Aerospace Systems, Inc. He has a 20-year career as a technology company executive and founder, advisor and investor. Mr. Epperson focuses on identifying and developing disruptive technology companies that have a positive, world-changing impact and that facilitate greater openness and access to information and opportunity. Previously, he was a software developer and software architect and has deep expertise in software project management, data systems design and management and geospatial systems. He has founded, co-founded or advised 25 technology companies including as co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Questia Media which raised $160 MM in venture capital to build the world’s largest online academic digital library for high school and college students. The company was acquired by Gale Publishing in 2010. He was also the co-founder, inventor, patent holder and chairman of HyperAlert, a leading voice response and crisis communications system serving 5 of the top 20 transit agencies in the US. He is also the co-founder and chairman of R7 Solutions, which currently provides the software, systems and data to manage all land and right-of-way data for Houston METRO’s $1Bn regional commuter rail expansion. He created and served as an adjunct professor for Rice University’s first undergraduate course in entrepreneurship and in 2013 he co-founded and managed a venture accelerator that in 24 months launched 11 startups, 5 of which acquired funding on multi-million dollar valuations.
Congressman (U.S. Representative)
Congress/House of Representatives
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and serves Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to becoming an elected official, Estes worked in consulting and management roles in several different industries including aerospace, energy and manufacturing. An engineer by trade, he successfully implemented a variety of systems that streamlined operations, increased efficiency and improved customer relations – all while cutting cost. Estes served as Sedgwick County (Kansas) Treasurer and then Kansas State Treasurer before being elected to Congress on April 11, 2017.
Ron and his wife, Susan, have three children and reside in Wichita.
Associate Professor and Director of the Flight Research Laboratory
University of Kansas
Structural vibrations of high performance structures
Aircraft structural acoustics
Interior noise reduction
Structural Vibrations and Acoustics
B.S. 1972 U.S.A.F. Academy
M.S. 1978 Ohio State University
Ph.D. 1983 Ohio State University
Current Research Projects
Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, NSF Science & Technology Center grant--Co-PI, Avionics Team Lead
Cure Management for Composite Bonded Repair, NASA EPSCoR, Co-PI
Multichannel Sense-and-Avoid Radar for Small UAVs, NASA LEARN grant, Co-PI
Recent Research Projects
Damping Estimation in Aircraft Structures, Spirit AeroSystems grant-PI
Great Plains Acoustic Test Facility, Transportation Research Institute seed grant-PI
Saxon Remote Systems
John Ferguson specialized in Remote System Technology for over 25 years. A former US Marine, Commercial Drive and Submersible Vehicle Pilot, Mr Ferguson decided to spearhead UAS Teachnology into the Midwest and around the world. Authro of the Kansas IAS training manual currently being taught at Central Christian College.
Surface Mount Depot
Zack Keas is the Sales Manager at SMD, one of the leading electronics contract manufacturers in the United States. SMD provides a number of contract manufacturing services including printed circuit board assembly, electromechanical assembly, cable and wire harness assembly and more. SMD’s niche is contract manufacturing for customers who build high-reliability electronic products that require the highest quality.
Mr. Keas joined SMD in 2002 with day-to-day responsibilities include finding new business, working with established clients, meeting with customers, highlighting SMD’s capabilities and providing prospective customers with quotes.
Zack is married with two children and in his free time is an avid runner that participates in marathons.
Jason W. Klenklen
Supervisor, Transmission Maintenance
Jason Klenklen is the Supervisor for Transmission Maintenance at Westar Energy. He has over a decade of service in the utility industry with a background in aviation. His team is responsible for overseeing activities involving various transmission line (69kV and above) inspections, asset replacements, disaster recovery and maintenance throughout the Westar Energy territory. He has served as a manager for Westar Energy’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Program while continuing to implement and enhance the risk-based maintenance strategy for transmission lines.
Herman "Woody" Loepp ESQ
Assistant Vice President/Senior Claims Attorney
Global Aerospace, Inc.
Herman joined Global Aerospace as a Claims Representative in the Kansas City Pleasure and Business Operation in September, 2006. Mr. Loepp has prior aviation insurance experience during his employment with Associated Aviation Underwriters from 1988-2005. Prior to joining Global Aerospace, Herman was in-house counsel for Missouri Gas Energy. He received his law degree from Washburn University and is admitted in Kansas, the Western District of Missouri Federal Court, and the United States Supreme Court. He holds a Part 107 Remote Pilot certificate. Herman also owns and operates a Piper 250 Comanche and is an instrument rated private pilot with approximately 2100hours total time.
Brian McCornack PhD
Kansas State University
Dr. Brian McCornack has an integrated research program that facilitates the discovery and application of tangible solutions to emerging pest issues. He has co-developed a wide range of pest management tools for use on large commercial farms, including widely adopted economic injury levels and thresholds for invasive species, binomial sequential sampling plans for grain sorghum pests, and improved best management practices for economically important pests. More recently, he has been integrating the use of small unmanned aircrafts (sUAS) for early pest detection and monitoring to better inform pest management decisions on the farm.
HiddenGenius.com allows anyone to create technology competitions that improve the world. What new technology would make your life better? Help someone else? Change the world? HiddenGenius combines crowdfunding, collective intelligence, and technology competitions. Now anyone can spark a challenge on the HG website for a technology they would like to see developed. Members of the HG community then help shape the goals and rules of the competition and sponsor a prize purse. Competitors from around the world then race to develop the technology and win. The media reports on the competition. HiddenGenius brings visibility to people with real technology needs and visibility to the competitors who can address these challenges. Some HiddenGenius out there may have the answer to a challenge they don’t yet know exists!
Executive Vice President of Economic Development
Greater Wichita Partnership
As executive vice president of economic development, Andrew develops, leads and facilitates business retention and recruitment initiatives; oversees the Blueprint for Regional economic growth (BREG) initiative and markets the community to existing and prospective businesses.
Prior to joining the Partnership, Andrew served as the executive director of the Shawnee Economic Development Council where he supported companies and area entrepreneurs in the creation of jobs and capital investments. Before that, Andrew served as business recruitment and retention manager for the Overland Park Economic Development Council which saw him implement a systematic business retention and expansion program for more than 350 local companies utilizing a team of volunteers.
In addition to local businesses and volunteer leadership, Andrew has worked closely with area commercial brokers, national and international site selectors and the Kansas Department of Commerce
President and CEO
Flint Hills Solutions
Roger Powers is the Founder, President & CEO of Powers & Zahr and Flint Hills Solutions. Flint Hills Solutions is an Unmanned Aerial Systems solution provider focused on next generation systems and subsystems Research and Development (R&D). Powers & Zahr is focused on R&D and consulting services related to UAS, Sensors, Electronics and Communications with emphasis on the Public Sector, Defense and Commercial markets.
Prior to founding Flint Hills Solutions and Powers & Zahr, Mr. Powers was a senior executive at several high technology startup companies focused on sensors, advanced payloads, miniaturization electronics technology and thermal management solutions. Mr. Powers has also held senior executive positions at IBM and The Boeing Company. Throughout his distinguished career, Mr. Powers has served as Program Executive, Senior Engineering Director and Executive Business Development Manager on numerous product development programs of extreme complexity with some projects having a value of over $1B. Assignments included U.S. DoD, European (NATO), and Commercial Aircraft programs with locations at Wichita Kansas, Seattle Washington and Denver Colorado.
Mr. Powers is also a Veteran of the United State Air Force and the Kansas National Guard having served with distinction.
Mr. Powers is a graduate of the Defense Systems Management College (1994). He also holds a Master of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Wichita State University (1990) and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Kansas State University (1982).
Marty W Rogers
Mr. Marty W. Rogers is the ASSURE Director. Marty leads a team of the best aerospace universities in the nation, each supporting the needs of the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence.
Mr. Rogers is a U.S. Air Force veteran, spending the majority of his career with the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), supporting contingency operations in remote and bare base locations. He completed his USAF career at HQ Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base. Mr. Rogers joined Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), a nonprofit applied research and development company. During his decade of service with CTC he led the unmanned systems portfolio for operations at Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane. Additionally, Mr. Rogers served as the vice president of international operations, leading support for operations in Singapore and Canada.
Mr. Rogers joined the University of Alaska Fairbanks as director of the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI) in 2013, and lead the growth of the program to the largest university based UAS program in North America. UAF's ACUASI program operates over 150 flying days per year, much of which is in austere and remote areas, including many operations above the Arctic Circle. Continuing to support UAF as business director, Mr. Rogers joined Mississippi State University in June 2016 as executive director of the ASSURE program.
Kurt P. Rouser Lt Col (Ret), USAF
Oklahoma State University
Dr. Kurt Rouser is Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Oklahoma State University. He graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1995 (BS in Aeronautical Engineering), from Oklahoma State University in 1999 (MS in Aeronautical Engineering), and from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 2002 (MS in Aeronautical Engineering) and in 2012 (PhD in Mechanical Engineering). His 21-year Air Force career included assignments as an aerospace propulsion intelligence analyst, turbine engine maintenance engineer, KC-135 maintenance engineer and jet engine test squadron operations officer. During his 8 years on the Air Force Academy faculty, he taught thermodynamics and aircraft engine design, conducted jet engine research and served his final 2 years as Deputy Associate Dean for Educational Innovation. His accolades include Air Force Director of Propulsion Engineer of the Year, Outstanding Academy Educator and recipient of the Academy Frank J. Seiler Award for Faculty Research Excellence. After retiring as an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel in 2016, he started his current faculty position, teaching and researching aerospace propulsion and power.
Tech entrepreneur with several exits $50M+. BS Comp Eng Univ or PR, MSCS and MBA IIT. Software, telecom and data analytics experience.
Grand Forks Police
Chief Operations Officer
John Stevens is Chief Operations Officer for SOAR Oregon. SOAR supports the UAS industry in Oregon and provides a leadership role for the three FAA-designated unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test ranges in Oregon which are based at Tillamook, Warm Springs and Pendleton. John was previously the Range Manager for the Pendleton UAS Range, and prior to that served as Senior Director of Program Operations of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Test Center at New Mexico State University.
He was founder and principal of the Sandia Performance Group in Albuquerque, providing strategic, technical, and program management solutions to aerospace. He has also served in leadership roles in FAA Type Certification projects for light jet and piston manned aircraft.
John is a retired U. S. Marine Corps Major who served as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and Material Support Specialist at all levels of Naval Aviation maintenance, including squadron-level maintenance management of CH-53 helicopters, and as the Maintenance Officer for Marine Aircraft Group 31, a group of seven F/A-18 Hornet squadrons. John also served on the F/A-18 Program at the Naval Air Systems Command.
John holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado.
Nikhil earned his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and an M.S. in Engineering Management from Johns Hopkins University. He worked at Accenture in the Federal Services division, and spent five years at MIT researching thermal control for space suits. Nikhil previously led a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project to use of drones for emergency medical supply delivery in developing countries.
Zongbo Wang Ph.D.
Co-founder and CEO
Dr. Zongbo Wang has over fifteen years of experience in sensor and electronics development. He honed his expertise by leading numerous large scale UAV-borne and air-borne research projects at universities and research institutes in the United States, China, Singapore, the Netherlands and Spain. He has more than 40 scientific publications and patents in the areas of radar system, signal processing, remote sensing, embedded system and flight control system design. He received his B.S and Ph.D. in Electronic Engineering from the Beijing Institute of Technology in 2004 and 2009, respectively. He has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Dronecode since 2017.
Dr. Wang founded Aerotenna in 2015, with the vision to define the future of flying through creating innovative sensing and processing systems. Aerotenna has been well recognized as the leading innovators in developing the first commercially available collision-avoidance radar, radar altimeters and FPGA-based flight controllers for UAS. Aerotenna won first prize at the UTM Drone Sense & Avoid competition in 2016.