Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.
Title at Volansi: Flight Test Engineer
Joined the team: 2019
Employee: No. 37
Hometown: Tempe, AZ
Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?
Ever since middle school/high school I’ve been drawn to autonomous robots and had an interest in putting parts together and watching them come to life. It really sparked when I became the lead programmer for my high school’s FTC Robotics team, competing all over Arizona and California. I began learning about UAVs in my senior year of high school as my science fair project was about implementing UAVs to help monitor wildfires in Northern Arizona, which lead me onto a path into the UAV program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Prescott, AZ). I graduate from Embry-Riddle with a BS in Unmanned Aircraft Systems – Technical Operations and a Minor in Cyber Intelligence and Security. During my time at college, I worked at an auction house and was a gymnastics coach along with other various jobs to help make ends meet. Shortly after graduation, I landed a Flight Operator position at Volansi with my best friend from college where we hope to continue our adventures together throughout our careers in the aviation industry.
In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?
As a Flight Test Engineer, I work closely with the software/integration team, improving aircraft functionality and also work with the aerodynamics team by testing aircraft performance. I am responsible for preparing aircraft for specific flight testing campaigns, then going out to the flight field to conduct tests and finally analyzing the initial results. The best part about my position is that it is very agile and hands-on. I get to collaborate in most of the projects while always being challenged to think outside of the box and finding creative solutions to meet the final objective(s).
What has been your favorite project so far at Volansi?
I’ve been and continue to be part of great adventures and projects here at Volansi ranging from demos all over the United States to Africa and research and development flight testing campaigns from the C10 to the M20 along with other demonstration aircraft. My favorite project hands-down would have to be the demos in the Bahamas. Not only did I get to go to the Bahamas for the first time, but it was on my third day here at Volansi. Nothing may ever beat getting to go to a beautiful island on your first week at work.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
You can find me mostly outside alongside my girlfriend and doggo hiking new trails or driving down random roads exploring new places, people and cultures. Other fun activities include shooting indoor/outdoor competitive archery, building and flying first-person view (FPV), motorcycle rides, binge watching TV shows and setting off the fire alarm cooking dinner.
Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?
Before joining Volansi, I would have said Abraham Karem, the “founding father of UAV technology.” However, after being hired, I would have to say Brian Porter, Volansi Senior Integration Engineer. Not only is he a World Champion hang-gliding pilot, but a never-ending storyteller and world–traveler with a wealth of knowledge, sometimes stubborn, but always willing to listen, cat with nine lives, experience–building, opportunity–seeking, life–tested, overall wholesome human being. He is such an inspiration to look up to and learn from, what does not only apply in the aviation world, but also in how we live our lives.
We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?
I am most excited about actually getting to see our autonomous UAVs working in harmony with each other and manned aviation to help out the population for the greater good. Applications from assisting first responders or military personnel in ISR missions to delivering lifesaving packages to those in need.