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Speaker Bios



Speaker Bios


Panos Artemiadis
Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab, Arizona State University

Panagiotis (Panos) Artemiadis received the Diploma and the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece, in 2003 and 2009, respectively. From 2007-2009 he worked as Visiting Researcher in Brown University and the Toyota Technological Institute in Chicago. From 2009 to 2011, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Mechanical Engineering Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Since 2011, he has been with Arizona State University, where he is currently an Associate Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, and the Director of the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Laboratory. His research interests include the areas of robotics, control systems, system identification, brain–machine interfaces and human–swarm interaction. He serves as Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editor in many scientific journals and scientific committees, three of his papers have been nominated or awarded best paper awards, while he has received many awards for his research and teaching. He is the recipient of the 2014 DARPA Young Faculty Award and the 2014 AFOSR Young Investigator Award.


Philip Bates
AZ Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate Coordinator, FBI

Special Agent Phillip Bates is the Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator for the Phoenix Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Division and is assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force. In his role as Coordinator he oversees the planning, preparation, response, investigation, and intelligence gathering against WMD threats in the State of Arizona. SA Bates joined the FBI as a Special Agent in 2008. He has fulfilled multiple Joint Terrorism Task Force assignments to include the Seattle and Phoenix Field Offices. In 2014, SA Bates promoted to Supervisory Special Agent in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD), Investigations and Operations Section. In that role at FBI Headquarters he oversaw WMD investigations in the western United States before returning to Phoenix in early 2016. SA Bates has been in law enforcement for fifteen years beginning in 2002 with the City of Mesa Arizona Police Department. While at Mesa PD, he served as a Patrol Officer, a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), and as a Detective. SA Bates graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. He graduated in 2012 from Norwich University with a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership degree.


John Bradley
Founder, H2O Environmental Inc.

After service in the U. S. Marine Corps John Bradley worked in the excavation industry and attended the University of Nevada Reno. In 1989 started Waters Excavation in Reno NV with George Waters of Waters Vacuum Truck Service. During the 6 years together John saw a need for a full service statewide vacuum truck service and opened H2O Environmental in Las Vegas in 1996. Over the last 18 years H2O Environmental has been developed and designed into a full service environmental company that takes care of our customers unique concerns in our geographic areas.


Paul Brierley
Executive Director, University of Arizona’s Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture

With a background in agriculture, research, leadership and politics, Paul was chosen to serve as the inaugural Executive Director of the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture (YCEDA). This public-private partnership is funded by the AZ/CA production agriculture industry and housed in the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. Its mission is to improve all aspects of desert crop production systems.


Lloyd Brown
Senior Systems Engineer, Arizona State University Research Enterprise









Taylor Butterfield
Chief Operating Officer, Skytap Aero

Taylor Butterfield is a co-founder of SkyTap, Inc., a company that specializes in medium and large-scale, professional UAS flight operations for government and commercial applications.

Taylor has a background in aviation research and training from the University of North Dakota (UND) where he completed a business degree in Aviation Management as well as Commercial Aviation. While teaching students as a Flight Instructor, Taylor was introduced to the fascinating world of UAS as a participant in a research project.

After his introduction to the world of UAS, Taylor pivoted from his intended career as an airline pilot, to pursue a career developing the public and commercial applications for UAS.

Following his time in North Dakota, Taylor had the privilege of flying and managing training programs for large unmanned aircraft with high value payloads in support of Operation Enduring Freedom for the Department of Defense.



Richard Darling
President, Darling Geomatics

Richard D. Darling is the President and a founding principal of Darling Geomatics. He is a Registered Land Surveyor (RLS) in Arizona and also licensed in Nevada and South Dakota. Mr. Darling is an FAA Part 107 licensed UAV pilot and has over 40 years of diversified surveying experience. He performs UAV project flights, 3D laser scanning, ALTAs, property title searches, written legal descriptions, boundary surveys for subdivisions, patented mineral claims and Cadastral Surveys.

He has extensive experience in the following: UAV Surveying and Mapping, 3D Laser Scanning, Aerial Control Surveys, Mineral Claim Staking, Utility Easement Preparation and Acquisition, Flood Plain Studies, Topographic Mapping, and Construction Surveys. Mr. Darling has also performed duties as Chief Surveyor for mining and mineral exploration companies. He has worked in almost all fifty states in the USA as well as Canada, Mexico and Turkey.



Darshan Divakaran
UAS Program Engineer, North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Aviation

Darshan Divakaran is the UAS Program Engineer and GIS Analyst with the Division of Aviation at the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). In this role, he co-leads NCDOT Division of Aviation efforts to work with other state agencies, local government, industry, universities, and community colleges to integrate a statewide UAS program in North Carolina. A key focus of such efforts has been provide state agencies and local governments the appropriate tools to create and manage UAS programs to support their specific operational needs. Prior to joining NCDOT, Mr. Divakaran worked as a Research Associate with the NextGen Air Transportation (NGAT) Consortium and Airport Technical Assistance Program (AirTAP) at the Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) in North Carolina on FAA and NCDOT grant funded projects and NCDOT UAS for Inspections projects.

Mr. Divakaran holds a FAA Remote Pilot certificate and NCDOT UAS Operator permits for both commercial and government operations. He also holds a FAA Commercial Pilot License with Multi Engine rating. Mr. Divakaran has received a MS in Geospatial Information Science and Technology from North Carolina State University and a BS in Professional Aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He is a member of Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)



Enrique Esparza
President, Co-Production International

Enrique Esparza, Jr. serves as the CEO of Co-Production International and as VP of INDEX: Association of Manufacturing and Export Tijuana. Enrique has been in the manufacturing industry for over 25 years with expertise in establishing and administrating new companies in Mexico. Enrique grew up in the manufacturing business supporting his father who was dedicated to managing foreign operations. Beginning his career with Assemble in Mexico in 1988, now Co-Production International, Inc. (CPI).


Aaron Farber
UAV Science Program Manager, Latitude Engineering

Dr. Farber has spent the last four years working on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), focusing on integrating new sensor packages for aerial deployment. His UAV work started in 2014 when he joined Sensintel as one of two Ph.D.’s tasked with restarting the R&D programs. His work there included research on hyperspectral imaging and analysis, optical and infrared imaging evaluation, and other novel payloads. His work with in-situ lab-on-a-chip chemical sensing led to an EPA SBIR, tracking greenhouse gasses from a UAV. As technical lead, he oversaw the deployment of an air-launched UAV into several hurricanes, capturing valuable meteorological data where other sensor payloads are unable to reach. Since joining Latitude Engineering in 2017 as the UAV Science Program Manager, Dr. Farber oversees projects geared towards academic and civil efforts, requiring more customized and novel integration solutions for various research payloads.


Adam Hawkins
President, Global External Relations

Adam Hawkins is a leading authority when it comes to merging government relations, public affairs and community outreach. With a range of first-hand experience related to external relations in the fields of aviation, economic development, rural affairs, environmental, and public lands policy, Adam is your go-to guy for all matters legislative and regulatory. Adam’s expertise is trusted and sought by global firms seeking effective guidance navigating complex regulatory, legislative, public policy and other challenges at all levels of government.


Mignonne Hollis
Executive Director, Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation

Currently the executive director of the Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation, Mignonne graduated from Tombstone Union High School, attended the University of Arizona, and went on to earn her MBA from the University of Phoenix. In her effort to support economic development in Arizona, Mignonne co-writes a weekly newspaper advice column for business owners, serves as the Vice Chair of the Canyon Vista Medical Center board of trustees, is on the public policy committee of the International Economic Development Council and the Treasurer of the Arizona Association for Economic Development. She was also recently appointed to the Arizona Commerce Authority Board. In 2014 She was named economic developer of the year and in 2017 her organization was named small organization of the year. Mignonne is the founder of Aerospace Arizona Association and through this association has formed the UAS Center For Innovation at the Benson Airport. Mignonne is dedicated to making an economic impact not only in rural Arizona, but throughout the entire state.


Devon Humphrey
CEO, Flightline Geographics LLC









Kenneth Kelley
Airworthiness FPM/POC sUAS Educational Outreach Safety Promotion Program Office, U.S. Federal Aviation Administration

Ken Kelley has been with the FAA for 19 years, 15 years have been with the Safety Program/FAA Safety Team and currently with AFS-920 Safety Program Promotion Office in Headquarters. He is the sUAS Educational Outreach Point of Contact for the FAA and works collaboratively with industry.

Ken holds a Part 61 Private Pilot Certificate and flies a Cessna 172/180hp. He also has a Part 107 Certificate and flies a Yuneec Typhoon Q500.



Ted Maxwell
Commander, Arizona National Guard; President, Southern Arizona Leadership Council

Ted Maxwell brings a wealth of broad-based experience from his distinguished military career covering more than 29 years of service to our nation. Graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 1984, he quickly established himself as a leader capable of motivating and managing a large diverse workforce. Ted brings extensive experience working with Congress and with foreign dignitaries. He represented the United States as the sole United States Air Force Exchange Officer for integration with the Belgian Air Force, a bilingual position. Working at Headquarters Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, Ted managed the growth of a multi-billion dollar program interfacing directly with U.S. and international chief executive officers, as well as a full range of military and Department of Defense leaders.


Frank Nichols
CEO/President, Silicon Forest Electronics

Frank Nichols started Silicon Forest Electronics in 1999. As Founder, CEO, and President, he has grown SFE to over 96 employees. He has created a “Human Management” style that focuses on making a positive and profound impact to all employees, customers, communities, and shareholders through the implementation of “Listen. Connect. Improve.”

As President/CEO, he is currently focusing the company’s efforts to move from a national presence to a global presence in manufacturing of mission critical electronic assemblies.



Sarah Nilsson
Pilot and Attorney, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Sarah Nilsson has both an aviation and a legal background. She began her career as a pilot in 1994. She holds an ATP in multi and single engine fixed-wing airplanes, a gold seal CFI, CFII, MEI, and a small UAS pilot certificate.

In 2014, Sarah began her legal career, becoming founder and managing attorney of Nilsson Law, PLLC. Since 2015, she has been full-time faculty at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Prescott, Arizona, teaching Aviation Law, Global UAS Regulations, Global UAS Risk Management, UAS Ground School, Business Law, and Business Ethics. Sarah volunteers as a FAA Safety Team Representative.



John Nunes
Founder/CEO, TR-IAG SYSTEMS

John Nunes is a FAA licensed fixed-wing pilot (AMEL) and remote pilot. With his first flight lesson in 1975 and his first remote controlled airplane flight in 1977, John has logged over 1000 hours in oft complex, high-performance and multi-engine aircraft. Additionally, he has over 750 hours in various UASs and obtained one of the first Section 333 exemptions. In early 2016 the FAA designated John Nunes a “FAA Specialist” as he continues to very actively use his section 333 and/or Part 107 to shoot or assist in events throughout California and Arizona. In so doing, John has intimate contact with ATC, FSDO, Homeland Security, DoD, State and local public safety agencies as appropriate.

As a UAS ground and flight instructor, John coordinates pilot training programs and successfully trains first responders to integrate UAS in various public safety operations. Topics have covered UAS applications for HAZMAT response, tactical operations, fire response, arson investigation, accident investigation to nighttime operations. The Mesa Fire department have called on John and continue to use his expertise for training and critical search and rescue missions.

John is a UAS IPTM instructor, Tempe Aviation Commissioner and holds a BS in Electrical Engineering.



Kevin O'Shea
Vice President of International Trade, Arizona Commerce Authority

Mr. O’Shea directs, delivers and executes export programs at the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA). In this context, he works closely with Arizona companies on various export initiatives in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In addition to providing technical assistance to Arizona companies, he has responsibility for ACA’s State Trade Expansion Program (AZSTEP) and ACA’s ExporTech program. He also manages the ACA trade office in Mexico City. Mr. O’Shea holds a law degree (J.D.) from the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley, as well as an undergraduate degree (A.B.) in Cultural Anthropology from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.


Jennah Perry
Assistant Professor of Air Traffic Management, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Jennah Perry is the Program Chair and Assistant Professor of Air Traffic Management at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, AZ. Jennah holds an undergraduate degree in Air Traffic Management and a Graduate degree in Aeronautical Science with an emphases in Human Factors in Aviation systems, and Education technology. She is an instrument rated pilot with a broad spectrum of knowledge of the National Airspace System and has been teaching at Embry-Riddle for five years. Prior to teaching Jennah had eight years of operational experience working in Air Traffic Control as a Flight Service Specialist. The primary focus of her research over the past few years includes simulation, education, unmanned aircraft, air traffic control and training, and unmanned traffic management.


David Stine
Airspace Manager, Arizona Air National Guard

Lt Colonel D.R. “Franken” Stine leads the daily scheduling and long-term sustainability of the 162nd Wing’s nearly 12,000 annual sorties and 19 million acres of Special Activity Airspace. He manages a $122 million US and foreign military sales flying hour program in the USAF’s largest international training wing. He also supervises and instructs in all aspects of air combat and surface attack employment in the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Lt Colonel Stine earned his private pilot rating before graduating high school. After graduating the USAF Academy in 1983, he has continued serving in the military to the present day: half in the active duty Air Force and half in the Air National Guard. With over 4,700 military flying hours in the F-4, AT-38, and F-16, he has also flown glider, Cessna, Beechcraft, Boeing 727, 737, and Airbus A-319, A-320 aircraft.



Joe Talley
Consultant, TAC-Consulting

Joe Talley is a US Army special operations combat veteran with the personal goal to save lives. Since he began launching UAVs from the back of a pick-up by driving very quickly across a very small combat outpost, Joe has become a strong advocate of getting UAVs into the hands of operators, law enforcement, security and first responders. Joe works with security and first responders across the US to seek out lessons learned and best practices in UAS employment and regularly communicates with the FAA, FEMA, LA Fire and many other agencies regarding UAS tactics, policies and procedures, and counter-UAS strategies. Joe first conducted search and rescue operations as part of a special operations unit, and later served with a FEMA US&R team, leading his team underground for the first time at the World Trade Center after 9/11. After weeks of recovery operations, Joe was compelled to serve again, returning numerous times to Iraq and Afghanistan, with over four years total time on the ground. He has also served on close protection details overseas for the US government. An avid writer, Joe has contributed articles on a variety of safety and security topics to numerous print and online platforms, including Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, ABC News, and major tactical, military and security journals.


Christopher Toale
Community Initiatives Team, U.S. Air Force

Christopher P. Toale is assigned to the Community Initiatives Team (CIT) where he is the manager of the Air Installation Compatible Use Zone. He is responsible for fostering relations with community elected officials and civic leaders to ensure encroachment issues do not affect flying mission accomplishments. As a part of the Luke Community Initiatives Encroachment Management Team, he ensures flight sustainability of America’s premier fighter aircraft through managed growth surrounding Luke Air Force Base. As part of Air Education and Training Command, Luke AFB is home of the 56 Fighter Wing, the United States Air Force’s largest fighter wing. Luke AFB CIT maintains responsibility to protect terminal airspace in the Phoenix West Valley as part of the National Airspace System. This airspace encompasses 8,000 cubic miles surrounding Luke AFB, including 20 private airstrips and 7 public airfields.


Michael Vargas
State Director, Office of U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation

Michael Vargas oversees Senator Jeff Flake’s Phoenix and Tucson offices and leads the senator’s outreach efforts to constituents and stakeholder groups across the entire state.

Vargas most recently served as Manager of State Government Affairs for Arizona Public Service (APS), Arizona’s largest investor-owned electric utility. His primary responsibilities included managing the company’s state government affairs strategy and stakeholder relationships. He has worked extensively on public affairs issues on behalf the company throughout Arizona for the past five years.

Vargas is a veteran of both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army National Guard, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Vargas received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Arizona State University.



Thomas West
CEO, HFE International

Thomas West is the CEO for HFE International, a small high-tech company addressing the growing demand for reliable small UAV engines. Mr. West is the founder and lead mechanical engineer for the design and development of fuel injection systems and integration on small aircraft and ground support equipment.




John Wolcott
CEO, Industrial Aerobotics








Brian Wynne
President, Association of Unmanned Vehicles Systems International

Brian Wynne is president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics. AUVSI represents more than 7,000 members from more than 60 countries involved in the fields of government, industry and academia. AUVSI members work in the defense, civil and commercial markets.


Dennis Zaklan
UAS Organization Consultant, New Mexico State University UAS Test Site

Dennis Zaklan retired as the Manager of the New Mexico State' FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site and UAS Flight Operations Team in April 2017. The principle elements in establishing NMSU as one of the nations’ leaders in UAS RTD&E. He established and the NMSU UAS Flight Operations Team and Flight Test Center in 2007.

Mr. Zaklan’s NMSU UAS Team had significant impact of moving the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System through, research, UAS concept of operations development and validation, and as a subject matter expert for the FAA, manufacturers, operators, and other interested parties. Because of his extensive knowledge and experience, his has provided consulting to several state and commercial entities regarding a path forward for UAS integration.

Mr. Zaklan is now working as a part-time UAS/Drone consultant flowing his distinguished careers since in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Cryptologist and UAS Test Site Manger. He has a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management/Project Management.



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