• Brass-Tacks
  • UAS Summit Q&A with BBI International VP, John Nelson

    UAS Summit Q&A with BBI International VP, John Nelson

    North Dakota is seen as an obvious leader in the UAS world. The state hosts one of seven Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS test sites, which researches and tests how to integrate UAS in the airspace. The Northern Plains UAS Test Site attracts businesses  In May 2019, our state invested $28M in funding for a statewide network supporting drone flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). This investment builds on previous UAS advancements and further positions our state to be an expert to watch. It's important for UAS developers and leaders to engage with each other and other users and policy developers from around the world. GNDC sat down with UAS Summit and Expo planner, John Nelson, to discuss the upcoming event, occurring October 28 and 29, virtually. 

    GNDC's video question to Nelson: Tell us about what went into the decision to go virtual.

    GNDC: Tell me the history of this conference.
    Nelson: The UAS Summit & Expo started as a small gathering of regional stakeholders. Now, 14 years later, the event in the Northern Plains of North Dakota has become a yearly major event for UAS experts from around the world. It’s the original epicenter of drone research. It has earned its place as the Silicon Valley of Drones, and as you’ll see from the commercial, government and military flight activity filling the sky of the region and beyond every day, it has truly become America’s UAS proving grounds.

    How will the platform work?
    As mentioned earlier, the virtual UAS Summit & Expo will run a lot like a live, in-person event. The show will still feature keynote addresses by industry leaders, compelling content and interactive sessions. There will also be an expo hall featuring state-of-the-art technologies and innovations from the UAS industry. Everywhere you go within the event, you will find opportunities to network with attendees, exhibitors and speakers. I highly recommend taking a look at the 30-minute video we produced.

    How will this be different than a webinar?
    Good question! So as a media and events company, we do not take this question lightly and I can assure you this event will not resemble a webinar.  Our number one goal at our events, regardless of a physical or virtual event, is to be a powerful conduit for our attendees, sponsors and exhibitors and ensure that they leave the event with value.   We focus on making the virtual event feel as close to a physical event as possible, through the use of live video discussions that allow the speakers to easily present their content, while at the same time interact with the audience in a real-time environment. Attendees can ask questions and receive answers to their questions, almost easier than they could at a physical show. If people are familiar with Zoom video conferencing, many of the presentations will feel more like that platform. We also have virtual booths in the expo hall. Exhibitors will have staff at their booths, ready to have personal chats or video meetings, so they can interact one-on-one and do business.  Exhibitors will also have the ability to play videos for attendees, redirect attendees to their website and have white papers and brochures ready to download.
    One of the important features to our events, is that we plan and promote games that encourage our attendees to interact with exhibitors and sponsors. The more interaction attendees do, the better prizes they can win.
    You can view a full run down of the event platform online. 
    Are there any scheduled speakers that you would like to highlight?
    I would highly recommend the following presentations; however, they are all extremely comprehensive.
    Leading Perspectives on UAS
    • Senator John Hoeven, U.S. Senate
    • Brigadier General Heather Pringle, Commander, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, U.S. Air Force
    • Steve Dickson, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
    Large UAS and AI-Enabled Aerial Imaging for Fire Mapping
    • Tom Swoyer, President, Grand Sky Development Company, LLC
    • Greg Davis, CEO, Overwatch Imaging
    U.S. Congressional Update on the Space Development Agency
    • Senator Kevin Cramer, U.S. Senate
    • Dr. Derek Tournear, Director, Space Development Agency
    BVLOS in North Dakota
    • Nicholas Flom, Executive Director, Northern Plains UAS Test Site
    Other presentations will be given by notable UAS companies such as: Northrop Grumman, General Atomics, Thales, L3Harris, UND, members of the Great Plains AUVSI Chapter and more.
    Who should attend?
    Technology Companies
    Government Officials
    Military Personnel
    UAS Students
    Economic Developers
    Business Developers
    Farmers/Ag Producers
    Land Surveyors
    Insurance Agents
    First Responders
    And Stakeholders within the UAS Industry
    UAS is not my industry. What can this conference do for me?
    If you are interested in learning about the latest technologies in the unmanned aerial systems industry, both from a military angle, and a commercial angle this event covers both sides of the industry. Also, if you are interested in learning about what North Dakota and the region are doing to be one of, if not the top places in the world for testing and developing new technologies in the UAS industry, this conference will give you a comprehensive understanding. And, because we are virtual this year, you won’t need to travel to Grand Forks.