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Drones 101: Certification, Commercial vs. Hobby Usage 



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Software and Sensors

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Agriculture + Forestry 


Skyraider Aeronautics

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Skyraider Aeronautics

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UGA Crop and Soil Sciences 

Simerjeet Virk graduated from Auburn University with a MS degree in Biosystems Engineering in 2012 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Agricultural Engineering at University of Georgia. He also works as a research engineer in the area of precision agriculture and machine systems at the University of Georgia Tifton campus. His primary responsibility as a research engineer is to learn, share and promote the application and benefits of latest precision agriculture technology and practices through research and extension outreach. His research and experience also consists of evaluation and application of drone (UAV) imagery for in-season crop management for increasing crop productivity and farm profitability.


Digital Harvest

As an innovator in the development and use of satellites, manned aircraft, unmanned aerial and ground systems, remote and proximal sensing, and data analytics Young is combining his more than 25+ years of experience as a technologist and entrepreneur to the growth of Digital Harvest. His passion for the potential of unmanned systems in agriculture led him to create the conference exclusively focused on agriculture in 2011.  He remains active in the UAS industry, is a former member of the Board of Directors for AUVSI (Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) and led its first Precision Agriculture committee. He served on several aerospace and UAS committees, most recently as one of 19 council members to Virginia Governor’s Unmanned Systems Commission. In April 2016, State of Oregon awarded a grant to Digital Harvest to be the architect to stand-up ‘Future Farm’ at the Pendleton Oregon UAS Test Range.  He served as an officer in the US Air Force as an instructor and mission crew member, logged over 2,800 flight hours including 200 combat hours during Desert Storm in the E-3 Sentry AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System).  He holds a B.S. in Applied Physics from Georgia Tech and has an MBA.  He has four children, and resides in Camas Washington.

Heritage, Tourism and Marketing 


Ascend Aerials

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UGA College of Environment + Design, Graduate Historic Preservation program

Professor of Historic Preservation at the University of Georgia. As a licensed landscape architect, and trained in historic preservation, Goetcheus has nearly 30 years of experience in historic research, heritage planning, conservation and project management. In the UGA College of Environment and Design, Goetcheus teaches courses on cultural resource assessment, rural preservation, cultural landscape documentation and cultural landscape conservation.  She has published and presented extensively on these topics. Prior to her academic career, Ms. Goetcheus worked in both the public and private sector. As a Historical Landscape Architect with the National Park Service in Atlanta, GA and Washington, D.C., Cari worked with NPS regional colleagues who assisted the then 396 national parks with a variety of cultural landscape issues. In private practice, Ms. Goetcheus worked in both traditional landscape architecture offices on master plans, site designs and comprehensive planning reports, as well as historic preservation firms known for their cultural landscape work and developing National Heritage Areas. On a volunteer basis at the national level, Cari was instrumental in developing the Historic AmericanLandscape Survey program and its documentation guidelines. In 2013, Goetcheus and Dr. Thomas Jordan (UGA Center for Geospatial Research) received funding through the National Park Service’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training to study a variety of technology applications to cultural resource capture, documentation and management, including the use of drones.


GA Center for Geospatial Research

Dr. Thomas Jordan is an ASPRS Certified Photogrammetrist and former Associate Director of The UGA Center for Gerospatial Research.  He has been flying drones since early 2014 for natural resource and cultural heritage applications with an emphasis on developing 3D point cloud models of landscapes and cultural features.  He currently serves as Vice President of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

Legal Landscape: The 400 Foot View




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Choosing Your Drone
DOA: Drone Ownership and Acquisition


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Environmental Monitoring: Air, Water, Land


UGA Odum School of Ecology

Dr. Kimberly Andrews earned her Ph.D. in Ecology (2010), an M.Sc. in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development (2004), and a B.Sc. in Ecology (1999) from the University of Georgia (UGA). Kimberly is an Assistant Research Scientist and Graduate Faculty at the Odum School of Ecology. The Applied Wildlife Conservation Lab is located in Brunswick, GA at the Marine Extension. The integrated research conducted in her lab focuses on wildlife ecology and health, human-wildlife interactions and conflict resolution, habitat quality and management practices, and the effects and mitigation of built infrastructure. They employ both traditional and technological methods in their field work. Kimberly works on coastal projects in Georgia, South Carolina, and Costa Rica where her lab is using drones for wildlife population monitoring and shoreline change assessments. Kimberly incorporates education and public involvement as a critical component of all conservation research and management.


GA Center for Geospatial Research

Dr. Marguerite Madden is a Professor in the Department of Geography and Director of the Center for Geospatial Research (CGR) ( where researchers have collaborated on projects using remote sensing and GIS since the 1980s. Combining domain knowledge in ecology, geography, psychology and physics, with expertise in GIS, remote sensing, photogrammetry, modeling, visualization and field surveying (including the exciting use of drones) CGR develops and applys geospatial approaches to interdisciplinary research, education and service. Dr. Madden is a Fellow and Past President (2007) of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) and Editor of the ASPRS Manual of GIS. She was ISPRS Technical Commission IV President, “Digital Mapping and Geodatabases” (2008-2012) and ISPRS Council Second Vice President (2012-2016). She also is the Lead Science Advisor for the NASA DEVELOP node at UGA.


UGA Integrative Conservation

Jeffrey Beauvais is a second year PhD student in Integrative Conservation and Ecology in Dr. Jeb Byer’s lab at the University of Georgia. He is interested in investigating the ecological impacts of shoreline armoring on the Georgia and South Carolina coast. This includes using aerial photography to document how artificial structures alter wrack deposition in salt marshes, and the consequences this has for the health of salt marsh plant communities. Additionally, he is interested in examining the nexus of race, development, and the coastal environment, and how the development of the coast has been enabled by race-based vulnerabilities.


UGA Odum School of Ecology

Daniel received his B.Sc. in Geology from the National University of Ireland, Galway. After moving to the U.S. in 2006, he worked for the University of Georgia’s Marine Extension Service (MAREX) for 6 years. At MAREX he coordinated the G.E.O.R.G.I.A. (Generating Enhanced Oysters Reefs in Georgia’s Inshore Areas) Oyster Restoration Program, conducted oyster mapping projects and was a team member of an interagency living shoreline coalition. Now as a 6th year PhD student at the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology, he is interested in spatial distribution patterns between oysters and Spartina and how these patterns may change with climate change and sea level rise. He hopes to use his research to improve future living shoreline and oyster restoration project design.


University of Florida

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Film + Entertainment 


Independent Consultant

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Broadcast Solutions

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Ascend Aerials

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UGA New Media Institute

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Starting a Drone – Based Business: Drones for Inspections, Real Estate, etc. 



What started out as a hobby quickly developed into a passion for photojournalist Thomas Wilson.  He enjoyed being in the air so much that he started Wilson Aerial Productions in 2015 and became FAA-Part 107 certified after two years of flying as an amateur, working with a wide array of clients from Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores to one of the largest concrete suppliers in the Carolinas. Thomas also is chief drone pilot and TV photographer at WCNC-TV, a NBC affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina and, flies and manages the drone program for DroneCLT, LLC in Charlotte, working all over the country with the international Sonesta Resort Hotels chain. Thomas has over 10 years experience in video production. Thomas just got married in September to his wife, Jenna, who was also in TV news.


Independent Consultant

Bob Johnson, is an independent consultant who helps companies integrate aerial data into actionable intelligence using drone technologies. His primary focus is business development with industrial commercial inspections for telecom, utility, railroad, airline, construction and energy sectors. He worked as Senior Vice President, Solusia Air, LLC, and has over 20 years of experience with corporate and start-up technology companies in business development. Solusia Air was the first company in Georgia to obtain the FAA 333 Exemption # 11216 and 38th in the U.S. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing/ Business Administration from Auburn University. He is in the Auburn Harbert College of Business Mentorship Program and enjoys fly fishing and college football. He is a board member of the AUVSI (Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International- Atlanta Chapter, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics). He is Past Co-Chair and Board Member of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Atlanta and also Past President and Board Member of the Atlanta Buckhead Lions Club. Mr. Johnson gained early corporate experience while working at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and General Motors serving as a pioneer in the Silicon Valley in Cupertino, CA. He has been associated with disruptive and over-the-top technologies within the UAS/ Drone, telecom, wireless, railroad, utilities and predictive analytics sectors. He has worked with MCI, MFS (Metropolitan Fiber Systems), Qwest, AGL Resources, ICG and US Carrier in developing wholesale strategies for the design and implementation of infrastructure of dark fiber assets nationwide. He started the first telecom division for Norfolk Southern Railroad, T-Cubed (Thoroughbred Technology and Communications) and was instrumental in the construction of networks for AT&T, Cingular, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, CSX and IBM. He also was instrumental as an entrepreneur in developing Auburn Broadband, LLC, as the First-To-Market deployment of FCC acquired licensed spectrum 4G in Georgia and Alabama. As of January 2015, Johnson had a successful exit from Predikto Analytics, an early stage company, resulting in raising $4M from venture capital Tech Operators and the Atlanta Technical Angels (ATA). He has deep domain of industry and cross industry experience for new, surprising and radically useful innovation. He has been a featured speaker at TAG (Technology Association of Georgia) and LSI (Lawyers Seminar International) for the deployment of wireless infrastructure of small cells and DAS. In his role at Solusia Air, he was responsible for business development and go-to-market strategies. Solusia Air is an aerial data acquisition and analytics firm that utilizes UAS/ Drone technologies for Infrastructure Inspections. The sectors focused were utilities, telecom, rail and DOT bridges and dams.


Carolina Drone Imaging and Carolina Drone Academy

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MODERATOR: Bronwyn Morgan

Wings Drones

Bronwyn Morgan is the Founder of Subkulture Innovation Lab, an innovation and advanced tech solutions firm focused on future proofing organizations. Her latest venture is Wings Drones, a new solution for drone services and drone support geared toward the future. She has 28 years of senior level management experience across strategic planning, marketing, innovation, and business development with large Fortune 50 companies such as P&G and Coca-Cola, and within the entertainment industry.  In addition, a history in strategic alliance and executive level partnership management, M&A, cross functional team leadership, and commercialization strategies. She’s managed and worked with many Silicon Valley tech CEOs, VCs and startups in new cutting edge technology.  Her work spreads across robotics, artificial intelligence, UAVs, virtual and augmented realities and emerging new ideas yet to be released to the market. Currently her focus is in the commercialization of new solutions and latent intellectual property to create and implement new business models and ventures to help companies to lead in disruption. Her work experience has spanned Asia, Europe, and South America. Bronwyn is an alumna of the University of Illinois. She is a Board Director and Chief Equity Officer for Start Up Atlanta, and is the Founder of Black Women In STEAM ATL and formerly on the boards of TEDx and World Water Relief. She has been named a leading influencer of technology in the Atlanta ecosystem, and was recently named a Woman of The Year in Technology by WIT Georgia. In addition, she has been named one of the top 10 “Influential People in Technology” in Atlanta by Hypepotamus. She was also Associate Director at Georgia State University’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Institute.

Q & A


The Poynter Institute

Al Tompkins is a senior faculty member for broadcast and online at The Poynter Institute, the world’s premiere school for journalists. For nearly 30 years, he worked as a photojournalist, reporter, producer, anchor, assistant news director, special projects/investigations director, documentary producer and news director. Tompkins has trained thousands of television news producers, reporters, photojournalists and managers in his One-Day Storytelling Workshops in 49 states, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Egypt, Ecuador, Cayman and South Africa. He has taught and coached print newsrooms in the U.S. and abroad on how to investigate and report, build interactive news websites, how to use video more effectively online and how to manage ethical issues. Tompkins was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and in 2008 was awarded The Governor’s Award, the highest honor given by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. During his two and a half decades as a journalist, Tompkins has won the National Emmy, the Peabody Award (group award), the Japan Prize, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel for Court Reporting, seven National Headliner Awards, two Iris Awards and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. His clients include NBC, CNN, The Weather Channel, CBS, Scripps station group, NBC Broadcast Station Group, Telemundo, Univision, CBC Canada, Global TV Canada, SABC South Africa, Cox Media and scores of other major news organizations, local TV stations, public radio stations, online and social media newsrooms and newspapers. Tompkins is often quoted in newspaper, TV, network, public radio and cable coverage of media stories including NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, NPR Morning Edition and All Things Considered, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Herald and hundreds of others. He holds an MA in Digital Journalism and Design from the University of South Florida. Tompkins is the author of the January 2017 Third Edition ofAim For The Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters, which was adopted by more than 150 universities as their main broadcast writing textbook. He co-authored four editions of the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation’s Newsroom Ethics workbook.



Kids Drone Zone

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Security + Safety


Attorney for the City of Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Ms. Wharton is a policy and transaction attorney specializing in the development and scale of drone, smart city, and other emerging technologies. As a Senior Assistant City Attorney in the City of Atlanta’s Law Department’s Aviation Group, she advises Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the City of Atlanta on technology-related projects and public policy matters. She is a frequent presenter and published author on drone and information security regulatory matters and has been quoted in publications including the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Southern Political Report, and Tripwire’s The State of Security.  Ms. Wharton also hosts the “Buzz Off with Lawyer Liz” radio show on America’s Web Radio and “Lawyer Liz” podcast on iTunes, a weekly discussion with industry and legal experts on drones, IoT, and other technology issues.


SkyFire Consulting 

Ms. Wharton is a policy and transaction attorney specializing in the development and scale of drone, smart city, and other emerging technologies. As a Senior Assistant City Attorney in the City of Atlanta’s Law Department’s Aviation Group, she advises Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the City of Atlanta on technology-related projects and public policy matters. She is a frequent presenter and published author on drone and information security regulatory matters and has been quoted in publications including the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Southern Political Report, and Tripwire’s The State of Security.  Ms. Wharton also hosts the “Buzz Off with Lawyer Liz” radio show on America’s Web Radio and “Lawyer Liz” podcast on iTunes, a weekly discussion with industry and legal experts on drones, IoT, and other technology issues.



The Weather Channel

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Fox 5 Atlanta

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Tony Thomas joined WSB-TV Channel 2 in October 2009. He’s no stranger to Atlanta news; he spent more than 8 years reporting for WAGA-TV. In October 2013, Tony was promoted to Gwinnett County Bureau Chief. Tony graduated from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois and got his first full-time reporting job at a TV station before even graduating college. His first job was at WIFR-TV in Rockford, Illinois. After anchoring and investigative reporting positions in Madison, Wisconsin and Las Vegas, Nevada, Tony found his way to Atlanta. Tony has covered almost all of the major stories across the Southeast since moving to Atlanta including hurricanes, tornados, the mass shootings at Virginia Tech, and the hunt and capture of Olympic Park Bomber Eric Rudolph. Tony has been awarded seven Southeast Regional Emmy awards. He was also nominated for a National Spot News Emmy Award for his helicopter based coverage of a high speed chase through Atlanta in 2002. Tony lives in the North Metro with his wife and three children. When not chasing news, Tony is a die-hard Chicago Cubs baseball fan.


Director of Atmospheric Sciences Program, UGA

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