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Drones 101: Certification, Commercial vs. Hobby Usage 



Eric serves as the Head of North America Public Policy at DJI, the world’s leading civilian drone company. Eric directs DJI’s advocacy efforts on regulatory and legislative issues before the federal government, the 50 states and in Mexico and Canada. Previously, he was the State Government Affairs Executive at POET, LLC, the leading biofuels company. Eric was hired to open POET’s Washington, DC, office and launch its State Government Affairs function. Prior to working at POET, Eric served as Chief of Staff to Maria Cino, and was Director of Government Relations for Hewlett Packard. Eric holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Lehigh University, from which he graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa and a Juris Doctor degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He is based in DJI’s Washington, DC, office. Eric lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two children.



Mickey Osterreicher is experienced in contract, media, copyright and First Amendment Law. He has been actively involved in matters such as cameras in the courtroom, the federal shield law, media access, public photography, orphan works and copyright infringement. He handles legal and public relations analysis, multi-media communications, risk assessment and planning as well as policy development and implementation. Mickey is known for identifying, assessing and communicating well under adverse circumstances with short deadlines, as he possesses years of experience dealing with fast-breaking and complex issues.



As Senior Director of National News Technology, Agvent leads the recently created CNN Aerial Imagery & Reporting unit, CNN AIR. A clear expert, Agvent was named to the federal Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) and also sits on the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST). He is a member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), ASTM and serves on the Advisory Board of ASSURE (Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence).

Software and Sensors


Kitty Hawk

Joshua is the Co-Founder and Chief Pilot of venture-backed Kittyhawk and a founding member of the Unmanned Aviation Safety Team. Josh is an FAA Part 107 certificate holder and has been flying all manner unmanned aircraft for 15 years. He has piloted everything from a 15 foot Taco Bell Chalupa Blimp to 40 pound 150cc aerobatic aircraft. As an accomplished flyer, Josh has flown professionally for the NHL, ABC Television and various manned-aviation airshows. Josh is a self-taught programmer and entrepreneur. After studying Poetry at Arizona State University, he started and sold several successful businesses.


MODERATOR: Georgia Department of Economic Development

Gary O’Neill is also a Senior Research Engineer with the Georgia Tech School of Aerospace Engineering and Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). He currently serves as the Senior Aerospace and Defense Specialist of the Center of Innovation.


Abroadened Horizon

Joshua Pruitt is the Founder and CEO of Abroadened Horizon, an Atlanta-based aerial media company servicing the film and TV industry as well as the luxury real estate market in Atlanta and beyond. Started in 2015, Abroadened Horizon, holds several major network contracts and provides marketing materials to some of the most prominent luxury real estate groups in the South. Joshua comes from a background in public Safety, serving in the Georgia and New Jersey fire service for 6 years with a focus in hazardous materials. He was awarded the 2014 Georgia Rookie Firefighter of the Year for his efforts in charity work with the Georgia Fallen Firefighters Foundation. When not flying for Abroadened Horizon, Joshua enjoys backpacking and international travel as well as the outdoors.

Agriculture + Forestry 


Skyraider Aeronautics

Daniel Knaul is the COO and Co-Founder of Skyraider Aeronautics. He has four years of linguistic and analytic experience, and more than 2 years of management experience with a national three-letter agency. As a part of this, he has amassed extensive on-the-job training and public speaking experience in his time in the Navy, and is thrilled to be putting it to good use on his own terms.


Skyraider Aeronautics

Meet Daniel Scheiner, CEO, and visionary of Skyraider Aeronautics with 10 years of unmanned systems a soldier as well as a Senior Consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton. During this time he developed a passion for the technology, and the potential benefits that it would eventually bring to the civilian world. Daniel has directed Skyraider towards the agricultural community, believing that it is the place where, at least in the near future, our technology can have the greatest impact.


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 experience 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). He holds a B.S. in Applied Physics from Georgia Tech and has an MBA.


University of Georgia, Tifton Campus

Dr. Rains has a PhD in Agricultural Engineering from Virginia Tech. His primary area of research is the application of engineering science to develop sensor technologies and strategies for applications in pest and pathogen detection and management.

Heritage, Tourism and Marketing 


UGA College of Environment + Design, Graduate Historic Preservation program

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.  In 2013, Goetcheus and Dr. Thomas Jordan (UGA Center for Geospatial Research) received funding 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.


100 Digital Creativity, Inc

Fabio Musio is the owner of 100 Digital Creativity ( which specializes in providing avant-garde aerial, ground and underwater media, with special emphasis on travel and economic development clients. Born and raised in Turin, Italy, Fabio has passion to learn, analyze, adopt new technologies and tools to enhance his client’s brands with cutting-edge imagery. Fabio is an eager adopter of new technology and beta tester of innovative software for the production of 360 3D imagery and Apps for web, mobile and VR headset.


UGA Grady College

Davis worked for ten years as a journalist after his graduation from North Georgia College before leaving full-time journalism to complete a master’s degree from the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and to earn a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Florida. He spent 14 years as a faculty member, including four as department chair at the Missouri School of Journalism.  His teaching awards include the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Teacher of the Year Award in 2008, the Provost’s Award for Junior Faculty Teaching in 2001, and the University of Missouri Alumni Association’s Faculty/Alumni Award in 2008.

Legal Landscape: The 400 Foot View




David Vigilante is senior vice president for CNN legal, and senior vice president and associate general counsel for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.).  Vigilante is based in Atlanta and reports to the executive vice president and general counsel of TBS, Inc., Louise Sams.

Vigilante’s responsibilities include serving as chief editorial counsel for CNN’s worldwide operations, as well as oversight of legal issues involving program acquisitions, technology, and business transactions.   He has oversight of all litigation affecting TBS, Inc., and its subsidiaries worldwide, which in addition to CNN, encompasses brands TNT, TBS, truTV, Cartoon Network and Turner’s international networks.

David occasionally contributes to CNN, and in 2013 was awarded the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing.

Choosing Your Drone
DOA: Drone Ownership and Acquisition


Carolina Drone Imaging and Carolina Drone Academy

Jeff is the Founder of both Carolina Drone Academy and Carolina Drone Imaging. As a drone service provider, Carolina Drone Imaging specializes in high-end aerial photography and filming of live events, media and advertising spots, college baseball and football as well as specialty aerial inspections of telecom infrastructure. Jeff’s passion for spreading the good word about drones and drone solutions led to the creation of Carolina Drone Academy. Carolina Drone Academy’s mission is to educate businesses, individuals, first responders, and other agencies on the safe, legal, and effective operation of drones. Through a developing partnership with select South Carolina Colleges, Carolina Drone Academy is focused on being a catalyst for the adoption of this game-changing technology that saves lives, saves time, and reduces cost.



Bio coming soon!

Environmental Monitoring: Air, Water, Land


UGA Odum School of Ecology

Dr. Kimberly Andrews is an Assistant Research Scientist and Graduate Faculty at the Odum School of Ecology. Her integrated research conducted in the Applied Wildlife Conservation Lab in Brunswick, GA 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. 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.


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. CGR develops and applies geospatial approaches to interdisciplinary research, education and service through expertise in various fields. Dr. Madden is a Fellow and Past President (2007) of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) and Editor of the ASPRSManual of GIS. 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 is a PhD student at UGA’s Odum School of Ecology. After moving to the U.S. from Ireland 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. 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.


UGA Department of Crop and Soil Sciences

Courtney received a bachelor’s degree in Ecological Agriculture with a concentration in soil science from the University of Vermont. A native Georgian, she has recently returned home to pursue a graduate degree in Crop and Soil Sciences at UGA. She works closely with the UGA Marine Extension Service & Georgia Sea Grant, where her research focuses on the edge effects of shoreline armoring in Georgia’s tidal creeks. She hopes to pursue a career in cooperative extension, using applied research to serve both community and environment.


University of Florida

Dr. Matthew A. Burgess is the Program Coordinator of the University of Florida Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Program; a large interdisciplinary research program in its 18th year at the University of Florida (UF). Dr. Burgess has significant domestic and international field experience in both terrestrial and aquatic systems, including authoring manuscripts and leading fieldwork and research teams for a diverse range of studies with unmanned aircraft systems and their payloads. Matthew has served as an invited panelist, presented numerous conference papers and posters, and has become a resource for academic institutions, as well as local, state, and federal government agencies seeking information and guidance on fielding unmanned aircraft systems for natural resource-based applications.

Film + Entertainment 


Independent Consultant

Bio coming soon!


Broadcast Solutions

Russ has been involved in television and/or radio nearly all of his life. Upon graduation in 1976 from the University of Missouri School of Journalism (BJ), he was immediately hired as news director for KTGR/KTGC AM/FM, in Columbia, Missouri. Russ then spent 13 years with WAGA in Atlanta as a general assignment reporter and three years with CNN Southeast as a freelance correspondent. For the last decade, Russ and Jack English have been partners in Broadcast Solutions and Southeast Stockfootage, which is the largest high definition aerials library in the Southeast. In 2008, Broadcast Solutions shot the Telly Award winning High Definition Documentary, The South Takes Flight.


Ascend Aerials

Mr. Northern is an FAA licensed Pilot and a capable UAS operator with hundreds of hours in flight/film experience.  He serves as the lead Pilot and Director of Photography for the Ascend Aerials team, and he brings a comprehensive understanding of flight safety and aeronautical standards to each of his projects.  Louie has filmed for some of the largest film studios in the world and has seen his work play on both primetime television as well as in movie theaters all over the globe. In 2014, Mr. Northern founded Ascend Aerials, and he currently leads their team of specialty camera movement experts on projects which range from News Gathering, to Scripted Television and Narratives, to Feature Films.


UGA New Media Institute

John Weatherford serves on the faculty of the New Media Institute in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. His courses cover topics including iOS app development, emerging photographic technologies, and digital product design. He serves on the steering committee for TEDxUGA as Director of Production and Photography and has been awarded fellowships focused on technology and teaching. Prior to joining the NMI, John taught in the English Department at UGA, where he developed courses such as Documentary Filmmaking and Writing for Nonprofits. He co-founded and serves as CFO of the Calliope Initiative, a non-profit open-source software project that designs web applications for writing courses.

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. 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.


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. 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. Mr. Johnson has been associated with disruptive and over-the-top technologies within the UAS/ Drone, telecom, wireless, railroad, utilities and predictive analytics sectors. 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

Jeff is the Founder of both Carolina Drone Academy and Carolina Drone Imaging. As a drone service provider, Carolina Drone Imaging specializes in high-end aerial photography and filming of live events, media and advertising spots, college baseball and football as well as specialty aerial inspections of telecom infrastructure. Jeff’s passion for spreading the good word about drones and drone solutions led to the creation of Carolina Drone Academy. Carolina Drone Academy’s mission is to educate businesses, individuals, first responders, and other agencies on the safe, legal, and effective operation of drones. Through a developing partnership with select South Carolina Colleges, Carolina Drone Academy is focused on being a catalyst for the adoption of this game-changing technology that saves lives, saves time, and reduces cost.

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. 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. 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. She is a Board Director and Chief Equity Officer for Start Up Atlanta, and is the Founder of Black Women In STEAM ATL. 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.



Kids Drone Zone

Jacquene Curlee is nationally recognized as a leader in the innovation and strategic implementation of Drone Technology Education and is the CEO/Founder of Kids Drone Zone (KDZ), and International Drone Organization (IDO). She is currently prepping to take the FAA Remote Pilot License and is pursuing her Private Pilot License. The global initiative of Kids Drone Zone is to educate youth around the globe about not only Drone/UAV technology but also unmanned systems technology and how this technology benefits mankind with an emphasis on STEAM programs. Kids Drone Zone teaches kids, teens, and adults how to build, code, fly, and crash drones as well as provide the platform for scholars to pursue Drone Technology careers. Jacquene presented the need for funding of Drone Education in schools to Congress last year. She is currently planning a trip to South Africa in 2018 where she will host a Youth Drone Day. International Drone Organization focuses on adult drone technology education and training. Each Year IDO host International Drone Day in Georgia. IDO creates a platform for adults to earn their Part 107 Certification, enhance flying skills, as well as networking.


University of Georgia

Dr. “Tripp” Roger Lowe III is an Assistant Professor at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources ( where he teaches courses in the integrated use of technology in natural resource management, including the first UGA-listed drone applications course in the spring of 2017 (FANR 5640/7640). Having served at Warnell for over 18 years, Tripp has had the opportunity to experience firsthand the rapid growth in geospatial technologies and has met the challenge of determining how these technologies best fit into the various natural resource management workflows. His current research revolves around the rapid acquisition and processing of drone-based information and how it is best incorporated into the decision making process. Tripp holds degrees in forestry (PhD 2013, MS 2002, BSFR 1996) from UGA and is FAA Part 107 certified.

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 

Matt Sloane is the CEO and founder of Skyfire Consulting, a public safety focused UAV consultancy; and its parent company, Atlanta Drone Group.Skyfire specializes in helping police, fire and emergency management agencies complete the FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) process, provides all of the necessary training, and helps departments select the most appropriate UAV equipment.Before he founded Atlanta Drone Group in 2014, Matt spent 14 years in various roles at CNN in Atlanta, including 12 as a medical news producer and special projects manager for Dr. Sanjay Gupta. In addition to his work there, he worked as a certified Emergency Medical Technician for Emory EMS, working his way up to Chief of Resources and Planning for the department. Matt is an inaugural member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) technical committee on drones, and an FAA-certified pilot.



The Weather Channel

Jim Robinson is the Senior Supervising Producer of Digital Video and Digital Studios Manager at The Weather Company, an IBM business. Robinson’s near 20-year ​career has taken him around the country, and around the world. At The Weather Company, Jim lead the way in building the studios that are now streaming the the most well-respected weather coverage in the world, including IBM’s digital properties, The Weather Channel app, and branded social media accounts. Along with Robinson’s love for storytelling is a deep admiration of science and aviation​. Years ago, attaching small cameras to remote control helicopters helped him drive new and creative shots for news stories. And now, Jim’s work with drones is changing the game.Jim has been responsible for bringing aerial video to the storytelling effort at The Weather Company. Using this technology has opened new doors and perspectives. The coverage of tornadoes, flooding, and damage caused by natural disasters will never be the same.


Fox 5 Atlanta

Doug Evans is a veteran TV news broadcaster whose passion for storytelling and new technology helped to assist 21st Century Fox in developing its first-ever drone journalism program.  He is a news anchor, reporter and meteorologist.  As a hobbyist and then a commercially rated UAV pilot, he has logged more than 400 hours of safe drone flights, including FAA-approved missions in restricted national airspace and night waiver. He continues to assist in company-wide drone flight approvals, flight instruction, maintenance of multiple drone systems as well as formulation of safety protocols. He is the Chief Drone Pilot for WAGA-TV and is a member of the FOX Flight Team and FOX Flight Desk.  Winner of seven TV news Emmy awards for writing and reporter achievement. Creator of Tech Check, a weekly segment on technology trends.



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 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.


Director of Atmospheric Sciences Program, UGA

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd is a leading international expert in weather and climate and is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia. Dr. Shepherd serves as Director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program and Full Professor in the Department of Geography where he is Associate Department Head. Dr. Shepherd is also the host of The Weather Channel’s Award-Winning Sunday talk show Weather Geeks, a pioneering Sunday talk show on national television dedicated to science and a contributor to Forbes Magazine. Dr. Shepard routinely appears on CBS Face The Nation, NOVA, The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, The Weather Channel and several others. His TEDxAtlanta Talk on “Slaying Climate Zombies” is one of the most viewed climate lectures on YouTube. Dr. Shepherd is also frequently asked to advise key leaders at NASA, the White House, Congress, Department of Defense, and officials from foreign countries. Dr. Shepherd was instrumental in leading the effort for UGA to become the 78th member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a significant milestone for UGA and establishing UGA’s Major in Atmospheric Sciences. Dr. Shepherd was the first African American to receive a PhD from the Florida State University Department of Meteorology. He is also the 2nd African American to preside over the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Shepherd co-authored a children’s book on weather and weather instruments called Dr. Fred’s Weather Watch.