2018 has been a big year in making real, thoughtful changes in the drone industry. We’ve seen a reduction in kitschy PR stunts like pizza delivery by drone, in favor of announcements that truly make a difference, such as Drone ID, UTM, and software improvements that continue to make drones safer and easier to use.
And it takes people to make those things happen.
The Women And Drones group, in partnership with Delair, GLOBHE and Sundance Media Group, this week announced their Women to Watch in UAS 2018 List, a program that recognizes a handful of women each year who have helped make a meaningful contribution to the drone industry.
— Kara Murphy 🚁 (@karaemurphyco) September 6, 2018
The Women to Watch in UAS List highlights 10 women this year, who were judged in categories such as conservation, product development, airspace integration and more. The women were selected via a judging panel made up of Chris Korody of DroneBusiness.center, Helena Samsioe of GLOBHE, Jennifer Pidgen of Sundance Media Group, Susan Talbot of Skytango, Wendy Erikson of Women And Drones and Taylor Mitcham of SkyNinja.
Here are the 10 winners this year:
Gemma Alcock – Search and Rescue (U.K.)
As the founder of SkyBound Rescuer, Alcock is helping shape the future of UAS use in emergency response. Her company is involved in drone research, consulting and training with the goal of introducing this new high-tech tool to those in the business of saving lives.
Baid leads product management and strategic operations for software platform Kittyhawk. Her focus on safety, compliance and maintenance along with a compelling vision for how UAV operations need to be managed at scale, makes her a trail blazer in the drone industry.
Jessica Chosid – Infrastructure (U.S.A)
Advancing urban infrastructure with UAS and robotic technology is Chosid’s driving force. She is founder and CEO of Reign Maker, a drone data and information firm that supports the engineering, telecom and utility sector. Chosid’s company is the first to collect structural data via UAS on a bridge in New York City.
Jackie Dujmovic – Conservation (Australia)
This founder and CEO of Hover UAV is an innovator in the field of drone-based shark surveillance, as well as integral part of the Australian government’s shark management research program. Dujmovic’s design for a shark alarm as well as cutting edge drone imagery make her a champion of UAS use in conservation.
Marjorie Ferrone – Entertainment & Education (U.S.A.)
Ferrone is Co-Founder and COO of Drone Parks Worldwide, a planned indoor facility where a newcomer to the drone hobby can enjoy supervised flight after walking in the door. By eliminating cost and equipment barriers with the benefit of safe and legal surroundings, Ferrone’s vision will bring drone education and entertainment to the masses.
Heather Hasper – Aviation Planning (U.S.A.)
With a PhD and decades as an Airport Operations and Planning manager, Hasper is working to incorporate drones into complex U.S. airspace. Her efforts include development of a 3D mapping application that will demonstrate where UAS operations are taking place, a big step in the direction toward safe and secure skies for the future.
Fiona Lake – Agricultural Photography (Australia)
A seasoned photographer, Lake discovered drones an ideal way to view the massive cattle ranches of Australia. Her images were recently featured in the Whispering Grass exhibit at the Australian embassy in Washington D.C. Lake also established the Rural Drone Academy where she shares her UAS expertise with other farmers.
Dale McErlean – Airspace Integration (South Africa)
McErlean is a manned aircraft pilot, dedicated to helping the South African Aviation Authority integrate unmanned aircraft systems. She is leading efforts to define standard procedure for drone operation in controlled airspace, beyond visual line of sight and night operations, contributing to the advancement of the drone industry in South Africa.
— FlightWave Aerospace (@FlightWaveAero) September 6, 2018
Gail Orenstein – Journalism (U.K.)
During her 25-year photojournalism career Orenstein has been reporting stories from places such as Iraq, Bangladesh and Nepal, often at great risk. Adding UAS to her skillset has taken storytelling to a new level, literally, as her drone images provide the world with a new perspective on human suffering.
Brook Tapsall – Safety Technology (Estonia & Australia)
Tapsall‘s experience in the spatial science industry was the impetus behind DroneALERT. DroneALERT is her rapid drone reporting application that can be completed using a mobile device. Law enforcement can then use the photos, videos and geo-locations to track down unsafe UAS activity.
— Sunrise Aerial Imaging, LLC (@SunriseAerial) September 6, 2018
The Women to Watch in UAS 2018 list was announced at Interdrone this year as part of the broader Women in Drones luncheon, which aims to encourage and support more women in the drone industry. There were 102,769 remote pilot certificates issued for drone operations as of Sept. 1, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. But of those, only 5,946 (that’s 5.8%) were issued to women.
Even at Interdrone, only two of the 15 keynote speeches were made by women (Esri’s Lorraine Tighe and UNICEF’s Judith Sherman). Other conferences, such as DJI Airworks, don’t have a single female speaker.