Past Member Spotlight 2021

September 2021

Graham Wagner

Congratulations to SCDNR Wildlife Biologist Graham Wagner for being SCiDUC’s September Member Spotlight recipient.  Graham began working in the Shellfish Research Section of the Marine Resources Division in September 2019, soon after earning his Master of Science degree from the College of Charleston in marine biology. He quickly became involved in the Section’s small drone program, gaining practical experience in the field and studying on his own to obtain his Part 107 certification in February 2020. Since then, Graham has become a key member of our mapping team, acting as Pilot in Command for around 30 missions in his first year as a drone pilot. He has used his excellent quantitative analysis skills to improve the Section’s UAV mapping and remote sensing activities. Graham’s levelheaded demeanor and his ability to learn new approaches have quickly made him indispensable. He is an excellent example of an early career professional that has embraced this new technology while moving the field of UAV-based science in a positive direction. 

Congratulations Graham!!

July 2021

Ryan Reid

As a member of SCiDUC, Ryan Reid is both committed to his full-time professional career as a first responder and his commitment to sharing his passions for technical advances in the Unmanned Aerial System industry for Public Safety. Ryan is a UAS FAA Part 107 certified Pilot currently employed with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office (SC). Additionally, Ryan serves as a UAS pilot on their Search and Rescue (SAR) team and his duties in Uniform Patrol.

 

With over 23 years as a first responder, Ryan has dedicated his life to public safety and continues to grow by gaining more advanced knowledge of innovative robotic solutions to save lives, gain situational awareness, and enhance tactical operations.

 

Ryan started his emergency services career as a volunteer firefighter while in high school. However, Ryan’s passion for public safety grew over the years and delivered him into a career in law enforcement. As Ryan expanded his fire and law enforcement services knowledge, he obtained his bachelor's degree from Anderson University in Emergency Management / Homeland Security. Ryan served as incident commander on several federally declared incidents in the State of South Carolina and was awarded a South Carolina State Achievement Ribbon for his outstanding performances during the disasters of Hurricane Matthew.

 

“Using this technology in public safety to enhance situational awareness, document and record critical indents in real-time is paramount. Drone technology is the tool for the toolbox! This technology assists in saving lives and property, bottom line! When we can utilize this technology to keep our responders and the general public safe, it is a win for everyone.”

 

Ryan utilizes UAS technology in his daily functions and continues to work with his agency and its leaders to educate, train, and grow their UAS program into one of the best in the state. To date, Ryan has flown over 200 UAS missions for public safety to locate missing/endangered persons, eluding suspects, or document critical incidents. 

June 2021

Alastair (Al) Boulding

Al has played a vital role in SCiDUC from the very beginning working with Joe Burgett and the rest of the Board with a wide range of organizational logistics.  Some of Al’s key contributions are creating the SCiDUC website, coordinating quarterly meetings, keeping up with our social media, and many other critical organizational tasks.  In addition to supporting SCiDUC, Al has been working with Dr. Joe Burgett at Clemson University with their drone program over the past year.  As a Ph.D. student, he has assisted with several drone research projects and has taught drone classes to undergraduate and graduate students.  As a testament to his exceptional abilities and depth of professional experience, he recently accepted a position with Clemson University as a full-time lecturer in the Nieri Family Department of Construction Science and Management. Thank you for all of your help in making SCiDUC what it is today. 

 

Thanks again Al!!

May 2021

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Dr. Nikos Vitzilaios

Dr. Nikos Vitzilaios is SCiDUC’s Member Spotlight recipient for May 2021.  He is an Assistant Professor of Robotics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Carolina (UofSC). He is the Director of the Unmanned Systems & Robotics Laboratory (USRL) working on perception, navigation and control of unmanned systems focusing on unmanned aircraft. USRL has a fleet of 15 drones including commercial, customized and in-house built systems used in several monitoring\inspection applications.

Dr. Vitzilaios has more than 15 years of experience in the field; he earned his PhD in 2010 working on the autonomous control of small-scale unmanned helicopters. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta (2011-2012) he worked on nonlinear control of heavy lift unmanned helicopters. As a Research Scientist (2012-2015) at the University of Denver, he worked on a National Science Foundation project on the development and integration of teams of aerial and ground robots. Prior to joining UofSC (2017) he was a Senior Lecturer of Robotics at Kingston University London (United Kingdom) where he was elected a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  

Dr. Vitzilaios has more than 30 publications in international conferences and journals. He is a Senior Member of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and member of the organizing committee of the annual International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS). 

Congratulations Dr. Vitzilaios for being our SCiDUC  May 2021 member spotlight!

April 2021

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Maziar Fooladi-Mahani

Maziar plays a lead role in developing the Clemson Center for Geospatial Technologies’ (CCGT) drone program and keeping the center current with emerging technology in imagery and remote sensing. He is also an FAA Part 107 certified remote pilot and responsible for collaborating with faculty members and researchers at Clemson University with state-of-the-art applications of unmanned aerial systems and implementation of Machine/Deep Learning algorithms for airborne imagery products.

 

In addition to his role at the CCGT, Maziar is pursuing his Ph.D. in AI and Robotics in Interdisciplinary Intelligence Research Lab at the Mechanical Engineering Department of Clemson University and expects to graduate in December 2021. Throughout his work and research at Clemson, Maziar has worked in various UAV-related projects such as multi-UAV teams motion/mission planning, UAV operating systems, remote sensing, and airborne imagery visualization and analysis.

 

Thanks, Maziar for everything you're doing!!!

March 2021

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Scott Harris

Scott Harris, is SCiDUC’s Member Spotlight recipient for March 2021.  Scott has been involved with SCiDUC since its first meeting in 2019 and is currently chairing the Policy Committee.  He holds a Ph.D. in geology and is a Part 107 certified pilot who uses drones regularly in his job as a geologist and geoarchaeologist to map, characterize, and visualize short- and long-term changes in the landscape and environment in South Carolina, across the USA, and overseas.  Scott also has an MS degree in Environmental Science and a BS degree In Geology with a minor in Anthropology.  Scott is a faculty member in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at the College of Charleston (CofC), Director of the Archaeology Program, and Chair of the CofC Senate Budget Committee and member of that Senate.  In past years he has served many groups as treasurer, secretary, budget organizer, and chair,  and looks forward to continue serving the public and his colleagues across the globe. 

February 2021

Evan Cook

Evan Cook, GIS Manager of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Marine Resources Division, is SCiDUC’s Member Spotlight recipient for February 2021. Evan has MS degrees in both GIS and Environmental Studies and a background using sUAS within the private sector and not-for-profit organizations. He has experience in coastal research and engineering, surveying, land management, and building information management (BIM). Evan also holds a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate. In his current position as the GIS Manager for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Marine Resources Division, he has become a key source of sUAS information and guidance within the Agency. Since coming to SCDNR, Evan has been particularly successful at helping develop workflows to increase sUAS mapping accuracy and to improve data management. He has been a member of SCiDUC since its inception and recently presented a SCiDUC-related talk at a regional meeting, garnering significant acclaim and positive recognition for the organization. He was nominated for the member spotlight in recognition of his important efforts for both the SCDNR and the SCiDUC organization. 

January 2021

Thomas Knight

Tom’s formal education is in Civil Engineering and has years of field and applied research experience in hydraulic design at SCDOT. This is a perfect background to identify where drones can be used to manage flood risk. Tom has great passion to use drones in disaster management and response. Drones are the latest example where he is interested in using as a new tool to improve flood monitoring and mapping and disaster recovery. Adopting new technologies takes a certain amount of courage and time, however, Tom is dedicated in using new tools for safety evaluation against floods. He is an excellent example of how disaster management and response can benefit from drone technologies and application.

See Past 2020 Member Spotlights Here