This panel will focus on the current and emerging uses of drones, automation and robotics technology in production agriculture, with a focus on fresh produce and row crops. Panelists represent significant agricultural enterprises and leading edge service providers in the Salinas Valley including: Patrick Zelaya of Heavy Connect, Greg Crutsinger of Scholar Farms, Greg Gonzalez of Scheid Vineyards, Richard De Andrade of Solare Trace. Panel will be moderated by Dennis Donohue, Innovation Lead at Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology.
Dennis Donohue currently serves as the Director of Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, a premier agtech startup incubator based in Salinas, California. In this role, Donohue drives agtech initiatives; bolsters innovation programming; facilitates relationships between start-up companies and growers; and spearheads business development at the Center.
Donohue’s leadership in agriculture, as well as the agricultural technology industry, is extensive. He has played a key role in creating innovative business models, identifying new technologies and developing initiatives that integrate agtech and innovation into the business structure at organizations such as Cultiva Global, European Vegetable Specialties/Royal Rose, River Ranch Fresh Foods, Fresh Express Farms and Fresh Western Marketing. Additionally, his dedication to the community is unmatched. Donohue’s strong civic commitment includes his leadership as Salinas’ Mayor from 2006 to 2012 and serving on governing boards at the Grower Shipper Association of Central California, Salinas Chamber of Commerce and Steinbeck Innovation Foundation.
Donohue holds a master’s degree from Gannon University in religious education and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of San Francisco. He currently lives in Salinas with his wife, Paula.
Dr. Greg Crutsinger is the founder of Scholar Farms, which specializes in using multi-spectral cameras & drones for vegetation mapping. The company was founded from extensive experience in academic research and teaching, as well as the commercial drone industry. Prior to Scholar Farms Greg worked for leading drone hardware and software companies. While serving academia, Greg was an Assistant Professor of Ecology at the University of British Columbia.
Greg is the Director of Vineyard Operations at Scheid Vineyards. At Scheid, Greg utilizes a multi-disciplined background in Physical & Natural Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Geographic Information Systems, and Project Management to aid in the progression and implementation in cultural/operational technologies that will improve efficiency with the overall objective of maximizing production/quality throughout the vineyard operation.
Patrick Zelaya is the Founder and CEO of HeavyConnect, an agtech startup headquartered in Salinas, California. Patrick has an extensive and diverse background in global agriculture. Working at Deere and Company has taken him from the tractor assembly plant in Waterloo, Iowa, to sugar cane harvesters in Argentina, to forage harvesters in Germany, and almost everywhere in between. Patrick understands the diversity in farming practices and the need for dynamic support of field operations. Patrick’s career has provided valuable experience with the product development and validation process as well as manufacturing and assembly of the most technologically advanced machinery in agriculture. Patrick holds a BA of Sociology from Arizona State University and an MBA with a concentration in International Management from St. Ambrose University
Richard is currently the founder, member, and CEO of Solare Holdings LLC, a holding company that operates various Solare businesses including, Solare Ventures Inc., Solare Capital LLC, Solare Inc., and Solare Trace Inc. Richard continues to be actively involved in these companies, as well as the startup and entrepreneurial community in the Central Coast of California and internationally, focusing on technology and agribusiness opportunities.
With currently more than 30 years of experience in international finance and business, he has provided advisory expertise on aspects of Corporate Governance/Compliance/Audit, Startup Investment/Acceleration, Business Consulting and Advisory consulting to US and International companies ranging in size from less than $2MM to greater than $5BN in annual revenue.
Richard serves on several business advisory committees and boards, (including California State University Monterey Bay – CSUMB, College of Business, Business Advisory Council) and is also involved with several charitable organizations helping children, animals, and the elderly. He was recently nominated for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society – Silicon Valley/Monterey Bay Man of the year in 2018 to help raise awareness and funding for blood cancer. The 2018 campaign raised in excess of $300,000 to fight blood cancer.
Richard is an emigre from South America holding several undergraduate degrees, and received his MBA in 1996, from MIIS in Monterey, CA.
Environmental Research & Conservation
This panel will focus on the current and emerging uses of drones, automation and robotics technology in environmental research and conservation of marine and watershed systems. Panelists represent leading edge research & development centers in the Monterey Bay region including: Dr. Becca Fenwick of UC Natural Reserve, Dr. Sean Hogan of UCANR, Tom Oreilly of MBARI and David Will of Island Conservation . Panel will be moderated by Dr. Andy Lyons of UCANR.
Dr. Andy Lyons is Program Coordinator for the Informatics and GIS Statewide Program in the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In this role he supports IGIS drone projects through flights, data analysis, teaching, and development of open source tools for data management and mission planning. An alumni of UC Berkeley, his research background is in wildlife ecology and he has taught classes at Berkeley and Stanford in spatial analysis using open source software, GIS, environmental problem solving, population modeling, cryptography, African studies, social justice, and sustainability.
Dr. Becca Fenwick is developing the CITRIS Initiative for Drone Education and Research (CIDER) at the University of California, Santa Cruz. This program brings together diverse students, researchers, and industry partners from many sectors to fuel research and innovation and develop a diverse drone workforce. She and the CIDER Team are working closely with UCSC partners, Hartnell Community College, Digital Nest, Monterey Bay DART, and many other regional partners to develop multiple pathways to develop the varied drone and automation workforce that will be needed around the region. Working with drones unites Fenwick’s varied skill sets: her geospatial expertise from a marine geology and geophysics doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego, her land conservation expertise from almost a decade as a reserve director for the UC Natural Reserve System, and her 15 years of environmental IT, tech and sensor network experience as the director of environmental IT for the UC Natural Reserve System.
David Will is the GIS manager for Island Conservation where his role has often been directed towards bridging the gap between conservation managers and technical specialists, ensuring that technical solutions can solve conservation problems and are serviceable in the field. These experiences include implementing technology in the field on more than 15 island restoration projects spanning from the sub-Antarctic to the tropical Pacific, and recently managing a successful $1.5 million restoration project on Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge, Puerto Rico. David’s previous work includes developing a UHF remote trap monitoring system to improve staff efficiency and response time, digital field data collection apps, and a Bayesian statistical metric framework for determining when eradications are complete.
Sean Hogan is the founder and Director of the IGIS Drone Service Center. He has extensive experience in a wide range of UAS drone mapping and data collection projects, and is an expert on several drone platforms. He is also the UC ANR designated authority for drone operations. Sean developed the IGIS drone workshop model combining theory, equipment familiarization, regulations, hands-on flight practice, and data processing and analysis. Sean received his PhD in Geography at UC Davis. He was also a member of the UC Davis Center for Spatial Technology and Remote Sensing, providing GIS and remote sensing support for interests in precision agriculture, monitoring natural resources and calibration of NASA’s airborne imagers. His favorite drone is the eBee Plus.
Tom is a software engineer at MBARI. His interests include software and applications for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and autonomous surface vehicles, including navigation and tracking, adaptive sampling, and development of small low-power cytometers and microscopes for use by microbial oceanographers. He is also interested in standard protocols for marine sensor interfaces and networks, and helped to standardize the OGC PUCK interface originally developed at MBARI. Tom has been working with science colleagues to use Android devices for “crowd-sourcing” and data acquisition applications.
Tom’s educational background is in geology and geochemistry. For most of his professional career he has been a software engineer, usually working on scientific applications. Prior to joining MBARI, Tom helped develop a spacecraft instrument known as the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (“TES”), which is designed to measure properties of the Martian surface and atmosphere from orbit around Mars. TES was successfully launched on November 7, 1996 as part of the Mars Global Surveyor mission payload, and arrived in Mars orbit on September 11, 1997. Tom also helped design the mission planning system for a joint US/Japan instrument known as “ASTER”, on the TERRA Earth-orbiting spacecraft.
Talent & Workforce Development
This panel will focus on the current and emerging drone, automation and robotics technology talent, education and workforce training programs and curriculum in and around the Monterey Bay region. Panelists represent leading talent, education & workforce development providers including: Dr. Rodrigo Nieto of the Naval Postgraduate School, Gerlinde Brady from Cabrillo College, Dr. Andrew Lawson, Dean of the College of Science at CSU Monterey Bay and Dr. Dejan Milutinovic from the Jack Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. Panel will be moderated by Digital Nest Founder & Executive Director, Jacob Martinez.
Dr Lawson serves as Dean of the College of Science at California State University, Monterey Bay. Our programs combine solid foundational work in the disciplines with hands-on field and laboratory skills that prepare graduates for work in various science and technology fields or for success in graduate and professional schools. It is an exciting time for the College as we add new degree programs and expand our offerings in existing programs. Our faculty are dedicated to the success of every student and inspire and challenge students through a wide range of experiences, from connecting with community partners through service learning, to engaging in world-class research, to placing students in valuable internships with leading industry and agency partners.
CSUMB and the Monterey Bay region offer students incredible opportunities to engage with our local community, our diverse environment and a wide range of clubs and activities. I encourage all of our students to embrace these opportunities, and challenge themselves with new experiences – to allow curiosity to drive them to explore new fields, and to dive deeply into a few. Because science and technology careers change so quickly, our goal in the College is for all of our graduates to be passionate, lifelong learners who will adapt, innovate and lead the way for the next generation.
Dejan Milutinovic is a Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Jack Baskin School of Engineering, UC Santa Cruz. Professor Milutinović earned Dipl.-Ing (1995) and Magister’s (1999) degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Belgrade, Serbia and a doctoral degree in electrical and computer engineering (2004) from Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon, Portugal. From 1995 to 2000 he worked as a research engineer in the Automation and Control Division of Mihajlo Pupin Institute, Belgrade, Serbia. His doctoral thesis was the first runner-up for the best PhD thesis of European Robotics in 2004 by EURON. He won the NRC award of the US Academies in 2008 and Hellman Fellowship in 2012. Prof. Milutinović is currently a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC Santa Cruz. His research interests are in the area of modeling and control of stochastic dynamical systems applied to robotics. He has served as an associate editor for multiple conferences and journals in the area of robotics and control (IROS, ICRA, ACC, DSCC), ASME Journal for Dyn. Sys. Mes. and Control, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters. He is currently a senior editor-at-large for the Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems, Springer.
Gerlinde Brady is the Dean for Career Technical Education (CTE) and Workforce Development at Cabrillo College. Gerlinde has been at Cabrillo College for 20 years, first as an instructor and department chair in the Computer and Information Systems department, and since 2016 as the Dean of CTE. She is a leader in regional collaborative CTE and workforce development projects aimed at improving outcomes for students and employers. The Netlab+ datacenter hosted at Cabrillo is one example of a regional project. This information and communication technologies (ICT) lab facility serves ICT students from colleges across the Bay Area and provides in-demand hands-on skills training needed for employment in the ICT sector. Gerlinde also focuses on career pathway development aligned with industry needs. Gerlinde obtained a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and a CTE certificate in teaching Information Technology courses in Germany, and a Masters Degree in Translation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Jacob Martinez is the Executive Director of the Digital NEST, a non-profit in Watsonville and Salinas, that CONNECTS youth to a skill-building community that TRANSFORMS them into professionals who can CREATE successful careers, innovative solutions and prosperous communities. Prior to establishing the Digital NEST in 2014, Jacob Martinez spent ten years leading innovative computer-based programs in California, with a particular focus on encouraging Latina girls to enter high tech fields. He is a frequent speaker at technology and educational conferences, and has been honored by business, community, and educational institutions for his innovation and leadership. He spoke in 2015 at the first White House Tech Meetup and was named by Tech Crunch as one of 2014’s Top 10 Men in the Country Supporting Women in Technology.” In 2015 was named Santa Cruz County Entrepreneur of the Year by the Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce and in 2018. He currently sits on the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Council and actively looks for ways to engage UCSC alumni to opportunities. He received his undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from UC Santa Cruz and a master’s from Cal State University, Monterey Bay.
Public Safety/Homeland Security
This panel will focus on the current and emerging uses of drones, automation and robotics technology in public safety and homeland security. Panelists represent leading edge growth companies, startups & practitioners including: Joshua Resnick of Parallel Flight Technologies and Nicole Amsler of CAPE Telepresence. Panel will be moderated by Dr. Rodrigo Nieto of the Naval Postgraduate School.
Joshua is a founder and CEO of Parallel Flight Technologies which is developing new propulsion technology for heavy-lift, long-duration unmanned systems. The target applications are firefighting, public safety, and remote logistics.
Before coming to California, he lived in Alaska for 12 years where he designed hybrid power systems for commercial fishing vessels. These systems were designed to survive in the world’s most challenging industrial marine conditions. During this time he was the PI for a combined Federal and State of Alaska grant (Emerging Energy Technology Fund) aimed at exploring hybrid power for commercial marine vessels. Working on this project, he led a small team which developed a novel Variable Speed diesel Generator (VSG) technology and hybrid propulsion drive system. The engineering focus was on enhancing fuel economy, power-density, and modular design.
Following this grant project, he led electrical engineering and system architecture for the Tesla Semi Truck Program from the early prototype phase through the Alpha reveal. This work was done over a three-and-a-half-year time frame. In addition to leading electrical engineering for this program, he developed the mechanical systems for power steering and air compression.
Joshua graduated in 2001 from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a BS EE.
Nicole Amsler is Vice President of marketing at Cape, the leading cloud platform for smart aerial intelligence, providing secure, real-time visualization that increases productivity and operational efficiency and improves safety for organizations including public safety, oil & gas, utilities and telecom. With more than 20 years of marketing experience, Nicole has held senior executive marketing positions at both small and large tech organizations in the bay area. She has a BS in Aeronautical Engineering, a MS in Chemical Engineering and an MBA. Nicole also holds three patents to her name.
Dr. Rodrigo Nieto is a geostrategist and defense futurist focused on the consequences of the accelerating pace of change in homeland security and policing environments. He is a research professor at the National Security Affairs Department and at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School and he is also a certified facilitator for the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and an instructor at the Executive Academy of the Emergency Management Institute. He is also a faculty member of Singularity University.
Dr. Nieto has a Ph.D. in Geopolitics from the French Institute of Geopolitics of the University of Paris. He holds a J.D. from the State University of San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
For a decade, Dr. Nieto has taught hundreds of high ranking law enforcement, military, and homeland security leaders how to create and execute strategies to transform their agencies to meet the requirements of rapidly changing environments and threat profiles. As an innovation expert and an academically trained geostrategist, he has built a reputation as an expert on future threats to national security and policing and how to confront them.
Dr. Nieto has multiple publications describing the adaptation capacities of global organized crime, the public policy challenges of innovation and entrepreneurship in government and homeland security, asymmetric warfare and cybersecurity.
Dr. Nieto has been recognized as one of the top 5% performing faculty members at NPS and had the honor of winning on two occasions the NPS LCDR David L. Williams Outstanding Professor Award.
His native language is Spanish and has bilingual proficiency in English, full professional proficiency in French and elemental knowledge of German.
As an aviation enthusiast, he holds a private pilot certificate.
Urban Air Mobility
This panel will focus on the current and emerging urban air mobility market which stands to significantly affect the way we access inter-city air travel. Panelists represent cutting edge companies and research institutions focused on the space including: Scott Berry of Joby Aviation and Adam Cohen of the UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center. The panel will be moderated by Josh Metz of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority.
Adam Cohen is a transportation futurist and researcher at the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Since joining the group in 2004, his research has focused on innovative urban mobility solutions, including urban air mobility, shared mobility, urban goods delivery, automation, smart cities, smartphone apps, and other emerging technologies. Cohen recently completed two exploratory studies of the opportunities and challenges of Urban Air Mobility using electric vertical take-off and land (eVTOL) aircraft for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Toyota Motor Corporation. He has also co-authored numerous articles and reports on innovative mobility in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. Previously, Cohen worked for the Information Technology and Telecommunications Laboratory (ITTL) at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). His academic background is in city and regional planning and international affairs.
Josh Metz is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Monterey Bay DART Initiative, which grew out of his tenure as Economic Development Manager, then Executive Officer at the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA). In those roles, Josh worked with multiple public and private sector partners to advance regional recovery from the economic impact of the 1994 Fort Ord base closure. Josh was instrumental in securing the Joby Aviation presence at the Marina Airport, and continues to work to realize a robust DART-related innovation ecosystem in the Monterey Bay and greater Central Coast region. Most recently, Josh led the development of a James Irvine Foundation funded workforce development pilot project with Joby Aviation and CSU Monterey Bay. Along with supporting the continued growth of the Monterey Bay DART Initiative, Josh also serves as a Senior Economic Development Advisor to local agencies, public universities and non-profits with the Regional Government Services Authority. He holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from UC Berkeley, and completed post-graduate research in spatial data systems and remote sensing at UC Santa Barbara.
Scott Berry oversees the certification and flight test of a revolutionary new aircraft being developed by Joby Aviation, a startup based in Santa Cruz, CA. The S4 carries 5 people, can take off vertically like a helicopter, fly fast like an airplane, and is exceptionally quiet and safe. Our goal is to save a billion people an hour of driving per day.
Scott has spent his entire life in aviation, flying with his father as a child, building and flying his first remote control Piper Cub at age 6, and earning his private pilots license in his father’s Stearman biplane at age 17. After college, Scott had two goals: build a kitplane out of composites and work for an aviation company developing advanced composite aircraft. This led him to the Mojave Desert where he built the kitplane and began working for General Atomics, developing advanced unmanned aircraft at their R&D flight test facility. Scott worked in advanced composite manufacturing, project engineering, and eventually led the project engineering and design engineering development teams.
After 12 years of becoming frustrated with his ever worsening commute through the desert, Scott started a small company with aspirations to develop an electric VTOL aircraft that he could use to get to work. This led him to Joby Aviation where he walked in to buy an electric motor and unexpectedly, walked out with a job. At Joby Aviation, Scott is responsible for the certification and flight operations of its vehicles and company culture. Scott is an active commercial helicopter and fixed wing pilot.. He earned a
Mechanical Engineering degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is blessed with 5 amazing children. He plans to improve the world through aviation and by being the best father possible.
Airspace Access 4:10-4:50pm
This panel will focus on the opportunities and challenges in safely and securely integrating unmanned systems into the National Air Space including a focus on emerging droneport networks. Panelists represent companies focused on solving this complex problem and regulators involved in airspace management including: Jeff Crechriou, Marina Municipal Airport Manager, Dr. Brandon Stark, Drone Safety Director at University of California, and Jeff Donohoe and Thomas Swoyer of Grandsky Development Corp. Panel will be moderated by Chris Bley of Airspace Integration.
Dr. Brandon Stark is the director of the UC Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety, and the appointed systemwide UAS authority, where he provides UAS expertise to all 10 UC campuses, medical centers, cooperative extensions and field stations across the state of California. He has led the integration of UAS within the University ecosystem, implementing the University’s UAS Safety Management System to support UAS research, classroom education, operator training, risk assessment and safety assurance. He is a strong advocate for the safe integration of UAS into the university ecosystem, enabling innovative projects while balancing risk and campus safety.
Chris Bley is a Santa Cruz-based serial entrepreneur and co-founder of drone innovation hub, Airspace Integration. Chris has been active in the wind energy industry for 19 years since founding Rope Partner, a rope access service company located in Santa Cruz. Rope Partner currently has 10 supporting staff and 90 technicians that use rope access on utility scale wind turbines throughout the world for inspection, maintenance and repair. In 2012 cofounded InspecTools, to apply emerging drone, database and software capabilities in solving wind energy, solar and utility industries problems. Following years of InspecTools was acquired by PrecisionHawk in September of 2018,, who continues to develop unique solutions in the Monterey Bay region. Chris is currently focused on several additional drone related projects including Monterey Bay DART (a non-profit focused on supporting and connecting drone innovators), Insight Up Solutions (drone and sensor resale) and AirSpace Integration (provides shared work spaces, air spaces and training). These companies are located in the Monterey Bay region, La Selva Beach and the Marina Airport. Chris holds a BA in Biology from UC Santa Cruz.
Jeff Crechriou is the Airport Services Manager for the City of Marina, where he manages the federal grant process for the Marina Municipal Airport and has extensive experience working with external agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Cal Trans, Monterey County and other Monterey Bay regional airports. Mr. Crechriou manages $3,426,000 in federal and state grant funding. Mr. Crechriou joined the City of Marina in 2005 as a Finance Analyst, and has served as Management Analyst for the Redevelopment and Economic Development Divisionand Acting Economic Development Manager.
Mr. Donohoe has more than 25 years’ experience in the financial analysis of real estate development projects and small business operations. Mr. Donohoe has completed dozens of real estate market studies, financial feasibility studies, redevelopment plans and real property appraisals. He also has extensive experience in the analysis of land, buildings and utility systems associated with the redevelopment of several former military bases. His experience includes work on numerous military installations throughout the United States which have been closed under the Base Realignments and Closure Acts since 1988, including more than seventy different Army, Navy and Air Force installations.
Mr. Donohoe was the lead consultant in evaluating the market and financial feasibility of the Grand Sky project. Grand Sky is a 217-acre business park focused on the rapidly growing Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS, or “drones”) sector. Grand Sky is being developed on land at Grand Forks Air Force Base, leased from the Air Force by Grand Forks County, and then subleased to the Developer. The project was implemented via an Enhanced Use Lease (EUL), the first-of-its-kind unsolicited publicto- public EUL in the Air Force’s portfolio.
Mr. Donohoe managed a team of subcontractors to evaluate legal issues, complete a survey of the property, conduct an Environmental Assessment on behalf of the Air Force, and to prepare conceptual site plans and development strategies. Mr. Donohoe also prepared market and financial information to support the County’s proposal to lease the property from the Air Force. As a licensed Realtor, Mr. Donohoe was subsequently retained as the exclusive broker for marketing Grand Sky.
Tom lives to turn airports into “droneports.” His career in infrastructure development began with building reuse projects for the military. Since 2015, Tom has led the development of Grand Sky, the nation’s first commercial UAS droneport. From fund-raising and operations to marketing and tenanting, Tom has engaged in every aspect of growing Grand Sky from concept to operating the droneport, generating over $19 million per year in economic impact. Grand Sky seeks to grow its network from a single location to five or more that will create a network for point-to-point UAS flights. Grand Sky is positioned to be the first commercial UAS operator for large UAS systems in support of energy, agriculture and emergency management.
*Panel topics and speakers subject to change.