Gold Rush or Realities? The Future of Drone Systems

What does the future hold for unmanned aircraft systems? Come join us for a presentation by Michel Guillaume, Professor and Director of the Centre for Aviation (ZAV) at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), where he and his team are working on answering some of these important questions.

Event Details


swissnex Boston
420 Broadway, Cambridge , Massachusetts 02138 United States


September 29, 2016 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm America/New York (UTC-05:00)



What does the future hold for unmanned aircraft systems?

Drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are capturing the imagination of many people with their widespread application. For others, they are a serious threat to airspace management and privacy. While it is clear that this technology is here to stay, important questions are waiting to be answered.

Come join us for a presentation by Michel Guillaume, Professor and Director of the Centre for Aviation (ZAV) at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), where he and his team are working on answering some of these important questions.

The unique Bachelor Degree Program in Aviation associated with ZAV, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, is an interdisciplinary program addressing complex and wide-ranging issues in the aviation sector under one roof. It links a broad variety of technologies, methods, and research fields with the goal of overcoming the challenges of future global mobility and researching ways to shape it more efficiently and securely.
Michel Guillaume will discuss the development of fixed wing UMARS drones, Remote Pilote Stations for drones and the project of a “Technology Study for Drones” in Switzerland, where in 2015 Swiss Post, Swiss WorldCargo and Matternet started jointly testing the commercial use of logistics drones.

Following Michel Guillaume’s presentation, a panel of experts moderated by Olivier de Weck from MIT’s AeroAstro department will discuss the future of autonomous aerospace science, ideas for unmanned aircraft integration in existing aerospace organization, and trends for payloads of unmanned aircraft systems for different applications (search and rescue, logistics, real estate agriculture, high altitude platforms to augment satellites, etc.).


Event Agenda

6:00 PM: Doors Open
6:30 PM: Michel Guillaume Presentation
7:00 PM: Panel Discussion
8:00 PM: Networking Reception
9:00 PM: Doors Close

Speaker Bios


Keynote Speaker & Panelist
Michel Guillaume is the Director of the Centre for Aviation (ZAV) and Professor for Systems Integration & Structrual Integrity at the School of Engineering of Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). Before that he worked for more than a decade at RUAG Aerospace, where at first he was project manager for the Swiss F/A-18 full scale fatigue test and then general manager of the Center Aerodynamics Large Wind Tunnel in Emmen. His expertise and research interests focus on aircraft design, aerodynamics, structural integrity, damage tolerance, and fatigue analysis.


Olivier de Weck is Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at MIT. His highly-impactful research focuses on the evolution and design properties of a wide range of complex man-made systems, such as air- and spacecraft, automobiles, and critical infrastructures. A former Swiss Air Force officer, he also holds degrees from both ETH Zurich (1993) and MIT (2001) and was liaison engineer and later engineer program manager at McDonnell Douglas’ F/A-18 aircraft program from 1993 to 1997.


Faine Greenwood is a Research Assistant for UAVs at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Signal Program. Ms. Greenwood coordinates the Signal Program’s research around the use of UAVs in humanitarian action. She was the co-author of the 2015 Drones for Aerial Observation primer for the New America Foundation, and took a leading role in researching New America’s accompanying UAV regulation and UAV case-study databases. She is currently actively involved in studying the development of regulatory and ethical frameworks for the responsible use of UAVs in multiple pre- and post-disaster contexts. Ms. Greenwood has an MA in Communications from Stanford University, and a member of the Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators). She is also an experienced amateur drone pilot and 3D map maker, including expertise in Drone Deploy software and related platforms.



Parker Vascik is a graduate student with the International Center for Air Transportation (ICAT) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an affiliate of the MIT Strategic Engineering Research Group (SERG). Vascik is a PhD candidate in Aeronautics & Astronautics and is completing a master’s degree in Technology & Policy. His research interests concern the development and application of systems engineering principles to inform decision making on complex socio-technical systems with uncertain futures. Working with the NASA UTM program in 2015, Vascik authored a review of the potential impact of operational constraints on the near-term markets for 135 UAS applications. Vascik’s current research portfolio explores holistic system integration challenges and mitigations for UAS and on-demand mobility aviation.


Rob Knochenhauer
is Director of Flight Operations at GreenSight Agronomics. He has 15+ years experience in complex electromechanical systems, primarily unmanned vehicles (ground, sea and air). Mr. Knochenhauer’s experience includes deep technical expertise in component and systems design engineering as well as the business acumen needed to successfully manage programs, build partnerships, author proposals, and win new business. At GreenSight Agronomics, Mr. Knochenhauer is working with the founders of the company to introduce a revolutionary new tool for turfgrass managers to efficiently apply resources (water & chemical treatments) through frequent assessments via a fully automated drone flying daily over the crop.


James Paduano is Director for Autonomy R&D at Aurora Flight Sciences. He has 10+ years experience in the private sector and has been at Aurora for over a decade. Prior to that Mr. Paduano was an Associate Professor at MIT’s AeroAstro Department and a Principal Research Engineer at MIT’s Gas Turbine Laborartory. A graduate of the University of Kansas, Mr. Paduano holds a doctorate from MIT in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Event Photos