Advancements in technology and the miniaturization of electronics have enabled very capable aerial robots, or drones, as they are more commonly known. Drones come in a variety of sizes, form factors and have sophisticated preprogrammed capabilities and are readily available in the consumer market.

5 years ago, there was significant investment in the drone industry by venture capitalists. However, these bullish investments were in-large not well rewarded, since then many start-up companies have closed shop or struggled to survive with aggressive downsizing and major pivots in their business model. Why did this happen? What can we learn from this?

This talk will explore the topics and trends in the drone industry. Specifically, I will discuss the current state-of-the-art technology and what commercial industries have adopted drone technology and how it is being used today beyond the consumer market. Furthermore, I will share the trends in research and development in the field of drones and some future applications of this technology.

Similar to the engineering field, women and people of color are a minority in the drone industry. The drone industry is growing and a diverse set of skills and experiences are needed to address these challenges. There is a wide range of opportunities beyond software development or becoming a licensed pilot. I personally was a mechanical engineer and did my PhD thesis on microscale robotics before working at a start-up on autonomy for aerial robots. I will share how I got into the drone industry and how others have gotten into the drone industry (the paths are not linear!)

I hope the attendees will take away from the sessions a deeper understanding of the current state of the drone industry, where the opportunities are and if they are interested in getting involved, avenues in which they could explore to get into the industry.