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Summer 2015 - Present


To architect and execute product development exercises while working at Straight Up Imaging and Hitec.

  • Overall product design

  • Conceptual and detail design

  • CAD modeling

  • Manufacturability and serviceability

  • Multidisciplinary engineering

  • Project management

  • Injection molded part design

  • Supply chain management

I joined Straight Up Imaging as a co-founder in 2015, while still working at Northrop Grumman. Our mission was to create versatile unmanned systems built in the United States. At the time, this area of the industry was even more underserved than it is now.

Our first design was the Endurance, a mid-sized quadrotor that could be easily customized for various payloads and applications.

As the most technical member of the SUI team, I was entirely responsible for the design, prototyping, manufacturing, and testing of Endurance aircraft. Nevertheless, we progressed fairly quickly from concept to production. The first configurations available to customers were fitted with nadir-facing Sony QX1 cameras for photogrammetry. They were even capable of uploading images for cloud processing in real time via a 4G LTE network connection.

SUI gained some high-profile customers from the start, including NASA JPL for airborne gas detection research and NASA Ames for aerodynamic modeling. The Endurance still appears in research papers due to the wealth of CAD, acoustic, and wind tunnel data collected during the original test campaign.

The Endurance saw updates to its design, avionics, and payloads over time. The most significant came when a smart battery, new payload interface, and higher performance power system were added in 2017. At this point, I had also designed and built a new handheld ground station featuring a digital data link. 


When Hitec Commercial Solutions acquired Straight Up Imaging, the Endurance became a Hitec product. This enabled higher production volumes and increased development spread across a larger team of hardware and software engineers. The system continues to be offered in several payload configurations for commercial, defense, and public safety applications while many of the original design elements remain in place.

Before the acquisition, I had an opportunity to work on another UAS project for Hitec. SUI was contracted to perform design work on the Xeno FX platform, a concept for a foldable fixed wing UAS for large area photogrammetry. 

The Xeno would need all-new tooling, which presented a unique opportunity for me to perform a fresh aerodynamic design. The airfoils, twist, and planform are all optimize for efficient cruise at a suitable speed for aerial imagery.

Through designing the Xeno's many foam and plastic parts, I developed a working knowledge of design techniques required for injection molding.

This made it possible to pull off some cool tricks as well. By making the wings hollow, marks for injection point and steam holes could be placed in an area that'd never interact with the airstream. Further, the fuselage pod geometry enabled tight interaction between the payload, smart battery, and custom avionics board.

The Xeno FX remains one of the most interesting projects I've worked on. It's rare to get a chance to fully design, manufacture, and ship a fixed-wing UAS that includes so many materials, processes, and features. Plus, the autonomous mission planning and data processing features developed by other members of my team make it a powerful platform with class-leading UX for fixed wing UAS.

Over the lifespan of the product, I've continued to perform mechanical integrations for new payloads, peripherals such as incident light sensors, and general airframe improvements. I also oversee flight test of new feature developments and perform customer log analysis.

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