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News & Notes

2017 Women to Watch in UAS List

View the nine women being honored for significant work in the drone industry

August 29, 2017

Drone360 and Women And Drones are pleased to announce the 2017 Women to Watch in UAS List. Nine tech-savvy women from around the world were selected for their work disrupting, innovating, and shaping the future of the UAS (unmanned aerial systems) industry. This is the first of an annual list designed to highlight exceptional women from across the UAS world.

“The Women to Watch in UAS List emphasizes the integral role of women in the success of the drone industry. We’re striving for a not-distant future where UAS leads science fields by offering equal opportunities for women to succeed as they demonstrate their abilities alongside their male counterparts,” says Sharon Rossmark, founder and CEO of Women And Drones.

The call for nominations attracted 110 submissions from seven different countries. The judging process included a final-round review by industry insiders, resulting in a list of nine winners from various sectors of the drone industry.

the drone industry.

Tim Kidwell, editor of Drone360, says,"These women and their organizations are impacting the evolution and application of drone technology around the world; they truly are Women to Watch. The variety of applications of UAS technology is truly incredible. We hope that, by raising awareness of the strength and vision of these women, we'll encourage others in the UAS industry as well as other sciences to give women equal opportunities to innovate and succeed."

The women named to the list are, by category:

Business: Holly Kasun (U.S.)
Flybrix, co-founded by Kasun, makes drones kits that use LEGO® bricks. Because they’re easy to assemble and crash-friendly, they encourage the drone-curious to learn what it takes to create and fly drones. She hopes to engage STEM students with drone technology in an accessible, fun way.

Champion: Mary Wohnrade (U.S.)
Wohnrade champions the use of UAS technology in civil engineering, and has developed a proprietary workflow to incorporate the two fields. She has a personal enthusiasm for the use of drones, but is also eager to share the technology with others and advance UAS technology for the betterment of society.

Education: Karen Joyce (Australia)
A scientist and university lecturer who specializes in environmental mapping and monitoring, Joyce is also the cofounder of She Flies, which engages women and girls in STEM through drones. The organization offers programs for teachers, parents and grandparents, corporate organizations, and school groups to encourage girls to challenge gender stereotypes in science and technology.

Emerging: Lexie Janson (Poland)
Through her tenacity and her sheer love of flying, Janson has become a high-profile racer and is working to raise the profile of drone racing. In her first steps in the field she battled sexism, but stayed strong to set a positive example for other women in the drone industry.

Entertainment & Culture: Natalie Cheung (U.S.)
Cheung is establishing a brand-new form of entertainment: drone light shows. She points out that those shows don't use lasers, projection mapping, or some other technology — they are drones in the sky, all controlled by one person. Cheung also sees opportunity to extend this technology beyond entertainment to important areas like search-and-rescue operations.

Global Trailblazer: Catherine Ball (Australia)
Ball is a startup specialist working hard to build bridges, convene the UAS community, and advance innovative solutions in the UAS environment. She is a driver behind The World Drone Congress, the first major drone event to focus on the Asia-Pacific region, and cofounder of She Flies, which works to bring UAS and STEM learning to girls and women.

Humanitarian: Helena Samsioe (Sweden)
Samsioe and her drone services company are leveraging drone capabilities to solve global problems, particularly public health. She is passionate about using innovative technology to improve current health conditions around the world in a way no one thought possible.

Influencer: Gretchen West (U.S.)
West works to advocate for drones both through regulatory channels and inside the industry, promoting an understanding of drones’ potential for various types of end-users. She often focuses on drones and security, and works directly with the federal government on policy and technology solutions that will open the drone market for broader commercial use.

Technology: Leah La Salla (U.S.)
La Salla's startup, Astral AR, is developing drones that can be controlled with the mind (!) with a focus on drones-for-good activities. Her company holds patents on a variety of drone technologies with the hope of advancing the lifesaving capabilities of agencies and teams responding to emergencies.