Title: Adjunct Faculty, School of Unmanned Technology

Highest degree and school: B.S. in Aeronautics with a Specialty in UAS, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Teaching at SDI since: 2022


James has been a long time radio controlled aircraft enthusiast since he was young and has been in the commercial UAS industry since 2014. He has held multiple positions in the industry including UAV Flight Operator, UAV flight Instructor, Training Manager, Curriculum Developer, Flight Test Engineer/Operator, and Maintenance Technician. Many of these positions were at companies such as Strategic Aerospace International, Vayu Aerospace Corporation, Flirtey, and most recently Volansi. James has been involved in multiple drone focused applications. From the development and use of delivery drones to critical infrastructure inspections and security, having operated UAS throughout the United States and Internationally in countries such as Senegal, Papua New Guinea, and Malawi. He enjoys teaching and seeing others reach “the moment of realization” and it all begins to make sense to those looking to learn. That smile and recognition when the individual understands the simplicities or complexities of a new skill realized. To recognize their own progression and use that knowledge in the future. He believes that the more people we infuse with further knowledge, the more progress we can make as a whole. He considers collaboration and accommodation as keys to enabling success in ourselves and in others. In the Civil Air Patrol he learned the importance of continuous learning and strives to follow the motto of Ancora Imparo (I am still and always learning). With this desire coupled with the constant learning involved naturally with unmanned aircraft systems he wanted to be involved more directly with training and education.

While working in the drone delivery space most commonly involved with flight testing and flight operations he kept an eye out for opportunities to become more involved in training others about drone technology. James came across an adjunct faculty for UAS position posting for SDI in early 2022 and having heard mention of SDI from some of my colleagues before about SDI’s firearms program to which his colleagues spoke highly of. He jumped in and became an adjunct instructor for the SUT Flight test course. Shortly after joining He got to meet and work with many of the SDI team. He made quick notice of their desire to excel and improve the student experience, and expand the program further. “What stood out to me the most was their clear passion for wanting to ensure a good student experience while providing information in the technology that was above and beyond the standard requirement to get started and be successful in the UAS industry.I knew during this time frame I wanted to be even more part of the SDI team and was given the opportunity to do so. I am glad to be part of a team that drives and focuses so much on the clear and expansive education of a technology that has great and proven potential to help many.”

When he’s not working with drones he finds himself enjoying and spending time teaching himself new skills that are of interest, most time relational and used in the UAS industry. Such as learning how to program simulation software suites for drones and diving deeper into learning automation programming for certain autopilot program sub–routines. When he’s not learning new skills, he’s often away from a computer screen getting some fresh air, hiking in the mountains throughout Arizona, planning the next travel adventure, trying new dishes to cook from the countries visited in the past, 3-D printing new CAD designs, listening to podcasts and audiobooks about past civilizations, and playing board games and video games with friends and family across the country.