Title: Managing Director, Dean School of Unmanned Technology

Highest degree and school: Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, University of New Mexico;
Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering, US Air Force Test Pilot School

Managing Director and Dean since: 2020

John Minor is the Managing Director and Dean of SDI’s School of Unmanned Technology. A proud veteran of the US Air Force, he served 28 years as a systems specialist, flight test engineer, and flight test master instructor before transitioning to higher education. His fascination with airplanes and flight began when he was a small child. His father served in the Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the US Air Force, in World War II, so John found it a natural fit to join the Air Force after high school. But he says the role of an educator always called to him, leading him to teach at the Air Force Test Pilot School to combine his two passions. He eventually continued this in the civilian sector; before coming to SDI, he was president and CEO of American Eagle Aerospace. He was also a founding member of Unmanned Vehicle University, where he served as provost and chief academic officer.

John first became acquainted with SDI when he was at UVU, when he started working with SDI president Traci Lee regarding help with accreditation standards. During this time, John was deeply impressed by the character of the leadership team at SDI, as well as the school’s commitment to providing outstanding service to veterans and the active-duty military. When SDI transitioned to an employee-owned company, John said, “Every employee I talked with exhibited pride of ownership and commitment to the student educational experience.” When an opportunity came to join the SDI family in late 2020, he jumped at the chance: “I already knew that SDI was an organization I would be proud to belong to.” He feels that education is a lifelong pursuit, and says he loves being able to pass along what he has learned to the next generations; “There is nothing more satisfying than to see your former students go on to make great contributions to the industries they have chosen.”

When he’s not out flying drones or building connections with industry leaders, John tries to spend as much time as he can with his wife and family. He especially likes warm weather, so for him, a perfect day would be a summer day spent outdoors with his grandchildren. He is also very interested in genealogy and what he calls “the magic of DNA” – after growing up as an only child to adoptive parents, he was recently able to use testing and DNA databases to find his biological history and meet his brother and two sisters!