Member of the Year

2016 - Lauren McCollum

Lauren McCollum chairs AUVSI’s Advocacy Committee which steers public policy engagement with lawmakers, regulators, and industry stakeholders. Her tireless dedication to the association and the unmanned systems industry has earned her AUVSI’s Member of the Year.

During the very busy 2015, Lauren created a Technical Advisory Subcommittee of top subject matter experts to formulate AUVSI’s response to the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making on Small UAS. She also recommended the board of directors establish the AUVSI Political Action Committee to support congressional candidates who appreciate the concerns of the unmanned systems community. She led the transition of the Advocacy Committee from an ad hoc to a standing committee, underscoring the critical role of advocacy in AUVSI’s strategy.

An experienced government relations professional for aerospace and defense contractors, Lauren is director of Legislative Affairs for Intelligence, Joint and Science and Technology Programs at Lockheed Martin. She previously worked in government relations for Raytheon, TRW and Northrop Grumman. Lauren personifies AUVSI’s goal to be the undisputed advocate and voice for the robotics and unmanned systems industry, and this award is in recognition of her significant contributions and achievements.

2015 - J.C. Coffey, director of unmanned systems, Cherokee Nation Technologies

JC Coffey

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is one of the government agencies most active in using unmanned aircraft, and John “JC” Coffey is one of the most vocal proponents for expanding their use and promoting the results.

Coffey is director of unmanned systems at Cherokee Nation Technologies, responsible for leading the company’s efforts to support UAS integration and operations.

He works directly with NOAA to help expand its use of unmanned 
aircraft — including the new Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) program that will study severe weather — and is instrumental in aiding with AUVSI road shows to get the word out about positive UAS uses.

JC is active in the local D.C. AUVSI chapter, never missing an event, and has spoken at other chapter and AUVSI events. He encourages individuals and companies to join the association or upgrade their membership and volunteers for committees and focus groups in an effort to help position AUVSI for the future.

2014 - James Grimsley, president and CEO, Design Intelligence Inc. LLC

James Grimsley

James Grimsley has tirelessly led the charge in keeping Oklahoma UAS friendly by leading the grassroots efforts to defeat anti-UAS bills in the state legislature in 2013 and will likely be successful in the 2014 legislative session. Grimsley has organized AUVSI members and academics throughout the state to contact their state representatives, visit the capitol and conduct other grassroots activities. He has also written a number of op-eds in newspapers around the state promoting the economic and societal benefits of unmanned systems in Oklahoma. He has become the go-to person in Oklahoma for the media and the governor's office as someone both knowledgeable and passionate about unmanned systems. Grimsley was instrumental in coordinating AUVSI's visit and press conference with Gov. Mary Fallin when AUVSI did a road show visit in January 2013 to Oklahoma. The road show was a great success in part to Grimsley's connections with the governor's office and local press.

Perhaps Grimsley's biggest contribution to the industry was his instrumental role in establishing a voice for the unmanned systems community in the U.S. Senate. Through his dedication and persistence, he was able to enlist Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to establish the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus.

2013 - Paul McDuffee, Associate VP Government Relations and Strategy, Insitu, Inc.

Paul McDuffie

Paul McDuffee currently serves as the vice-chair of AUVSI's UAS Advocacy Committee, the chair of AUVSI's UAS Privacy Subcommittee, chair of AUVSI's ICAO UAS Technical Committee and formerly served on AUVSI's board of directors. In addition, McDuffee represents the UAS industry as the new co-chair of RTCA's Special Committee 228, subcommittee chair on ASTM's F-38 and he currently serves on the FAA's Aviation Rulemaking Committee. As if that weren't enough, McDuffee regularly participates on industry panels and is frequently quoted in the national media. McDuffee played an instrumental role in helping AUVSI craft the industry's first-ever UAS Code of Conduct, along with AUVSI's position on UAS privacy issues. Prior to getting involved with the UAS industry, McDuffee was a vice president and professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. McDuffee is a certified flight instructor, holds an airline transport pilot certificate and is qualified to fly jet type aircraft with more than 7,000 hours in the cockpit. McDuffee is a large reason for the success of AUVSI's advocacy efforts.

2012 - Ben Miller, Quartermaster; UAS Operations Manager at Mesa County Sheriff's Office

Ben Miller

Ben Miller created and now leads one of the pioneering UAS programs in law enforcement. He developed the UAS program, garnered numerous FAA approvals, and continues to operate UAS for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. The UAS program has six pilots and more than 140 flight hours now operating both rotor-craft and fixed wing systems. Through real world experience the project has developed many ground breaking concepts in the use of UAS in Public Safety that will help define the role of this new tool in agencies across the nation.

Ben has been an active and involved member of AUVSI. In addition to being a regular speaker and panelist for AUVSI events, he has provided important insight into what the law enforcement community needs to effectively field UAS. He has also volunteered to speak on three different panels at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America 2012. He’s always ready with a suggestion or insight to improve the sessions that he is participating in and is also willing to help point program staff in the direction of other qualified experts.

Ben has also been one of AUVSI’s lead champions and spokespersons on UAS integration in the National Airspace in regards to the law enforcement community. He has done a number of interviews on behalf of AUVSI and also played a key role in developing AUVSI’s talking points and privacy policy.  Ben always takes the time to help sister law enforcement agencies across the country looking for more information about UAS.  Very few people have the operational knowledge, experience and credibility Ben Miller has.  AUVSI, the industry, and all of law enforcement owe this pioneer in UAS thanks.  Lives will be saved because of the path Ben Miller has blazed for public safety UAS.

2011 - Mark R. Patterson, Ph.D. Director, Autonomous Systems Laboratory

Mark Patterson

As director of the Autonomous Systems Laboratory (ASL) at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), Dr. Mark Patterson is an expert in designing and building free swimming autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). He has spent more than a decade designing and building AUVs for oceanic research, marine life observation, and counter-AUV operations for security applications.

Dr. Patterson serves as Technical Chair on AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2011 Program Committee. In this role, he is responsible for providing technical expertise across all of the unmanned systems domains. During the Technical Program development process earlier this year, Dr. Patterson was always available to provide an opinion or suggestion. He proved to be our most dedicated member by attending almost every program committee teleconference and dedicating time over the Christmas holiday to grade technical program proposals. Mark’s input regarding program panel sessions and general session speakers has been instrumental in ensuring every aspect of AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2011 program is informative and valuable for our attendees.

In addition to his work on this year’s program committee, Dr. Patterson is also an avid supporter of AUVSI Foundation’s maritime student competitions. For the third straight year Mark worked tirelessly on onsite logistics and served as local host for the International RoboBoat Competition conducted in Virginia Beach this June. His work included recruiting and coordinating volunteer labor, acquiring equipment locally that could be borrowed, saving the foundation significant expense, and playing a major role onsite with the daily operations of the competition. Dr. Patterson is a strong proponent for both the RoboBoat and Robosub competitions and the interest they instill in college students to pursue careers in engineering, science and robotics.

Mark’s dedication to the Program Committee, the RoboBoat competition, and to AUVSI was unsurpassed in 2011.

2010 - Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs is responsible for uniting the unmanned system industry in Washington and Oregon states in order to create the Cascade Chapter of AUVSI in September of 2009. As president of this chapter over the last 8 months, he has already made it successful through several in-person chapter meetings in both Portland and Seattle. Attendance at some of these events has topped 150 people, resulting in increased corporate and individual AUVSI membership and participation.

He worked with Federal and local governments in both the US and Canada and brought together academia and industry to organize an unmanned systems technology cluster aimed at improving education and creating jobs. His recent efforts have focused on educating the local industry on civilian robotics/unmanned systems applications that include agriculture, healthcare and environmental protection. As business development manager for Northwest UAV Propulsion systems, he has worked tirelessly to advance the UV industry while supporting AUVSI through participation including sponsorship, exhibits, and membership and Chapter activities.