In just 5 days, on Wednesday, June 3, Fargo will host a first-of-its-kind Drone Focus Conference at the Fargo Jet Center. All drones, all day. Spurring from the successful monthly Drone Focus meet-ups held by local unmanned aircraft system (UAS) startup Botlink, the purpose of the Drone Focus Conference is to gather professionals and enthusiasts to talk about drones – and maybe do a little showing off too.
“We bring private and public sector folks in, from the beginners to the most experienced in UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and discuss ideas and industry issues,” said Al Winmill, Botlink’s marketing manager.
Although the initial idea for a Drone Focus Conference came about in March, things really buckled down when the Fargo Jet Center came alongside Botlink and Emerging Prairie in planning the event. Together, the conference was put together in a single month.
“When the Fargo Jet Center team joined, we realized we could have a powerful, half day experience to showcase drone companies, users and enthusiasts from all over in a really unique setting without months of planning,” Winmill said.
The event is sponsored primarily by RDO Integrated Controls, as well as Fargo Moorhead Convention and Visitor’s Bureau , Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC, NDSU Research & Tech Park , and UND Aerospace Foundation.
Drone Focus Conference Agenda
For attendees, the day will go a little like this: the day, a Wednesday, will kick off with Botlink CEO Shawn Muehler giving an update on their progress at 1 Million Cups that morning. This is followed by a tour of the award-winning Fargo Jet Center, and a kick-off talk by North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Brian Opp, who has been highly influential in pushing the UAS industry forward on a statewide level.
The bulk of the day will then feature a variety of speakers, including Bob Becklund, the Director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, John Nowatzki from NDSU’s agricultural and bioengineering department, Matt D. Hayes of RDO Integrated Controls, and Jinger Zeng from Skyworks Aerial Systems, a startup that specializes in creating drones for educational, research and enterprise applications in Las Vegas.
Build-a-drone & Battle Bots
But it’s more than just talk. The planning committee wanted to make the Drone Focus Conference more hands-on, so after a few keynotes attendees will have a chance to actually build a drone.
“They’ll be able to learn about a drone’s components and inner workings,” Winmill said.
Following that is…drumroll please…the first ever Drone Olympics. This, according to Winmill, will be “a Battle Bots inspired drone dogfight” put together by our friends at Field of View in Grand Forks.
Such a thing could only happen in a state like North Dakota, which is currently leading the nation as far as drone regulations and legal flying space. Winmill and all the organizers of the conference are hoping to use it to showcase how the state is moving forward as a hub for the UAS industry.
“North Dakota has all the right pieces in place to keep the lead in the UAV race: support from government leaders, lots of open airspace and FAA regulation help…and innovative companies pushing the industry forward,” Winmill said. “We are lucky to bring them all together in Fargo for DroneFocus’ monthly meetups and this conference!”
There are still spots at the Drone Focus Conference! Sign up today, here.
Photos courtesy of Marisa Jackels and Pixabay.