Our UAS Experience

North Dakota is a thriving ecosystem of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in public and private use. Through the development of Vantis, a statewide network enabling UAS flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), it is poised to become the nation's epicenter of commercial UAS activity. Vantis is the first such program of its scale in the United States.

Our UAS Experience

Reducing Barriers to Success

The state has taken the lead through capital investment and infrastructure, while facilitating regulatory approvals and commercial applications. Vantis' team brings together leaders with decades of aviation, telecommunication and government experience in fostering innovation and reducing barriers to success.

Reducing Barriers to Success

Diversifying North Dakota's Economy

The uses for UAS are growing exponentially, and North Dakota has played a leadership role from the start. In the past decade, the state's UAS industry has grown from several dozen workers to more than 1,000. UAS act as the connectors of the sky and serve to diversify ND's economy. Railroads brought prosperity. So will UAS.

Diversifying North Dakota's Economy

Our Team

Trevor Woods

Trevor Woods

Executive Director

A visionary team needs visionary leadership. Trevor never asks if the next advancement in the industry is possible - he asks how we get there. He began his career at the forefront of UAS research and testing and was a part of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site's inception. His work has facilitated advancements in C2 and DAA technologies and BVLOS operations, helping develop the original concept for Vantis. He led the test site participation in the FAA's IPP, now the BEYOND program, and served as the Lead in the FAA's BVLOS ARC Working Group 2.1. Trevor has always pushed us beyond the bounds of possible.

James Cieplak

James Cieplak

Program Manager

Aviation, both manned and unmanned, has been shaped by Jim. He's spent 25 years developing and implementing advanced aviation-systems technology, including early work on the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and next-gen air traffic control technologies. More recently, Jim helped commercial efforts to facilitate the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS). North Dakota's intention to build out a statewide BVLOS network to enable commercial UAS flights tempted Jim away from Alaska's Last Frontier to the newest UAS frontier: right here on the prairie.

Everett Dunnick

Everett Dunnick

Deputy Program Manager

Building something that has never existed before requires a combination of outlandish vision and steadfast realism. Everett is no stranger to this - he led the General Atomics team that achieved the first BVLOS flight under civil authorities, and oversaw the first civil trans-Atlantic flight with a UAS, both in partnership with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. Between his commercial experience and his 23 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, Everett brings to Vantis all of the pragmatism and procedural thinking necessary to turn big ideas into groundbreaking realities.

Michael Casey

Michael Casey

Project Manager

After several years working in retail and supply chain management, specializing in process implementation and improvement, Mike has returned to his first love: aviation. His bachelor's degree in aeronautics paired with his experience managing people and processes allowed him to transition smoothly into the fast-evolving world of UAS. His work directing large-scale operations and system upgrades make him a perfect fit to oversee the myriad moving pieces and advanced technologies in a groundbreaking project such as Vantis.

Chris Theisen

Chris Theisen

Director of Research & Development

A researcher at heart, Chris is the mastermind behind some of our boldest ideas. He's been involved in UAS research for nearly 15 years. His earliest work focused on ground-based Sense and Avoid, and has come to encompass Detect and Avoid, cooperative airspace, UAS support infrastructure, UAS Traffic Management, and other areas aimed at facilitating UAS integration into the NAS. These areas of research are instrumental in making complex BVLOS operations possible.

Erin Roesler

Erin Roesler

Director of Operations

Looking for UAS expertise? Look no further. In addition to her Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics and Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology, Erin holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate, CFII and MEI certificates, and a Remote Pilot Certificate. She is active in industry standards bodies, including ASTM, RTCA, and ANSI UAS Standardization Collaborative. She is a former adjunct lecturer for the University of North Dakota Department of Aerospace and developed a UAS training course curriculum for Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, AFRL PRINCE MQ-1/9 RPA Simulator, and various sUAS. Erin wrote the book on UAS operations - literally.

Danielle Miller

Danielle Miller

Interim Director of Safety

Danielle is a problem-solver. From her previous work in environmental geology to her current work in UAS, Danielle is used to being approached with complex requests and mapping her way to a solution. Danielle sees the big picture and the little details required to fully understand an issue - that's why she has been instrumental in managing the initial deployment and testing of the Vantis network as well as North Dakota's participation in the FAA's Integration Pilot Program, now BEYOND. As the interim safety director, she's set her sights on safer skies - which is good news for everyone.

Julie Theisen

Julie Theisen

Director of Business & Program Mgmt

Julie has spent her entire career looking toward the skies. She began in meteorology, and was instrumental in coordinating, expanding, and optimizing the Meridian multi-state 511 system to improve public safety. It's no surprise, then, that she transitioned to working in the UAS industry, using her particular skills in managing teams, keeping day-to-day operations running smoothly, and fine-tuning contracts and budgets to push us toward safer skies.

Ryan Steenerson

Ryan Steenerson

Partner Engagement Manager

With more than twenty years' experience in sales, Ryan knows that business is about building relationships. For him, the customer experience is about making a connection, understanding someone's needs, and helping them reach their goals as a trusted partner. UAS developments have the potential to dramatically improve the way many industries operate, and with change often comes uncertainty. In a rapidly evolving industry, and in an organization at the forefront of those changes, Ryan is a fixed point, investing in relationships and providing expert guidance.

Discover the Capabilities

Talk to us about programs and projects Vantis can make fly.

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