Mark Aruja, Business and Policy Strategist

img_7984_2Mark Aruja has diverse experience in defence, government, industry and the not-for-profit sector spanning over 40 years, characterized by leading change. His boyhood dreams of flying were fulfilled with a 32 year aviation career in the Canadian Armed Forces ending with a number of senior appointments including Wing Commander. His first transformational change opportunity came early in his military career during the Cold War, in the arcane business of underwater acoustics, being part of a core team who dramatically changed the Canadian Navy’s approach to underwater warfare. Over the years, leadership on change initiatives varied, including laying the framework for dramatic reductions in air force personnel in the mid-1990s, creating the operational and political context for the Baltic Air Surveillance system and the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He created a number of defence space projects, including what would become Canada’s first operational defence space satellite, Sapphire. Mark closed his career by being selected to be the first Commandant of the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre where he established the first experimentation program with UAVs, and the start of his engagement with Unmanned Systems Canada.

Mark leveraged his operational and procurement experience in defence during 12 years as a Business Development Manager with Thales, a multinational company in the defence, aerospace and security sectors. He delivered numerous programs crossing a range of technologies to the Canadian Forces and other government customers including the first fleet of UAVs procured by the CF. He also contributed to the government’s review of defence procurement with inputs to key decision papers known as the Jenkins and Emerson reports.

Mr. Aruja’s first participation with USC was in 2003 at the inaugural annual conference, participating as an industrialist. He viewed this association as an invaluable vehicle to bring together the diverse parties necessary to create and realize transformational change opportunities. When he was voted to the Board, he championed the strategic focus of the association on civil and commercial UAS opportunities, now being realized in dramatic fashion. While there is much to be done in this sector, the next true leap for Canadian society promises to be in automated vehicles, where a new leadership team and network will need to be created.

Mark is an engineering graduate of the Royal Military College and has taken numerous courses over the years in aerospace systems, international security and in business management.

Vice Chair – Secretary

Kristopher Ellis, National Research Council of Canada

Chris EllisMr. Ellis received his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Carleton University in 1997,and since then has been working as a Research Officer at the National Research Council’s (NRC) Flight Research Laboratory. His areas of specialization include flight controls automation and handling qualities, as well as ‘sense and avoid’ for unmanned aircraft (and other airspace integration issues). Mr. Ellis has been actively involved in the development of standards and regulations for unmanned aircraft since 2006, when he first became a member of ASTM’s committee F38 on unmanned aircraft by assisting in the development of standards to support ‘file and fly’ operations of UAS. He was elected to the executive committee of ASTM F38 serving as recording secretary from 2008 to 2013. Mr. Ellis has also been active on several Canadian initiatives regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft including being a member of the 2007 UAV working group, the Beyond Visual Range working group, and most recently on the UAV program design group where he sits on the operations and airworthiness subcommittees.


Robert Aube, Kongsberg Geospatial

robert_aubeThroughout his whole life Robert Aubé has been an aviation enthusiast learning to fish on the float of a Cessna 185 at the age of 6 and doing his first water take-off and landing – sitting on a cushion – at the age of 8. He has been a licensed pilot since he was 18 years old. Mr. Aubé studied law and worked briefly as a paralegal and Registrar in the Ontario Office of the Attorney General, but left his legal career to fulfill his ambitions as a pilot. Mr. Aubé joined the Canadian Forces as a pilot, and flew military aircraft for 7 years until leaving the Canadian Air Force in the mid-1990’s. Mr. Aubé returned to school to pursue another passion, Information Technology. In the 20 years that followed, Mr. Aubé has applied his aviation and high-tech expertise in working as a Project and Product Manager, delivering mission-critical, real-time Command and Control systems. In 2007, Mr. Aubé was appointed VP of Engineering and Operations at Kongsberg Geopspatial, where he oversees the organization’s engineering, project delivery, and product management activities. Mr. Aubé is now leading the application and development of Kongsberg Geospatial’s military UAS expertise into the commercial UAS market.


Director Communications USC-STC
Paul Bennett, Aerobotika Aerial Intelligence Limited

Paul BennettFor 21 years Paul has been working in emerging technology integration for large enterprises in the mining, oil and gas, agriculture, and telecommunications sectors since 1995 with a focus on solving business problems with next generation solutions. With his experience and education in this area, he is armed with a strong toolset in planning, development, project management and technology lifecycle. Paul has also been involved in the custom design, construction, and operations of remotely piloted aircraft for more than 20 years and founded Aerobotika Aerial Intelligence to collaborate on UAV research and development, education, and community development. Aerobotika has grown to become one of the top UAS educators in Canada and is expanding internationally.

Director Government Relations USC-STC
Jeremy Byatt, ING Robotic Aviation

Jeremy ByattJeremy Byatt is Chief Operating Officer for ING Robotic Aviation. Previously, he worked in the United Arab Emirates as the Vice President, Environment for Bee’ah, a start-up now in full operation. In this role, he acted as the “green conscience” of Bee’ah and the community by setting the environmental standards and policies for Bee’ah’s activities and introducing a comprehensive environmental education program. Mr. Byatt’s team was responsible for future planning, policies and regulations and for conducting day-to-day environmental fieldwork and outreach. 

Jeremy’s knowledge of public affairs, marketing, energy and environmental issues comes from working at an executive level in several energy and professional service companies in Canada.   Byatt has garnered extensive experience around the world having worked as a public affairs executive and business manager in the private, public and non-governmental sectors. Before starting his private sector career, Jeremy worked as Policy Director of Friends of the Earth Canada during which time he led their international ozone depletion campaign. He was also an advisor to the United Nations Environment Programmes OzonAction programme and a member of the non-governmental advisory group to the Government of Canada climate change team.

Mr. Byatt holds an MA in International Affairs, specialising in environmental economics, from Carleton University in Canada. He also holds a postgraduate diploma in mechanical engineering, specialising in vehicle design, from the Cranfield Institute of Technology in the UK, as well as a BA in politics and economics from the Royal Military College of Canada. His academic qualifications were further enhanced when he received a certificate in Finance for Non-Financial Managers from Queen’s University School of Business in Canada. His first career was an infantry officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Diana Marina Cooper,  Senior Director, Legal and Policy Affairs at PrecisionHawk

Diana Cooper_PhotoDiana has recently joined PrecisionHawk as the Senior Director, Legal and Policy Affairs. Previously, she led the UAS & Robotics Practice Group at LaBarge Weinstein, a Canadian law firm specializing in the technology sector. Her practice there involved assisting clients in the UAS ecosystem including hardware manufacturers, software developers and service providers in navigating the regulatory framework and commercializing their products and services. She regularly presents on legal issues surrounding UAS including at conferences held by NASA, Unmanned Systems Canada, IEEE and Stanford University. Diana publishes a legal column focused on UAS in Robohub and has been quoted as an expert in UAS law by media outlets including Forbes, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail and CBC.

Alexander Harmsen, Iris Automation Inc.

Alexander Harmsen HeadshotThe last few years have seen Alexander Harmsen go from being the first programmer at Matternet, Silicon Valley’s medical drone package delivery start-up, to working for Airbus in Germany, MDA in Vancouver, Defence Research & Development Canada in Quebec and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Los Angeles. Fascinated by the intersections of aerial robotics, autonomous vehicles and real applications that will affect billions of people, Alexander is always looking for new ways to use these technologies to solve global issues. At school, he co-founded the UBC Unmanned Aircraft Systems engineering team and orchestrated change as the president of the UBC Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. From being involved in UBC’s Satellite Design team to earning his private pilot license, Alexander Harmsen is someone who does not like to let chances pass him by. As a young entrepreneur, Alexander’s commitment to unmanned aviation was recognized by Unmanned Systems Canada when he was awarded the Mark Cuss Scholarship a few years ago. From presenting a technical paper at a national conference, having formed a team to compete in the USC competition and starting up his own robotics company, Alexander has a wealth of directly relatable experience and knowledge to draw on and thus further USC’s ambitious agenda.

Sundeep S. Kharey, Tacteris Systems Inc

SundeepSundeep Kharey has been involved in the unmanned industry since 2005, first as an engineer for CDL Systems Ltd. and then as the company’s Business Development Manager. In 2012, following the acquisition of CDL Systems by Lockheed Martin, Sundeep served as the Manager of International Business Development. He implemented the corporate R&D strategy and led the development of several new products and services. He was instrumental in the ongoing development and execution of the company’s business strategy and led the company’s brand revitalization initiative.In 2007, he served on a Transport Canada working group tasked with developing regulations for UAVs in commercial airspace. He has severed as the Technical Interoperability chairman for Unmanned Systems Canada Conference and has presented on behalf of the NATO custodian for STANAG 4586. He is a licensed pilot and an aviation subject matter expert. Sundeep is presently employed by URS Corporation, a global engineering, design, and construction firm. Sundeep holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering and is a registered Professional Engineer. In 2006, he was awarded the Electrical Engineering Internship Merit Award and the Mike Ward Engineering Internship Award for his service to the engineering profession. He resides in Calgary with his wife and daughter.

Dr. Siu O’Young, Seamatica Aerospace

Siu O'Young_2Dr. Siu O’Young is the President of Seamatica Aerospace Limited in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Seamatica develops detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems to enable beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) missions for unmanned aircraft. He pioneered BVLOS flights over sparse airspace in 2007, participated in harsh-environment operations including the North Atlantic and the Canadian high Arctic, and have conducted 5+ years of (Detect and Avoid) DAA field experiments using two coordinated unmanned aircraft. Siu is a contributing member of the RTCA SC-228 work group on defining DAA standards in the United States, and an associate editor of the Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems. He has served on the Board of Unmanned Systems Canada (USC), NATO HMF-170 on Multi-agent Supervisory Control for unmanned systems, and the UAV Working Group at Transport Canada. He received his undergraduate degree from University of Saskatchewan and graduated with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo. He continued onto Oxford University, England designing control systems for nuclear power plants and military helicopters, prior to returning to Canada to join the University of Toronto. He is now a full professor at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, leading research on BVLOS infrared and acoustic DAA sensors, as well as synthetic aperture radars for small unmanned aircraft. He is also a Professional Engineer with 10+ years of industrial experience.

Frédérique Pivot, Athabasca University

Fred1Frédérique Pivot ( grew up in France, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Since her early childhood, she dedicated great passion for the Polar region, which largely influenced her coming to Canada and career choice as a remote sensing of snow scientist. Dr. Pivot is a tenured Assistant Professor of physical geography and remote sensing at Athabasca University, Alberta. Her main research focuses on developing enhanced observing systems capabilities (technology and algorithms) for monitoring the spatio-temporal dynamics of snow and ice. For the past few years, she looked into multi-stage remote sensing approaches using UAVs, for improving the collection of cryospheric information at different spatial scales and the retrieval accuracy of snow and ice parameters from space. Dr. Pivot also works on developing technological ways to innovate the online teaching and learning of geography. She is collaborating with computer scientists to implement field work into her courses by means of mobile technology-guided field trips and collaborative virtual geographic environments. In the last five years, Dr. Pivot has assembled several small fixed-wing and multi-rotor UAVs using off-the-shelf components. She has also received education and training to become a safe and responsible UAV operator. She obtained her first SFOC in September 2012.

Calvin Reich, Capri Insurance

Calvin ReichCalvin Reich has been involved in aviation since 1992. After always dreaming of being a pilot, he decided to get his private pilots license and then went on to complete his commercial license as well as his float, multi engine and IFR ratings. He has worked with companies such as Harbour Air Seaplanes, Alta flights Ltd. and Okanagan Skydive. He has also studied business at Okanagan University College and Simon Fraser University. Calvin has been with Capri Insurance for the past 14 years and has been involved in the aviation and UAV insurance for much of this time. Calvin has been a member of Unmanned System Canada and has been involved as a presenter in 2014 and again in 2015. He has also been very active in, and moderating a number of UAV discussion groups with respect to UAVs the SFOC process and the Exemption Rules.

Derek Scott, Provincial Aerospace

Derek-Scott - 2014-04-23Derek is the Vice President of Program Development for Provincial Aerospace and joined the Company in 1988, some 26 years ago after majoring in Computer Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland; a background which was used during his initial years to develop tactical data management systems for surveillance aircraft. During this tenure with the Company, he has held various progressive positions that were reflective of his broad base of advanced skill sets applicable to maritime surveillance operations and mission systems integration. He is a founding member and continues to serve on the board of the Aerospace and Defence Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. He also serves on the board for OceansAdvance, and participates in the Small-to-Medium Enterprise Committee of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI).

Charles Vidal, National Research Council Canada

Charles VidalCharles Vidal emerged as a leader in the unmanned systems field in 2004 when he founded the highly successful UAS student competition team VAMUdeS, at Université de Sherbrooke. During his studies, he led the group, developed UAVs and won competitions worldwide. Today, Charles continues to play a significant leadership role in the unmanned systems sector. Prior to joining NRC, he was director R&D and BD at KoptR and previously, he was Director, Solutions at ING Robotic Aviation where he lead a multi-disciplinary team creating the next generation of Canadian unmanned systems. He was highly regarded as the ScanEagle site lead and UAS Operator/Maintainer in Afghanistan. Charles also worked for Pratt & Whitney, Bell Helicopter, and CAE. As a volunteer, he has spent countless hours over the past 8 years as the chair of the Unmanned Systems Canada Student UAV Competition, maturing it into a highly-competitive, highly valued annual event. Charles brings a unique and valuable perspective to the USC board.  Few have the breadth of knowledge and experience gained from high intensity military operations to the latest operations in the civil sector including detailed dealings with Transport Canada and DND and performing UAS R&D.

Ex-Officio Board Members

Stewart Baillie, Aeronautics Consultant –  Past Chairman

Stewart BaillieAfter being raised in Calgary, Alberta, Mr Baillie received his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1981 and his Masters of Science in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in 1982. For over 30 years, Mr. Baillie worked at the Flight Research Laboratory of Canada’s National Research Council, serving as a Research Officer, a Program Manager and for 15 years as the Lab Director. During this period he also had a 9-month assignment to Industry Canada where he served as a Director within the Aerospace, Defence and Marine Branch. Mr. Baillie retired from NRC in January 2013 and is now an independent consultant.

Mr. Baillie’s expertise includes both fixed and rotary wing aircraft with special emphasis on aircraft operations, handling qualities and flight test. Since 2003 he was been the main proponent of UAS technologies at NRC and led the development of the NRC Civil UAS Program. He currently leads the Transport Canada subgroup to develop airworthiness regulations for UAS.

Mr. Baillie is a both a Fellow and a Councillor of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and has served as that organization’s President and as the Editor ofthe Canadian Aeronautics and Space Journal. He represented Canada in the NATO-RTO and its predecessor organization, AGARD and was a Canadian member of the International Congress of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS).

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for this event, Mr. Baillie was elected as a board member of Unmanned Systems Canada in 2012, and became Chairman of the organization in 2013 concluding his term in 2015.

Eric Edwards, Xiphos Technologies – Past Chairman

Eric EdwardsEric has been active in the field of unmanned aircraft since 1986.He has led the development of onboard flight control and payload control systems in several UAS programs ranging from micro-air vehicles to large, high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft. He is highly engaged with the rapid evolution of the commercial UAS sector, with an increasing focus on business management and investment. Eric was an active industry participant in Transport Canada’s first UAV Working Group from 2006 to 2007, which explored the changes required to the Canadian Air Regulations to introduce UAVs into civil airspace. In 2008 he was an invited member of the second working group that overhauled the SFOC process. Subsequently, he represented Canada’s industry sector in a steering committee that established the priorities and roadmap for regulatory evolution in Canada. As of 2010, he is participating in Transport Canada’s UAV Systems Program Design Working Group that will formalize the regulatory changes.

Eric holds a couple of degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Toronto. He is president of Xiphos Systems Corp. of Montreal, which provides electronics and software for specialized space missions and unmanned aircraft. He joined the Board of UVS Canada (now USC-STC) in 2007 and has served in several positions. He concluded his term as Chairman of the Board in 2013.

Dr. David Bird, McGill University – Journal Editor

David BirdAs an Emeritus professor of Wildlife Biology and Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Dr. David Bird has published over 180 scientific papers on birds of prey and supervised 50 graduate students.His name graces the covers of no less than ten books. Dr. Bird is a past-president of the Raptor Research Foundation Inc., a past president of the Society of Canadian Ornithologists,an elected Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union, a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Birding Association, and an elected member representing Canada on the prestigious International Ornithological Committee. Besides his innumerable public lectures and radio and television appearances, Dr. Bird was a regular columnist on birds forThe Gazette of Montreal and still is for Bird Watcher’s Digest magazine.

Dr. Bird has been working with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for about six years and currently supervises three graduate students working on UAVs with another coming on board in 2014. His first M.Sc student studying the use of UAVs to census birds and map their habitat was Dominique Chabot, the 2009 winner of the Unmanned Systems Student Paper Competition Award.Dr Bird and his students have organized three workshops on applications of UAVs for wildlife studies.

As a Board member, Dr Bird led a committee to establish a brand-new peer reviewed publication, the Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems, as the official journal for Unmanned Systems Canada. He is now the Editor of the JUVS.

Declan Sweeney, Unmanned Solutions

Declan Sweeney_2Declan began working with unmanned vehicle technology in 2002 as a founding director and former CEO of Universal Wing Geophysics Corp (“Universal”). Before its sale in 2012, he led the company through the research & development phases of Unmanned Airborne Vehicle (UAV) operations for the mining sector. During this time Universal developed & tested several payloads including AeroMagnetics, LiDAR, Infra-Red and High Resolution Photography. The company flew missions throughout Canada, including beyond visual range (BVR) operations in the Arctic. Declan now operates as an independent consultant developing pilot projects and commercial operations advisory services to companies and corporations seeking to adopt and implement unmanned vehicle technology into their particular sector.

Declan joined the Board of Directors of Unmanned Systems Canada in 2008 and has been involved with the association since that time. Following his third term on the Board, Declan stepped down as vice chairman from the executive but continues as an Ex officio board member. Since 2010, he has been a member of Transport Canada’s Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) systems program design working group within the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council (CARAC). This group has been tasked with developing the legislative framework to allow routine UAS access to civilian airspace.Declan has organised and chaired the Civil /Commercial workshop at each year’s Unmanned Systems Canada conference since 2011.