Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven today announced two keynote speakers for the Sixth Annual UAS Action Summit in Grand Forks later this month: the executive manager of the Federal Aviation Administration's UAS integration office, James Williams, and US Air Force Assistant Secretary and former Conrad Senior Advisor Dr. Jamie Morin.
James Williams was selected in March 2012 to serve as the Executive Manager of the newly-created Federal Aviation AdministrationUnmanned Aircraft Systems(UAS) Integration Office, responsible for coordinating all aspects of the FAA's efforts to integrate UAS into the national airspace system. In that post, he will lead the FAA's efforts to comply with a Congressional mandate advanced by Senators Conrad, Dorgan, and Hoeven to establish six test ranges for integrating UAS into the national airspace. From 2005 until his new appointment, Williams served as the Director of Engineering Services, responsible for preparing the national airspace system for "NextGen," the air traffic control system of the future.
"Securing the FAA's lead official in charge of UAS integration as a keynote speaker is a big deal," the Senators said in a joint statement. "As the FAA seeks to meet the Congressional requirement to establish six test sites to advance UAS integration, no one in government is as dedicated to or knowledgeable about UAS issues as Jim Williams."
Dr. Morin is the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller. He serves as the Air Force's Chief Financial Officer and principal adviser to the Secretary of the Air Force on all financial matters. In his role as Assistant Secretary, Dr. Morin oversees the financial management team responsible for the effective and efficient use of Air Force resources, including more than 680,000 military and civilian personnel and a budget of more than $119 billion. From 2003 through 2008, Dr. Morin was a member of the professional staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget under the leadership of Chairman Conrad.
"Dr. Morin has established himself as one of the Air Force's rising young stars. As my trusted defense advisor for several years, I know the value and expertise that Dr. Morin brings to the job every day. He is a good friend to the Air Force and to North Dakota. I look forward to hearing his insights in Grand Forks," Senator Conrad said.
"Dr. Morin has a strong background with Air Force operations and understands the tremendous work being done in the Grand Forks area to grow our UAS industry. We look forward to hearing from the speakers at this year's summit, which will highlight the important work being done in North Dakota. Bringing together leaders in the UAS industry will help us as we continue to work to make Grand Forks a test site for integrating UAS into the airspace," said Hoeven.
Senators Conrad and Hoeven noted that the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Action Summit 2012 -- held May 22 and 23 - will focus on developing and strengthening the nation's growing unmanned systems industry and advancing the call to develop responses to some of the pressing issues, challenges, and opportunities.
This year's theme, "From Battle Field to Farm Field," will examine the entire spectrum of important issues the industry must consider and prepare for as unmanned systems play an expanding role in defense and commercial applications within the national airspace.
Over 450 UAS professionals attended the event last year.