Advanced air mobility leaders convene to discuss drone implementation across Ohio

Posted: April 11, 2022
Four people smiling
Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson (center left) and Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted (center right) shared opening remarks. Here they are with student event organizers Zoe Karabinus (left) and Chris Johnson. Photo: College of Engineering

Featuring field trips, expert panels, networking, recruitment and timely presentations, The Ohio State University 2022 Ohio Air Mobility Symposium convened key leaders in the field of unmanned aerial systems to discuss “What does advanced air mobility mean for the State of Ohio?” The two-day gathering with over 150 attendees was held April 7-8 on the university’s Columbus campus.

The student-led event first launched in 2020 and aims to foster collaboration among industry, academia, policymakers and regulators, who are laying the groundwork for Ohio’s advanced air mobility ecosystem. The group’s advisory panel includes leaders from across a broad spectrum of advanced mobility fields at Ohio State and beyond.

“The success of this event just goes to show how ready Ohio is to step into a leadership role in the advanced air mobility industry,” said Zoe Karabinus, program coordinator, and fourth-year student majoring in aviation and aerospace engineering.

“As a student team we were able to gather attendance, support and participation from numerous academic, government and industry entities. It was enlightening to see the discussions that the event generated, and I think that this is just the beginning of further partnerships for the state and university,”

Highlights of the symposium included a trip to the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport and Ohio State research centers to showcase flight simulators, ground vehicles and facility tours. Day one activities concluded with an exclusive networking night featuring student and faculty research showcases, along with updates from the State of Ohio and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Three people standing and smiling
Student event organizers, left to right: Scott Wilder, Zoe Karabinus and Chris Johnson

“The Ohio Air Mobility Symposium highlights the critical and national leadership role that the State of Ohio is playing in the future of air mobility,” commented John Horack, senior associate dean and Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy, College of Engineering.

“We are very proud to host this annual event at Ohio State, and to have received deep engagement from key technical leadership, government officials and private-sector stakeholders – not to mention the professional organization of the conference performed entirely by our students. The conference reflects the collaborative work ongoing across the entire state, to bring positive outcomes in healthcare, agriculture, commerce and more, through the development of next-generation aviation systems that are safe, productive and economically transformative for all.”

On day two of the symposium, participants enjoyed four moderated panels, presentations and networking opportunities. Welcome remarks were given by Kristina M. Johnson, president, The Ohio State University, and Jon Husted, lieutenant governor of the State of Ohio.

Keynote presenter Robert Pearce, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD), inspired the group. “It’s an exciting time to bring some of these ideas to TRL [technology readiness level] and Ohio State is doing that,” he said.

Man standing and speaking at a podium
Keynote presenter Robert Pearce, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

Pearce envisioned a UAM-connected Ohio State campus of the future, complete with fast drone flights to and from satellite campuses. “Imagine if you had a UAM system that could connect all your campuses: a professor could easily teach a class in person at one campus, then another in the same day.”

“To get people excited about UAM, it has to make life easier.” His charge to attendees: “We do it as a community to make progress.”

Event sponsors at the mid-level were Community Air Mobility Initiative, Ohio Federal Research Network, Ohio State Battelle Center for Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, Ohio State Center for Aviation Studies, Ohio State Aerospace Research Center, JobsOhio, DriveOhio and UAS Center. Those at the general level were airspacelink, Crown, Parallax Advanced Research, Technology for Energy Corporation, ModularAerospace, Thales and Unmanned Safety Institute.

For information on future events and to be added to the group’s distribution list, email ENG-OAM@osu.edu.

by Holly Henley, communications specialist, henley.53@osu.edu