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11.20.2014

PrecisionHawk Trailblazer Highlight: Dr. Philip Ferguson

One of our goals is to create a seamless tie between our clients and team. That said, we will be spending the next few weeks introducing the brains (and more often than not, the literal and figurative force) behind our products and operations.

You’ve already met our President & Co-founder, Dr. Ernest Earon. This week, we’re shifting the spotlight to his right hand man in product development, Dr. Philip Ferguson.

Dr. Ferguson is an experienced engineer  and project manager with space systems expertise in navigation, control, estimation and power systems design and control. He also  has considerable experience in business development as well as educational outreach.

Prior to taking an executive role at PrecisionHawk, Phil  accrued over 15 years of  experience in team leadership and management, dynamics, multi-sensor data fusion, space radiation and engineering management from other renowned organizations like Magellan Aerospace, Microsat Systems Canada Inc., Dynacon Inc. and MDA Space Missions.

We sat down with Phil to pick his brain on a few industry-related points that we think will serve as accurate representations of his work, expertise and expectations.

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Can you give me a brief synopsis of your background and where you come to us from?

"My background is in space systems controls engineering.  I obtained my PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in spacecraft control systems and then started working in the small satellite industry.  I designed the attitude control system for Canada’s NEOSSat microsatellite while at Microsat Systems Canada Inc.  Most recently at Magellan Aerospace, I was the Engineering Manager for the electrical and software engineering teams, working on the three RADARSat Constellation Mission spacecraft.

At Magellan, I was also the Power Subsystem lead, responsible for the solar arrays, batteries and power control unit.  At home with my family, we strive for the self-sufficiency.  My dream is to live on a small hobby farm, capable of providing me and my family with all of the meat, vegetables, water, heat and electricity required to live a modest lifestyle, all from the land we live on and the sunlight that shines on us."

What interests you most about PrecisionHawk?

"Airborne remote sensing requires a coordinated ballet of several different types of engineering, all in a single package.  The challenge of combining the latest sensing technologies, with wireless communications, data analysis / distribution, efficient power systems, robust structures and high-performance aerodynamics is unique to the UAV industry and is something PrecisionHawk does extremely well.  I am also excited about PrecisionHawk’s commitment to what customers actually want — meaningful data.  The world’s most exciting, high-tech and capable UAV in the world means nothing to a farmer that needs to know how to ensure his crops survive an impending drought or a deep overnight frost.  PrecisionHawk understands this need.  At PrecisionHawk, we all work for the data."

What skills do you bring to the company?

"I have over 15 years of aerospace engineering experience, ranging from space robotics, astronaut performance, satellite navigation, radiation protection and spacecraft power systems.  The engineering rigour I learned in my years of working with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) provides me with a solid foundation for engineering, design, manufacturing and management.  My academic experience provides me with toolset required to lead and execute cutting edge research programs, well-grounded in practical engineering principles.  My engineering and project management experience allows me to take on large management roles with the skills and confidence required to succeed."

What level of impact do you believe UAV technology and high resolution aerial mapping can have on civilian markets of the future?

"PrecisionHawk addresses a growing, insatiable need for data in one of the most basic and critical industries for human prosperity — agriculture.  Big picture knowledge has the potential to revolutionize virtually any industry, as has been demonstrated in the past.  The space age brought unprecedented weather monitoring and prediction capability to societies on Earth.  The internet’s global connections of communities changed the way the world interacts.  Similarly, UAV technology, and in particular, PrecisionHawk, will change the way we interact with our planet and our planet’s resources forever and for the better."

Phil is a true representative of PrecisionHawk’s stance on innovation, adoption and distribution of globally-impactful technologies. If you are interested in joining our team or want to learn more about our culture, shoot us an email at iwant2work@precisionhawk.com.