Technical Webinar Series from the Editors of SAE: Advances in Unmanned System Propulsion

Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at Noon U.S. EDT

Click HERE to find the start time at your location

The development of new propulsion technologies has been the focus of R&D looking to provide the functionality needed for unmanned aircraft systems, including vertical takeoff and landing, long endurance, stealthy operations, and stability in hostile environments. Their development also incorporates advances in scalability, re-configurability, and extensions that host functions to legitimate business opportunities such as goods delivery, agriculture, firefighting, news gathering, and military operations. Success means reduced operation and maintenance costs as well as less complexity, but it also brings higher functioning systems.

This 60-minute Webinar highlights key issues in the development and certification of advanced propulsion technologies, discusses potential challenges and solutions, and looks at new approaches and ideas. It also includes an audience Q&A after the technical presentations.


David Ransom, Manager, Southwest Research Institute

David Ransom is a Manager at Southwest Research Institute. His professional experience over the last 18 years includes engineering and management responsibilities at Boeing, Turbocare, and Rocketdyne. His research interests include machinery for propulsion and energy applications. He is experienced in the areas of rotordynamics, structural dynamics, finite element analysis, fluid-thermal systems, root cause failure analysis, modeling and simulation, and test rig development. He also manages the NPSS Consortium, developing simulation tools for air and liquid breathing engine systems. He has authored 24 technical papers in the field of rotordynamics, rocket propulsion, and root cause failure analysis. David received his M.S. (mechanical engineering, 1997) and his B.S. (engineering technology, 1995) from Texas A&M University. He is also a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas.

Jeff Ratcliffe, CTO and Engineering Services Business Development Manager, Northwest UAV

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Chief Technical Officer and Engineering Services Business Development Manager at Northwest UAV. After joining the company in 2012, he established and shepherded the engineering department through its first major propulsion system development projects and AS9100 certifications. He was promoted to CTO in 2014 and is focused on developing markets and strategies for UAV propulsion systems that are suitable for operations in the national air space. Jeff started his professional life in the U.S. Navy Submarine Nuclear Power program. Later he worked for the Insitu Group, a miniature robotic aircraft start-up that became the leading manufacturer and operator of small UAVs. While at Insitu, Jeff established and developed its production line into an effective AS9100-compliant manufacturing facility, led the development of the first small heavy-fuel engine deployed successfully in field operations, and was responsible for integrating and deploying other advanced propulsion and payload technologies. Jeff has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Portland State University.

Dr. Karen Swider Lyons, Ph.D., Alternative Energy Section Head, Chemistry Division, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Dr. Karen Swider Lyons is the head of the Alternative Energy Section in the Chemistry Division at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, where she leads research programs in energy materials and systems. She has done extensive basic and applied research on fuel cells throughout her career and, starting in 2003 with the Spider Lion, applied the technology to unmanned air and undersea vehicles. In 2010, Karen received the Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientist Award from the U.S. Navy for developing the long-endurance Ion Tiger fuel-cell-powered unmanned air vehicle. She earned her Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in chemistry from Haverford College. She also holds 15 patents.


Lisa Arrigo, SAE International

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