Member of the Year

Chapter Leader of the Year

Chapter of the Year

Chapter Communications

Chapter Development

Chapter Recruitment



Member of the Year

2016 - Lauren McCollum

Lauren McCollum chairs AUVSI’s Advocacy Committee which steers public policy engagement with lawmakers, regulators, and industry stakeholders. Her tireless dedication to the association and the unmanned systems industry has earned her AUVSI’s Member of the Year.

During the very busy 2015, Lauren created a Technical Advisory Subcommittee of top subject matter experts to formulate AUVSI’s response to the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making on Small UAS. She also recommended the board of directors establish the AUVSI Political Action Committee to support congressional candidates who appreciate the concerns of the unmanned systems community. She led the transition of the Advocacy Committee from an ad hoc to a standing committee, underscoring the critical role of advocacy in AUVSI’s strategy.

An experienced government relations professional for aerospace and defense contractors, Lauren is director of Legislative Affairs for Intelligence, Joint and Science and Technology Programs at Lockheed Martin. She previously worked in government relations for Raytheon, TRW and Northrop Grumman. Lauren personifies AUVSI’s goal to be the undisputed advocate and voice for the robotics and unmanned systems industry, and this award is in recognition of her significant contributions and achievements.

2015 - J.C. Coffey, director of unmanned systems, Cherokee Nation Technologies

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is one of the government agencies most active in using unmanned aircraft, and John “JC” Coffey is one of the most vocal proponents for expanding their use and promoting the results.

Coffey is director of unmanned systems at Cherokee Nation Technologies, responsible for leading the company’s efforts to support UAS integration and operations.

He works directly with NOAA to help expand its use of unmanned 
aircraft — including the new Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) program that will study severe weather — and is instrumental in aiding with AUVSI road shows to get the word out about positive UAS uses.

JC is active in the local D.C. AUVSI chapter, never missing an event, and has spoken at other chapter and AUVSI events. He encourages individuals and companies to join the association or upgrade their membership and volunteers for committees and focus groups in an effort to help position AUVSI for the future.

2014 - James Grimsley, president and CEO, Design Intelligence Inc. LLC

James Grimsley has tirelessly led the charge in keeping Oklahoma UAS friendly by leading the grassroots efforts to defeat anti-UAS bills in the state legislature in 2013 and will likely be successful in the 2014 legislative session. Grimsley has organized AUVSI members and academics throughout the state to contact their state representatives, visit the capitol and conduct other grassroots activities. He has also written a number of op-eds in newspapers around the state promoting the economic and societal benefits of unmanned systems in Oklahoma. He has become the go-to person in Oklahoma for the media and the governor's office as someone both knowledgeable and passionate about unmanned systems. Grimsley was instrumental in coordinating AUVSI's visit and press conference with Gov. Mary Fallin when AUVSI did a road show visit in January 2013 to Oklahoma. The road show was a great success in part to Grimsley's connections with the governor's office and local press.

Perhaps Grimsley's biggest contribution to the industry was his instrumental role in establishing a voice for the unmanned systems community in the U.S. Senate. Through his dedication and persistence, he was able to enlist Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to establish the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus. 

2013 - Paul McDuffee, Associate VP Government Relations and Strategy, Insitu, Inc.

Paul McDuffee currently serves as the vice-chair of AUVSI's UAS Advocacy Committee, the chair of AUVSI's UAS Privacy Subcommittee, chair of AUVSI's ICAO UAS Technical Committee and formerly served on AUVSI's board of directors. In addition, McDuffee represents the UAS industry as the new co-chair of RTCA's Special Committee 228, subcommittee chair on ASTM's F-38 and he currently serves on the FAA's Aviation Rulemaking Committee. As if that weren't enough, McDuffee regularly participates on industry panels and is frequently quoted in the national media. McDuffee played an instrumental role in helping AUVSI craft the industry's first-ever UAS Code of Conduct, along with AUVSI's position on UAS privacy issues. Prior to getting involved with the UAS industry, McDuffee was a vice president and professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. McDuffee is a certified flight instructor, holds an airline transport pilot certificate and is qualified to fly jet type aircraft with more than 7,000 hours in the cockpit. McDuffee is a large reason for the success of AUVSI's advocacy efforts.

2012 - Ben Miller, Quartermaster; UAS Operations Manager at Mesa County Sheriff's Office

Ben Miller created and now leads one of the pioneering UAS programs in law enforcement. He developed the UAS program, garnered numerous FAA approvals, and continues to operate UAS for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. The UAS program has six pilots and more than 140 flight hours now operating both rotor-craft and fixed wing systems. Through real world experience the project has developed many ground breaking concepts in the use of UAS in Public Safety that will help define the role of this new tool in agencies across the nation.

Ben has been an active and involved member of AUVSI. In addition to being a regular speaker and panelist for AUVSI events, he has provided important insight into what the law enforcement community needs to effectively field UAS. He has also volunteered to speak on three different panels at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America 2012. He’s always ready with a suggestion or insight to improve the sessions that he is participating in and is also willing to help point program staff in the direction of other qualified experts. 

Ben has also been one of AUVSI’s lead champions and spokespersons on UAS integration in the National Airspace in regards to the law enforcement community. He has done a number of interviews on behalf of AUVSI and also played a key role in developing AUVSI’s talking points and privacy policy.  Ben always takes the time to help sister law enforcement agencies across the country looking for more information about UAS.  Very few people have the operational knowledge, experience and credibility Ben Miller has.  AUVSI, the industry, and all of law enforcement owe this pioneer in UAS thanks.  Lives will be saved because of the path Ben Miller has blazed for public safety UAS.

2011 - Mark R. Patterson, Ph.D. Director, Autonomous Systems Laboratory

As director of the Autonomous Systems Laboratory (ASL) at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), Dr. Mark Patterson is an expert in designing and building free swimming autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). He has spent more than a decade designing and building AUVs for oceanic research, marine life observation, and counter-AUV operations for security applications.

Dr. Patterson serves as Technical Chair on AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2011 Program Committee. In this role, he is responsible for providing technical expertise across all of the unmanned systems domains. During the Technical Program development process earlier this year, Dr. Patterson was always available to provide an opinion or suggestion. He proved to be our most dedicated member by attending almost every program committee teleconference and dedicating time over the Christmas holiday to grade technical program proposals. Mark’s input regarding program panel sessions and general session speakers has been instrumental in ensuring every aspect of AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2011 program is informative and valuable for our attendees. 

In addition to his work on this year’s program committee, Dr. Patterson is also an avid supporter of AUVSI Foundation’s maritime student competitions. For the third straight year Mark worked tirelessly on onsite logistics and served as local host for the International RoboBoat Competition conducted in Virginia Beach this June. His work included recruiting and coordinating volunteer labor, acquiring equipment locally that could be borrowed, saving the foundation significant expense, and playing a major role onsite with the daily operations of the competition. Dr. Patterson is a strong proponent for both the RoboBoat and Robosub competitions and the interest they instill in college students to pursue careers in engineering, science and robotics.

Mark’s dedication to the Program Committee, the RoboBoat competition, and to AUVSI was unsurpassed in 2011.

2010 - Joe Gibbs


Joe Gibbs is responsible for uniting the unmanned system industry in Washington and Oregon states in order to create the Cascade Chapter of AUVSI in September of 2009. As president of this chapter over the last 8 months, he has already made it successful through several in-person chapter meetings in both Portland and Seattle. Attendance at some of these events has topped 150 people, resulting in increased corporate and individual AUVSI membership and participation. 

He worked with Federal and local governments in both the US and Canada and brought together academia and industry to organize an unmanned systems technology cluster aimed at improving education and creating jobs. His recent efforts have focused on educating the local industry on civilian robotics/unmanned systems applications that include agriculture, healthcare and environmental protection. As business development manager for Northwest UAV Propulsion systems, he has worked tirelessly to advance the UV industry while supporting AUVSI through participation including sponsorship, exhibits, and membership and Chapter activities.

Chapter Leader of the Year


Mr. Blocker has had one of the longest tenures as an AUVSI Chapter Officer, first serving as second Vice President from 2009-2011, then as first Vice President from 20011-2013, and spending 2013-2017 as the President of AUVSI Pathfinder. During that time and, under Peter's leadership, the Chapter donated over half a million dollars to support robotics programs, competitions, teams, and organizations. In 2016, during his final year as Chapter President, the Chapter donated over $22,000 to thirty local schools organizations and teams.


Chapter of the Year


In 2016, AUVSI New England expanded their position within the regional autonomous vehicle sector through increased activity of their members and Chapter Leadership. AUVSI New England provided keynote and Subject Matter Experts to a variety of conferences, tech-days, legislative forums, and their own chapter events. In the last year, there was Chapter presence at over 15 regional events, and the Chapter provided opportunities for AUVSI members to explore sectors beyond their core focus. Additionally, the Chapter is expanding its Advocacy efforts, and have hired their own PR/Advocacy firm. Overall, AUVSI New England is a stellar example for all of AUVSI’s Chapters, and continues to supersede their efforts every year.


The Silicon Valley Chapter has been one of AUVSI’s most active chapters in the last year. The chapter supported advocacy efforts at the local level and at the California Legislature. It hosted a Capitol Day in Sacramento for members to discuss with state lawmakers the benefits of unmanned systems technology. They also pointed out the dangers posed by bills that would restrict innovation and threaten the state’s rapidly growing unmanned systems business sector.

The Silicon Valley Chapter partnered with NASA on the Unmanned Traffic Management conference held at NASA Ames in July. The event was regarded as one of the most important of the year as it could lay the groundwork for a thriving and safe commercial industry. It proved to be very popular, drawing an attendance of more than 1,000. For three days, more than 70 speakers presented research and innovation aimed at UAS airspace integration. This important conference was a great success for the chapter and enabled them to start new programs that added value for the local membership. They also formed a scholarship process for students studying unmanned systems and robotics.

The chapter supported AUVSI’s initiatives to reach the startup community, a large segment of which is in Silicon Valley. They partnered with AUVSI on two events and assisted with speakers and promotion — the September 2015 San Francisco workshop “Starting up with UAS,” and the January 2016 webinar “Starting Up in the UAS Industry: How to Build a Successful Company.”


The Oklahoma chapter led grassroots efforts to defeat anti-UAS bills in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 state legislative sessions, keeping Oklahoma UAS friendly. The chapter leveraged AUVSI members, academia, stakeholders and mutual constituencies to contact their state representatives, visit the Capitol and other grassroots activities to succeed. The chapter has been involved in public education by writing several op-eds in state newspapers promoting the economic and societal benefits of unmanned systems in Oklahoma. As a result, they have become a reputable source of knowledge for unmanned systems to the media, state legislature and the Governor’s office.

Furthermore, the Oklahoma chapter was instrumental in delivering a significant contribution to the unmanned systems community by establishing a voice for the unmanned systems community in the United States Senate. Through their leadership, dedication and persistence, the chapter was able to enlist U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Joe Manchin (D-WVa.) to establish the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Caucus.

In 2014, USA-OK hosted the Oklahoma Summit in Broken Arrow, and supported the “World’s Best Technology” (WBT) conference in Stillwater. Both events were a great success drawing nearly 180 attendees and focusing on the industry and political issues surrounding the future of UAS in Oklahoma. Speakers came from a broad cross-section of government and industry, and their efforts led to increased awareness of AUVSI in the state as well as gains in engagement and membership.



For the second year in a row, AUVSI's Cascade Chapter has set the benchmark for outstanding contributions to AUVSI and the unmanned systems community. Since August 2013, the Cascade Chapter has increased their membership 27 percent by engaging industry companies in Oregon and Washington and hosting two successful events focusing on the commercial and civil uses of UAS for first responders and agriculture as outlined in AUVSI's new market development initiative. The chapter has also worked successfully in educating legislators and decision makers in both Oregon and Washington to prevent future restriction on UAS technology. The chapter's success in rallying its membership to its calls for action comes from its strong communications commitment to its membership. The chapter regularly produces a newsletter to keep its membership informed of not only chapter activities, but also industry news and topics. 

The chapter also has mentored newly formed AUVSI chapters around the country and is in the process of expanding their footprint to serve the AUVSI members in the state of Alaska. The chapter also played a key role in preparing and winning the Federal Aviation Administration test site bid for the successful Alaska, Oregon and Hawaii site. Finally, the chapter was instrumental in securing a grant of more than $800,000 from the state of Oregon for UAS companies. 



Chartered in September 2009, the Cascade Chapter has already seen success in many areas. Its membership has grown more than 20 percent since 2012. It hosts two significant meetings annually, one in Oregon each fall and one in the Seattle area in the spring, allowing it to reach a larger percentage of its membership. More than 125 members from across the country participate in each of these conferences and small exhibitions. Its programs have included industry hot topics such as privacy, airspace integration, law enforcement use and regulatory affairs, and it has welcomed speakers from the Seattle Police Department, American Civil Liberties Union, industry and the U.S. Senate. With its event successes, it was able to award its first student scholarship this year, and more are planned. 

The officers have met with local and national lawmakers several times to educate them on the great civilian and life-saving uses of unmanned systems and to influence favorable legislation for the industry, which will in turn benefit their members. They set the chapter standard for communication with members by sending a monthly newsletter highlighting all of the chapter activities as well as industry news and topics specific to their geographic area. 



The largest active chapter outside the United States, now serving almost 400 members, the AUVSI Israel Chapter has been instrumental in raising the profile of AUVSI and its mission throughout the global unmanned systems community. They have successfully increased their chapter membership nearly 800% since they were chartered in late 2008. 
The leadership and members of the Israel chapter regularly coordinate with industry in Israel to continue and expand their activities. They work regularly with AEAI (Association of Engineers and Architects in Israel) and recently began collaborations with both IEEE and ISQ (Israeli Society for Quality) for unmanned systems events. 

In March 2012 the chapter hosted its second-ever event, the AUVSI Israel International Conference, and welcomed nearly 700 attendees and 50 exhibiting companies from more than 22 countries, along with top-tier speakers addressing a wide range of unmanned systems topics. The success of this event has translated into increased membership for AUVSI and a higher profile for unmanned systems around the world.


The Pathfinder Chapter is the recipient of the first-ever Chapter of the Year Award. The largest chapter serving nearly 400 members, the Pathfinder Chapter remains one of the most active and innovative chapters within AUVSI. Their March 2011 symposium “Roadmap to the Future” welcomed more than 300 attendees, saw a 33% increase in exhibitor participation as well as increased sponsorship dollars. The chapter converts the profits from the event into scholarship dollars for local students and support for STEM education and initiatives.

In May 2011, the Pathfinder Chapter supported the International Micro Air Vehicle (IMAV) competition and put up half of the total prize money that the 15 student teams from around the world were hoping to win. The competition was considered such a success; there are talks to bring it back to Alabama in future years.

The leadership and members of the Pathfinder chapter host regular monthly meetings. They are actively involved with AUVSI and its members across the country. When presented with opportunities to engage the unmanned systems and robotics community, they highlight the value and benefit of being a member of AUVSI. The Pathfinder Chapter serves as a mentor to other chapters and has often been referred to as the standard to which many chapters strive.


Chapter Communications


AUVSI Spain is only a year old, but they have already created a communications model for all Chapters to emulate. They send out communications to their Chapter members twice a month, and their emails are designed creatively and with great visual appeal, as well as being very informative. The Chapter’s communications provide an overview of industry updates, Chapter updates, and also enthusiastically promote AUVSI events. Additionally, their social media presence is astounding with continually updated channels on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Chapter Development


The San Diego Lindbergh Chapter has completely turned itself around from previous years, with the help of their Chapter Leadership team. Under new leadership, they have revitalized a waning Chapter, which was previously delinquent in their administrative paperwork. The Chapter is currently working with the IEEE San Diego Chapter, SPAWAR, Qualcomm and other San Diego Robotics companies to form a San Diego IEEE UAV Special Interest Group (SIG) to improve the collaboration and innovation among San Diego Regional stakeholders from government, industry, and academia. They are also working with San Diego State University, Coleman University, National University, and University of California San Diego in promoting robotics within their student curriculum.

Chapter Recruitment


AUVSI Louisiana Pelican has hit the ground running since its formation. Lead by a stellar leadership team, the Chapter has held regular meetings, participates in community activities, particularly with STEM, and is active with state advocacy. They are planning to hold their own State Advocacy Day in May 2017, partnering with Aerospace States Association (ASA). All of their activities have clearly paid off, as their Chapter membership increased by 48% this past year, and will no doubt continue to rise.