Drone Watching: Tom Brandt, Scouting for Business

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In the Drone Watching series, student reporters talked with people from various backgrounds who have one thing in common: an active interest in the future of drones. We’re starting off with attendees of the eighth annual Unmanned Aerial Systems Action Summit, which took place in Grand Forks, North Dakota, last month and brought more than 375 industry professionals together for two days of networking and presentations.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Tom Brandt is a vice president of business development for the aerospace and defense wing of a product design and development company.

Brandt, who drove to the conference from Minneapolis, said he came to “prospect”—getting an idea of who was attending the conference and whether their companies might be interested in doing business. He was also there to get an idea of what regulations the Federal Aviation Administration might be implementing in the near future.

“It’s going to be interesting in the next three to five years, what the FAA does as far as regulating what can be done and what can’t be done,” he said. “We definitely want to stay ahead of that.”

The FAA is under a deadline set by Congress to create standards for drones and their operators and safely integrate them into the national airspace by September 2015.

Brandt said his company, Logic PD, helps unmanned aircraft systems companies with engineering services and also works with products related to imaging applications for use in precision agriculture and pipeline surveillance—both areas where interest in UAS usage is expanding.

Overall, the advancement of UAS technology is something Brandt has a strong personal interest in.

“Where is the industry going?” he asked. “What’s the technology they’re looking for?”

He also sees it as potentially lucrative, noting that the entire UAS market is expected to grow by billions of dollars in the next decade.

“Our company wants to be a part of that,” he said.

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