Island University’s Lone Star UAS Center Names Executive Director

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence & Innovation at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has a new leader: Jerry Hendrix was announced as Executive Director last week.

He previously served as the Chief Engineer for the Center as an employee of Camber Corporation.

“I am thrilled to jump into this position and continue working with The Lone Star Center to support the federal initiatives regarding safe integration of unmanned aircrafts,” Hendrix said. “We are dealing with technology that is advancing rapidly, and is developing quicker than procedures. It’s a high technology explosion similar to what we saw with Kitty Hawk, the jet engine or the first rocket that launched to the moon.”

The University’s Lone Star Center was selected by the Federal Aviation Administration as one of six UAS test sites in late 2013. The Center facilitates testing and research of UAS technologies to help the FAA plan for their safe integration into the national airspace.

Once approved by the FAA, unmanned aircraft systems – sometimes called drones or remotely piloted vehicles – are expected to change the way data is gathered, making it cheaper, easier and faster than using an airplane or satellite imagery. UAS uses include providing images to emergency management officials after disasters or extreme weather and monitoring pipelines, coastlines and agricultural and livestock fields.

“We are proud of A&M-Corpus Christi’s lead role in the future of drone technology,” said Dr. Flavius Killebrew, President and CEO of A&M-Corpus Christi. “Mr. Hendrix has the right mix of experience and vision to lead the Lone Star Center and ensure Texas and Corpus Christi remain on the forefront of this emerging technology.”

Hendrix brings 32 years of aerospace industry experience to this position, which was previously held on an interim basis by Dr. Luis Cifuentes, who also serves as the University’s Vice President of Research, Commercialization and Outreach.

Hendrix’s professional merits include leading development of payload software that resides on the International Space Station and several NASA projects. He also worked with the Army’s live, virtual and constructive architecture, which sets up modeling and simulations for various scenarios or exercises.

In addition to Camber, he previously worked for Boeing and L3 Communications.

Hendrix is also a six-time published author with awards for technical papers in systems engineering, computer language research and game technologies.

As Executive Director, Hendrix is responsible for the continued development of funding and research at the UAS Center.

Hendrix also will be teaching engineering classes and mentoring students through senior capstone projects, a semester-long group project that is often a complex, technical development to improve on existing engineered items.

“Jerry brings with him tremendous experience and achievements in engineering practice and leadership that will benefit our students as they prepare for careers,” said Dr. LD Chen, Director of the School of Engineering & Computing Science. “His talents will also be valuable as we develop a UAS Certificate program for UAS operations and maintenance.”

While the test site designation does not come with federal funding, studies indicate a future economic impact of about $6.5 billion and 8,256 jobs statewide in the decade following full integration of UAS into the national airspace system.

Learn more about the Island University’s designation as an FAA test site and the Lone Star UAS Center at www.lsuasc.tamucc.edu.