Vanessa's Open Road


    Operation Roadtrip


Director of Operations
Aerial Autonomy

“I want to do something that’s way out there, and take a chance, take a risk. As a veteran, I can lean back on the the skills I have—I can also go out and take a risk, fail, and be okay.”


Design Engineering


Exploration Transitions Choices Hobbies & Pastimes Passion Chance Risk Community Education


Building Things


  • Her father is a biochemist and she always had that itch for inventing and designing; says that the scientific method is in her roots.
  • When she was in high school, she had a physics professor that was a test pilot in the Navy; his motivation drove her to explore options in the military.
  • She joined the U.S. Air Force Academy after high school, majoring in aeronautical engineering.
  • Now, 25 years later, she holds a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
  • She was part of the team that founded Aerial Autonomy, a company that develops guidance systems to help unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) fly more safely.
  • The company was selected to join Venture Hive’s 2016 Accelerator, which provides grants and classes to promising new businesses.
  • Says that entrepreneurship is completely different from military service; the order and strict guidelines of working for the government have been replaced with creative freedoms and risks.
  • However, taking those risks is a big part of why she loves her job; says that the military gave her skills she’ll always be able to fall back on, and that has helped her welcome risk into her life.

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