Who We Are

On behalf of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, a non-profit corporation, leads the growth of the Nevada Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Industry through business teaming relationships, collaboration with primary research institutions, and helping enhance the UAS industry knowledge base in order to attract new and permanent business within the State of Nevada.


Our Mission

The NIAS mission is to coach, teach, and mentor public and commercial UAS companies as well as their staff to develop advanced and innovative UAS applications, procedures, techniques, and technologies to facilitate safe integration into the NAS as mandated by Congress. NIAS has the unique mission to plan and execute UAS flights in collaboration with Nevada teammates, collect FAA flight performance data, and develop enhanced National Airspace safety control measures. NIAS recommends unmanned aviation lessons learned to the FAA and NASA.

Our History

In 2012 Nevada began a robust effort to secure the FAA designation as one of the six UAS test sites established to assist with the integration of UAS into the NAS. In July of 2013 GOED entered into a grant agreement with NIAS to provide oversight of the program management office and Nevada’s bid for the test site. The NIAS board was formed and on December 30, 2013 Nevada was designated as one of six official UAS test sites.


management team

board of directors

Colin Robertson

Tina Quigley

Jay Barrett

Scott Bensing

Dr. Mridul Gautam

As vice president for research and innovation and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, Dr. Mridul Gautam leads the articulation and implementation of a shared vision for research and guides the administrative division focused on developing world-class research and discovery, the careers and competitiveness of faculty, and the institution’s capacity as a high-impact research university and economic cornerstone of Nevada. Dr. Gautam serves as the founding President of the Nevada Research and Innovation Corporation that was established to support the University of Nevada, Reno’s research, innovation and commercialization of its intellectual property. Prior to joining the University in 2013, he was the Robert C. Byrd Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the associate vice president for research at West Virginia University (WVU). He served as the vice president for the WVU Research Corporation. Under his leadership, Research & Innovation provides the highest quality of services and infrastructure to enable faculty, students and staff to excel in their research, scholarly and artistic endeavors and to advance innovation and commercialization. The division helps build interdisciplinary collaborations, assists researchers in obtaining and managing funding, and maintains a safe, healthy and ethical environment in which to conduct research. The division is committed to facilitating connections with industry and fostering regional entrepreneurship and collaboration through an innovative ecosystem, anchored by the Nevada Center for Applied Research and the Innevation Center University of Nevada, Reno—Powered By Switch. Dr. Gautam serves on several national and state advisory committees including the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities' Council on Research – Executive Committee, and its Research Task Force on Laboratory Safety, EPSCoR Coalition Board, Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District Clean Fuels Advisory Group, as well as a member of the National Academies’ Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable. As a member of the University President's Council, Dr. Gautam advises on major policy issues and addresses state and national issues of compelling interest to the research community. Dr. Gautam is an internationally recognized researcher and expert in the area of heavy-duty mobile source exhaust emissions, aerosol sampling, and particulate matter measurement, characterization, and control. He has over 27 years of experience in initiating and managing large interdisciplinary and multi-institutional programs, has served as the principal investigator on over $27 million in funding, and has served as a principal investigator and/or co-principal investigator on over $80 million in funded research. Dr. Gautam has published more than 400 technical articles including refereed journal articles, symposia/published proceedings and published abstracts of papers presented at professional meetings. In addition to having a licensing agreement to his credit, he is a recipient of the Outstanding Aerosol Paper Award through the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award through the Society of Automotive Engineers, and several Outstanding Researcher of the Year awards at WVU. Dr. Gautam received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in 1989 and his master’s in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1984.

Dr. Lynn Fenstermaker

Dr. Fenstermaker has over 30 years of experience in assessing, mapping, and monitoring the effect of environmental stressors on vegetation at small and large scales using multispectral and hyperspectral remotely sensed data from ground to satellite based platforms including UAS (unmanned aircraft systems). Recent research has focused on the use of remote sensing to estimate evapotranspiration for riparian and phreatophytic zones, fine scale examination of crop stressors, and wildfire impact on Great Basin and Mojave Desert vegetation. As an administrative Director, Dr. Fenstermaker is managing several statewide programs including the NV Space Grant Consortium, NV NASA EPSCoR and two research programs addressing the effects of climate change: Nevada Desert FACE Facility (NDFF) and the Mojave Global Change Facility (MGCF). She is also serving as DRI’s UAS Liaison.

John White


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