Speaker Biographies

Joseph D. Burns
Chief Executive Officer, Sensurion Aerospace

Prior to his current role, Captain Joseph D. Burns served as managing director of technology and flight test at Senior Technical Advisor for NextGen Programs for United Airlines. He also held positions at United as Managing Director – Flight Standards, FAA Certificate Director of Operations, Director – Flight Standards, Director – Technology, Chief Pilot – FFDO Program, Manager – Automation Systems, Pilot Instructor, and ALPA LEC Safety Chairman. He is currently an International Captain on the Boeing 767 and 757, and he is type-rated in B767, B757, A320, A319, B-727, DHC-8, BE-1900 and BE300 aircraft.

Burns is currently on the Executive Advisory Board for Position, Navigation, and Time; an advisory board member for the National Center for Atmospheric Research; Board Member for Aspen Avionics, Board Member Emeritus for EMS Technologies Member of the NextGen Advisory Council Subcommittee; Board Member and is the Chairman of the Board of ATN Systems, Inc. He holds an MBA in Management from the Miami University School of Business and a B.S. in Aeronautics/ Aeronautical Engineering from Miami University. He also holds multiple patents in Communications, Security, and Sensor Technology. 

Michael Drobac
Executive Director, Small UAV Coalition

Michael E. Drobac serves as Executive Director of the Small UAV Coalition, an organization composed of leading consumer and technology companies with the goal of advancing the recreational, public (first responders), philanthropic and commercial use of small unmanned aerial vehicles. Founding members of the Small UAV Coalition are (in alphabetical order): Airware, Amazon Prime Air, DJI Innovations, GoogleX, GoPro, Parrot, and 3D Robotics. He also serves as Senior Policy Advisor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in Washington, D.C., a role in which he advocates before Congress and federal agencies in support of the policy objectives of his clients in the technology and telecommunications sec- tors. His expertise includes Policy and Regulation, Privacy and Data Protection, and Communications and Information Technology.

Drobac previously served as legislative counsel to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and as legislative director to U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (R- MN). He also established and served as the first director of Netflix’s Washington, D.C. office, where he identified and developed the first official set of short and long-term policy goals for the company on federal, state and international policy issues. Drobac received his B.A. and M.A. at Stanford University, again his J.D. at University of Oregon School of Law, and his LL.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Breton Johnson
Director, Center for the Commercialization of Innovative Transportation Technology; Associate Director, Northwestern University Transportation Center

Bret Johnson is the Associate Director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center, and also the Director of the Center for the Commercialization of Innovative Transportation Technology at Northwestern. In prior roles at Northwestern, he served as Director for the Homeland Security Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and as Assistant Director for the Illinois Technology Enterprise Center, both technology-based economic development programs funded by and operated for the State of Illinois.

Prior to joining Northwestern, Johnson held senior engineering and project management positions at 3COM, Grayhill, Northrop-Grumman, and GE Astrospace. He received an M.A. in Science, Technology and Public Policy from The George Washington University, an M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 


Hani Mahmassani
William A. Patterson Distinguished Professor in Transportation, Northwestern University; Director, Northwestern University Transportation Center.

Dr. Hani Mahmassani joined Northwestern University in 2007 with joint appointments in the McCormick School of Engineering and the Kellogg School of Management. Prior to joining Northwestern, he was the Charles Irish Senior Chaired Professor in Transportation Engineering and Director of the Maryland Transportation Initiative at the University of Maryland. He previously spent 20 years on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin.

Mahmassani has more than 30 years of professional, academic, and research experience in the areas of multimodal transportation planning and network modeling, freight and logistics systems analysis, homeland security and emergency systems operations, intelligent transportation systems, econometric modeling (with applications to travel and freight demand forecasting), intergrated systems management, and travel and shipper behavior analysis.

Sean McCann
President and Chief Executive Officer, Mist Mobility Integrated Systems Technology

Sean McCann is President and CEO of Mist Mobility Integrated Systems Technology (MMIST Inc) a company dedicated to the advancement of aerial delivery of cargo. McCann joined MMIST in 2000, during which time the company has developed and fielded a family of guided parachutes capable of delivering payloads up to 10,000 pounds, as well as the CQ-10A, a point-of-use cargo unmanned aerial vehicle that delivers hundreds of pounds of cargo via autonomous airdrop. MMIST’s family of products are designed to work together to enable delivery of cargo without dependence on ground based infrastructure. McCann holds a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering.