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DASH and I at the Carolina Aviation Museum, Summer '19
DASH and I at the Carolinas Aviation Museum, Summer 2019.

Hey, I'm Leah!

I'm originally from south Louisiana, and I've lived in seven states, so far. My favorite color is purple, I love running, and I am space technology geek with a passion for unmanned systems. Overall, my favorite aircraft is the B-17G Flying Fortress - a WWII bomber - and my [current] favorite unmanned system is the little Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, that just accomplished the first-ever powered flight on another celestial body!

Originally, I used my GI Bill to study Forensic Anthropology at the University of Hawaii - West Oahu. I was in LOVE with that field, but when it was time to move, we ended up in a rural area where we've been for over 5 years, now. I realized that if I didn't reroute, I'd never make it to any sort of career. So, I switched gears. Truthfully, I've been in love with space since I was a kid, but I thought I needed to be great at math to get close to the industry. So, I went to I.T. which had the tech side to it, at least.

I earned my Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) from American Military University.  Then, I started my Master of Science in Unmanned Systems, with a concentration in space systems, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide, since there is no campus anywhere near where we are. The power of unmanned systems to accomplish tasks humans can't - or supplement what we can - is incredible.

The intention of this site is to document my educational/professional journey into the unmanned world; many professors require some sort of journaling throughout each term. You'll find I.T. blogs from my time in undergrad, as well. Professionally, I've yet to get my dream job, but I'm workin' on it.

Questions, comments, concerns - leave a note under any of my blog posts!

My wife and I at Kennedy Space Center in front of the Apollo Command Service Module.
My wife and I at Kennedy Space Center in front of the Apollo Command Service Module.

What is U.S. Around Us?

Unmanned systems are systems that accomplish tasks with very little, or absolutely no, human intervention. Even prior to da Vinci's 1495 self-propelled cart, the idea of devices that can move and do on their own was already a human endeavor. Currently, unmanned systems are exploring the depths of the ocean, performing surgeries, and tackling missions for the Department of Defense. Whether totally on their own or controlled from a distance, unmanned systems allow us to go where humans can't, accomplish what may be too dangerous, and explore worlds we cannot yet survive.

Unmanned systems are all around us.

On my site, you'll follow my educational adventures at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the Master of Science in Unmanned Systems program. As I learn, so will you.

This website is not a reflection of any organization or employer I belong to. All content is my own.

Images: (top) We traveled to the Carolinas Aviation Museum on our way back from a weekend at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Here, I met DASH! QH-50 DASH (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter) was the first military drone, coming on the DoD scene in 1963 (after a few iterations) as a response to the Soviet's nuclear submarines. This UAV was an anti-submarine helicopter designed to launch from a destroyer, fire two torpedoes OR a Mk 57, and return to the ship. These rotorcraft were also used for naval gunfire recon, and then adapted to carry small arms. 758 DASH airframes were built by Gyrodyne. As DASH advanced, cameras for recon missions were added.


(middle right) In front of the space shuttle stack - two solid rocket boosters and the external tank - in front of the Atlantis exhibit entrance at Kennedy Space Center. After liftoff, those rocket boosters separate at ~24 nautical miles altitude. They have parachutes that allow them to drop into the ocean where they are recovered by waiting ships. Once they make it back to land, they were fixed up and reused! During the initial ascent, these boosters guide the vehicle and can produce up to 5.3 million pounds of thrust! The external tank held liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX). It was ejected a few seconds after main engine cutoff (MECO). They weren't reused - they broke up over the ocean as they re-entered the atmosphere. The space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011.


(bottom) My wife and I standing in front of the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) at Kennedy Space Center's Apollo/Saturn V Center. The CSM consists of the Command Module (CM) and the Service Module (SM).  When mated, they're referred to as the Command and Service Module or CSM. The Command Module is where the astronauts lived; it was divided into three parts - the forward/nose compartment held parachutes; the aft (rear) was the base and had propellant, reaction control engines, wires, and all the engines and plumbing; and the crew compartment, in the middle, had all the controls with five windows, and gave the three astronauts enough room to sit forward in a row, side by side. There was a hatch above and a short access tunnel for docking in the nose.  The CM was powered by batteries after SM separation and was equipped with re-entry thrusters.

The service module is where the propulsion system/consumables were housed, and it was divided into six sections, each containing a different component needed to power the mission.