ASSURE and Mississippi State UAS Partner, Insitu, Excited for Mississippi Opportunities

February 1, 2017

Story Photo
Insitu executives visit Mississippi State University to help staff and prepare plans for the company's offices in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. Pictured, from left to right, are Senior Manager Charlton Evans, Vice President and General Manager Jon Damush, Talent Acquisition Team Member Benjamin Tarkany and Chief Engineer Darcy Davidson.
Photo by Russ Houston
Executives from Washington-based Insitu, an industry-leading information provider in the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) field, said Tuesday they are excited to grow partnerships and provide employment opportunities in the Magnolia State and in the Golden Triangle.

In 2016, officials from Insitu, the Mississippi Development Authority and Mississippi State University announced the company would open a new facility at the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park at MSU. Insitu officials are in Starkville this week to meet with potential employees at the MSU Career Fair and continue to build relationships with UAS researchers from MSU.

A subsidiary of The Boeing Company, Insitu creates and supports unmanned systems and software technology that deliver solutions for collecting, processing and delivering superior information. The company serves the needs of military and commercial clients. MSU's history of working with industry leaders in manned and unmanned flight helped draw the company to Starkville.

The university is the lead institution for the Federal Aviation Administration's Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) and is an FAA Center of Excellence. Insitu is headquartered in the scenic Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon and Washington border. While the mountains and scenery is a positive, Vice President and General Manager Jon Damush said it is not always conducive to their needs, which led them to expand operations into different areas of the country.

"Most of the time conducive airspace is not co-located with any kind of infrastructure or human resources capacity, let alone an academic capacity," Damush said. "When we became aware of what was happening at Mississippi State with the ASSURE program, the economic development efforts going on here, for us, it looked like a perfect alignment of factors."

Since May, Insitu officials have been developing plans that will allow them to capitalize on the company's Mississippi offices in the MSU Industrial Partners Building in the research park. Insitu is currently looking to fill two positions with candidates willing to use an innovative approach in an emerging industry. Benjamin Tarkany, who helps coordinate talent acquisition for Insitu, said he has been working with the MSU Career Center representatives in engineering because the jobs will be technical in nature.

"We have established our vision for the office," Tarkany said. "We looked at the capabilities in the area, and we've aligned what we can do project wise with the talent pool here and what we can bring to this office."

Initial work at the Starkville office will focus on technologies, concepts of operations and FAA certifications required to fly unmanned systems in the national airspace professionally and safely, according to Damush. He said he was also interested in the UAS work being done at MSU's Geosciences Research Institute and Raspet Flight Research Laboratory. Insitu also will explore possible industry partnerships.

"We're looking for more complimentary capabilities from a variety of different areas, including industry and academia, to grow what we're trying to accomplish," Damush said.

Insitu personnel visited the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory this week as part of their visit. Dallas Brooks, director of the Raspet lab, said unmanned systems fuse different research areas together, such as robotics, multi-sensor fusion and agriculture, among others.

"That's one of the great things about an emerging industry," Brooks said. "You get to shape what an industry looks like."

For more on Insitu, visit

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By James Carskadon