Entries by Jen Simon

Soar into the Future with a DroneCamp Scholarship!

Are you passionate about drones and their potential to change the world?  This blog post is for you!  The Monterey Bay DART DroneCamp Scholarship Program is offering financial aid to cover the DroneCamp registration fee, making this exciting learning opportunity more accessible to students, non-profits, and individuals in the Monterey Bay area.

Who can apply?

This year, the program is prioritizing applicants from the following areas:

  • High school students
  • Community college students
  • Non-profit organizations
  • CSU Monterey Bay students
  • UC Santa Cruz students
  • US Native Tribal members/affiliates

We encourage everyone to apply!  However, funding for non-priority applicants may be limited.

What does the scholarship cover?

The DroneCamp Scholarship Program covers the DroneCamp registration fee only.

How to Apply

Ready to take flight with your drone education?  Simply complete the application form as soon as possible! Applications are open until 5 PM on Thursday, May 23rd, 2024, or until all funds are allocated.

Don’t miss out on this chance to learn from the best in the drone industry!  For any questions, please contact info@montereybaydart.org.

Spread the word! Share this opportunity with anyone who might be interested in attending DroneCamp.

DoD Powering Innovation, Empowering Entrepreneurs: Startup Connect Meeting Recap!

The Startup Connect meetup on Tuesday, March 12th, hosted by  Monterey Bay DART and the Institute for Innovation & Economic Development (iiED) provided presentations and conversations focused on the Department of Defense (DoD) research ecosystem that drives innovation in military technology. Collaborating with government agencies, private companies, and academic institutions is crucial to nurturing a culture of experimentation and learning. During the meetup, discussions highlighted the safe integration of drones into the national airspace and the opportunities and challenges that come with it, including aerospace integration and safety. Other topics discussed include the importance of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in promoting economic growth and employment opportunities in Monterey County. It was emphasized that innovation and experimentation play a crucial role in developing solutions for national security, and it is essential to leverage the ecosystem to turn ideas into prototypes, especially by enabling technologies.

Are you interested in unlocking the secrets of military innovation? Did you miss the recent discussion on safe drone integration and the future of aerospace? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! Learn how the Department of Defense, businesses, and research universities collaborate to develop cutting-edge technologies. Discover how you can transform your ideas into national security solutions and help boost Monterey’s economy.

Marco Romano, NavalX

Art Siordia, Airspace Integration

Jordan Caballero, Monterey Bay APEX Accelerator

Regional Leaders Convene Tech Hub Consortium

Feb. 26, 2024 — Marina, CA) – Leading Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) companies, Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation, recently met with Monterey Bay region higher educational, military, and municipal leadership to launch a coordinated effort to support workforce training and regional infrastructure needs of the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and hydrogen-fueled aircraft industry. The meeting, convened at UC Santa Cruz’s MBEST Center, was led by Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP), Monterey Bay Drone, Automation, and Robotics Technology (DART) Initiative, and UC Santa Cruz, all of whom are jointly supporting this unified regional consortium of AAM companies, regional government, municipal airports, public education, and community organizations. Established in the fall of 2023, this consortium recognizes the tri-county region of San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties as an emerging tech hub for advanced air mobility.

MBEP’s board president, UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cindy Larive, expressed her enthusiasm for this initial convening. “Recognition of the emergence of an advanced air mobility Tech Hub in the tri-county region should serve to galvanize our efforts to improve workforce education,” said Larive.

“Innovations in advanced air mobility and adjacent industries promise to strengthen our regional economy, and we’re ensuring that the infrastructure is in place to support that growth,” said MBEP President & CEO Tahra Goraya. “These conversations are focused on developing a clear vision for our region and a game plan to ensure that we’re meeting the workforce needs of those who already live and work in the Monterey Bay region.”

Monterey Bay DART Executive Director Josh Metz weighed in on regional infrastructure development. “AAM companies have recognized the ideal geography and local airports of the tri-county region for AAM testing,” Metz said. “We have an incredible opportunity to secure this region’s seat at the advanced air mobility sector table, and support the growth of these exciting companies while realizing a more diverse, resilient, and inclusive economy for the Monterey Bay region and the state of California.”

Joby’s President of Operations and MBEP Board Member, Bonny Simi, stated, “Our deep, years-long partnerships with numerous members of the Tech Hub consortium have resulted in impactful workforce initiatives and the creation of hundreds of high-tech manufacturing jobs in the region. We are enthusiastic about continuing this important work for the benefit of the community.”

Archer’s Chief People & Partnerships Officer, Tosha Perkins, expressed support for consortium efforts: “The AAM industry holds tremendous economic growth and job creation potential, and the tri-county region is at the heart of these efforts,” said Perkins. “We’re proud to be collaborating with key public and private sector stakeholders in our region to ensure California continues to lead the world on this innovative technology as we work together to unlock the full potential that the electrification of aviation has to offer.

Access the form and register your interest in the Tech Hub Initiative:

Infrastructure Working Group

DART is facilitating the Monterey Bay Tech Hub – Infrastructure Working Group (IWG). Objectives of the IWG as currently defined include:

  • Grow R&D supporting and AAM operation enabling infrastructure at Monterey Bay regional and local airports to:
    • Attract additional R&D activity
    • Pilot critical infrastructure and scalable approaches
    • Supporting and expand existing R&D activity
  • Strengthen relationships among AAM infrastructure stakeholder community from local to national scale
  • Prepare strategic AAM infrastructure development plan for consideration by larger Tech Hub group

The IWG will meet virtually on the first Thursday of the month from 1-2pm, and in-person ~once each quarter. If you are interested in being a part of the IWG please register your interest using the form above. 

DART-Joby AMAP: Empowering Futures, Fostering Growth

Monterey Bay DART and Joby Aviation call for Advance Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program applications.

View Press Release

The DART-Joby Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program (AMAP) is a collaboration between the Monterey Bay Drone, Automation, and Robotics Technology (DART) Initiative and Joby Aviation, dedicated to meeting rapidly scaling industry needs and advancing inclusive economic mobility efforts in the Monterey Bay region. The DART-Joby AMAP has demonstrated remarkable success in establishing trusted industry-local workforce relationships, refining recruitment and training processes, and ultimately securing family-sustaining wage job outcomes by establishing productive partnerships between Joby Aviation and community-based organizations, academic institutions, and economic development entities.

The DART-Joby AMAP consists of 6-month paid apprenticeships, under the direction of highly skilled Joby Aviation personnel, that result in upskilling local community members to meet increased demand for advanced manufacturing technicians, robot operation and maintenance, and other entry-level aerospace career pathways. 

Since its launch in fall 2022, the DART-Joby AMAP has facilitated remarkable success. With 23 apprentices enrolled from a pool of over 200 applicants, 20 have transitioned to full-time employment at Joby in 2023. The success of this partnership is seen in the creation of increased opportunities and pathways for underserved community members, as well as continued growth and expansion of cutting edge technology companies within the region. 

“Our partnership with DART has unlocked numerous promising career opportunities in advanced manufacturing and established a model for developing the workforce of the future.” said Bonny Simi, President of Operations at Joby Aviation. “As we redefine the future of mobility, we have an opportunity to change the face of aerospace and make opportunities available to a more diverse workforce of talented individuals.”

In light of these measures of success, the established DART-Joby AMAP is ready to scale and meet the increasing skilled worker demand at Joby Aviation. The next round of funding from the Irvine Foundation Priority Communities Initiative builds on this established momentum in several ways including: 

  • Scaling the Workforce: supporting  Joby’s projected 690-worker growth trajectory by expanding the DART-Joby AMAP in California
  • Curriculum Development: creating advanced manufacturing-oriented curriculum for integration into local community colleges and workforce training centers
  • Community Access: expanding recruitment collaborations with community-based organizations to ensure broader community access to innovation-driven tech career pathways

“We are thrilled the Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program pilot has proven effective in opening up new, high-road career pathways for Salinas and Pajaro Valley residents, and has demonstrated to Joby and other emerging technology companies the tremendous potential of this region for supporting their appropriate scale growth” said Josh Metz, DART Executive Director. “It is a privilege to have the strong support of the James Irvine Foundation, active partnership with the Salinas Inclusive Economic Development Initiative and other community-base organizations, and continued engagement with Joby Aviation. We are honored to serve this role supporting the emergence of such an exciting industry, while contributing to realizing a more accessible and inclusive economy.”

The DART-Joby AMAP will continue to provide specialized education and skills training aligned with business needs, made possible by its longstanding collaboration with educational institutions throughout the region. Additionally, the DART-Joby AMAP will empower underserved populations, promote diversity in entrepreneurship, and offer training and employment opportunities to marginalized communities. By addressing these challenges head-on, the DART-Joby AMAP will continue to create a more equitable and prosperous future for the Central Coast region. 

If you or someone you know is interested in the 2024 DART-Joby Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program (AMAP) Cohort, please enter your information here. We will notify you when recruitment opens.

Monterey Bay DART and Joby Aviation Announce Call for Applications for Next Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program Cohort

MARINA, CA –Monterey Bay Drone, Automation, and Robotics Technologies (DART) Initiative and Joby Aviation, Inc. are pleased to announce the opening of applications for the next Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program (AMAP) cohort. This collaborative initiative aims to address the rapidly scaling industry needs and advance inclusive economic mobility efforts in the Monterey Bay region.

The DART-Joby AMAP is a testament to the success of industry-local workforce relationships, recruitment, and training processes. Established in fall 2022, the program has demonstrated remarkable outcomes, facilitating the transition of apprentices into full-time employment at Joby Aviation. Since its inception, over 60 apprentices have participated, with more than 90% transitioning into permanent positions at Joby as technicians, inspectors, and supervisors.

“Our partnership with DART has unlocked numerous promising career opportunities in advanced manufacturing and established a model for developing the workforce of the future,” said Joby Aviation President of Operations Bonny Simi. “As we redefine the future of mobility, we have an opportunity to change the face of aerospace and make opportunities available to a more diverse workforce of talented individuals.”

Building on this success, the DART-Joby AMAP is poised to scale further with the support of the Irvine Foundation Priority Communities Initiative. The program will expand its reach, supporting Joby’s projected 690-worker growth trajectory, developing an advanced manufacturing-oriented curriculum, and ensuring broader community access to innovation-driven tech career pathways.

“We are thrilled the Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program pilot has proven effective in opening up new, high-road career pathways for Salinas and Pajaro Valley residents,” said Executive Director of Monterey Bay DART Josh Metz. “It is a privilege to have the strong support of the James Irvine Foundation, an active partnership with Salinas Inclusive Economic Development Initiative (SIEDI), and ongoing engagement with Joby Aviation.”

The DART-Joby AMAP will continue to provide specialized education and skills training aligned with business needs, empowering underserved populations and promoting diversity in entrepreneurship. Interested individuals are encouraged to apply for the 2024 cohort to join this transformative program.

For more information and to register interest, visit: www.mbdart.org/joby-amap/ 

About Monterey Bay DART

The Monterey Bay Drone, Automation, and Robotics Technologies (DART) initiative is a non-profit dedicated to advancing innovation and creating high-road career pathways in the fields of drone, automation, and robotics technology. To learn more, visit: www.montereybaydart.org.

About Joby

Joby Aviation, Inc. (NYSE:JOBY) is a California-based transportation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing air taxi which it intends to operate as part of a fast, quiet, and convenient service in cities around the world. To learn more, visit: www.jobyaviation.com.

2023 Monterey Bay DART Symposium Unites Industry, Academia, Government and Communities


Marina, CA, November 7, 2023 – The 2023 DART Symposium, held at the CSUMB University Center from October 11th to October 13th, concluded successfully, marking a milestone event in the world of Advanced Air Mobility, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Agricultural Technology, and Inclusive Economic Development. With a diverse range of insightful discussions, workshops, and notable speakers, the symposium lived up to its promise of facilitating collaboration, knowledge sharing, and inclusive cross-sector engagement.

**Day 1 – Community Integration**

The first day of the symposium kicked off with an enlightening Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Short-Course, hosted by the Community Air Mobility Initiative. This workshop provided state and local decision-makers, agency staff, urban and transportation planners, and interested individuals with a comprehensive introduction to the emerging world of advanced air mobility.

Symposium participants had the exclusive opportunity to join the Joby Aviation at Marina tour, gaining a behind-the-scenes look at Joby Aviation’s advanced manufacturing facilities at the Marina Municipal Airport.

At lunch, Josh Metz, Executive Director of MBDART, and Ken Smith, Lead Organizer of the Salinas Inclusive Economic Development Initiative, extended a warm welcome to all attendees. Senator Anna Caballero, California State Senate District 14,  shared her insights on the importance of AAM to the California economy and to the Salinas Valley workforce.

In the afternoon, the Community Integration – Economic & Workforce Development Workshop brought together various stakeholders to discuss economic and workforce development opportunities and challenges related to advanced air mobility and agricultural technology adoption. The day concluded with the Airspace Integration Corridors & Central Coast Flight Information Exchange Workshop, exploring the potential for establishing safe and secure UAS integration corridors in California.

**Day 2 – AAM & UAS Economic Development Opportunities**

The second day commenced with a hearty breakfast and registration, followed by welcoming remarks by CSUMB College of Business Dean, Dr. Marylou Shockley. Matt Field, Chief Financial Officer at Joby Aviation, delivered an insightful keynote focused on Joby Aviation’s development and implementation pathway.

Two engaging panels delved into supporting continued AAM development (Moderated by MBDART Strategic Advisor/COO, Shari Tavaf), and the creation and management of airspace innovation corridors (Moderated by MBDART Co-Founder, Chris Bley). Notable industry leaders and experts led these discussions, shedding light on the state of research and development and the importance of innovation corridors.

The day continued with a featured, all-female leader panel (moderated by Community Air Mobility Initiative Executive Director, Yolanka Wulff), discussing government’s role in supporting AAM innovation and safety, followed by discussions on infrastructure, vertiports, and test facilities (moderated by UC Berkeley transportation futurist and researcher, Adam Cohen). Following that informative session, Fireside Chat with Carol Dietrich, Founder & President @Jump Aero Inc. and Dean Donovan, Partner @Diamond Stream Partners. Rounding out the day with exploring new return on investment opportunities in the AAM market (moderated by CSUMB College of Business Professor, Dr. Jennifer Kuan).

The evening concluded with a Networking Reception at the University Center, allowing participants to build valuable connections.

**Day 3 – Partnerships & Workforce Development**

The final day began with breakfast and registration, followed by an inspiring keynote from Daniel Theobald, Co-Founder & President of MassRobotics,  setting the stage for discussions on agtech innovation and workforce development.

Panel discussions on public-private workforce development partnerships and community partners in workforce and economic development highlighted the importance of collaboration in nurturing talent and creating economic opportunities.

The symposium concluded with closing remarks, emphasizing the significance of partnerships and workforce development in the rapidly evolving AAM and UAS industries.

The 2023 DART Symposium was a resounding success, with participants and speakers leaving with a deeper understanding of the potential and challenges of the AAM and UAS sectors. The event fostered collaboration among industry experts, government officials, and community leaders, paving the way for a more connected and innovative future.

For more information about the 2023 DART Symposium and upcoming events, please visit https://montereybaydart.org/symposium/.


**Contact Information:**

Josh Metz Executive Director Monterey Bay DART (831) 254-8299

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SIEDI Delegation Explores FIRA-USA 2023

Author: Barbara Meister, SIEDI Mentor

A SIEDI (Salinas Inclusive Economic Development Initiative) delegation explored the emerging world of robotics in agriculture by attending the FIRA-USA conference in September at the Salinas Rodeo Grounds. Participants included representatives from Mujeres en Acción, ALBA and Loaves, Fishes and Computers along with the Ag Tech class from Rancho Cielo

Drone Pavilion

The conference drew entrepreneurs, academics, government scientists, graduate students, venture capitalists, journalists and growers from all parts of the globe. Thanks to our partners at DART, 12 of us had the chance to see field-level robotic demonstrations, meet company representatives, and hear panel discussions about the emergence of robotics and mechanization of agriculture, its promises and possibilities, and the threats and opportunities that come with technological innovation.   

SIEDI leaders had several key takeaways and lots of questions.   Robotics is driven, at least in part, by the shortage of farm labor. Robotics and the mechanization of production agriculture will certainly change work.  

Some new jobs will be created as robotics will require engineering and programming skills for their creation and problem-solving applications. Could these be job opportunities for graduates of Hartnell and CSUMB’s new Mechatronics program? Could the sons and daughters of farm workers be prepared for these jobs? 

Drone Pavilion

Some jobs will be replaced, not immediately, but over time. There is not a robotic solution to harvest strawberries in the field (yet?) because it is difficult for a robotic eye to see the fruit under the leafy canopy of a strawberry plant. A more likely robotic application will be a machine to cut the pre-harvest berry runners and replace those jobs. For a grower, the higher return on labor is during harvest, not during pre-harvest maintenance of the plant.  

Some jobs are at present being replaced. The mechanized PlantTape,  only needs 2 workers to operate it when typically there are 8 or more workers riding a machine and feeding transplants into the soil.  

Some jobs will become safer. We saw an autonomous sprayer that could run at night, by itself and thus eliminate or reduce pesticide exposure for workers. On the other hand, the job of a sprayer often pays a $2-3 per hour premium, and is an attractive job for some because of the higher pay. What happens to these workers when they are replaced by machines?  

Ag Demonstration

Some jobs will be made more efficient. We saw smaller robots, called Burro and Amiga, that could carry small loads behind or alongside a worker, reducing physical burdens and increasing time-labor efficiency. For piece-rate crops, like strawberries, the time a harvester spends carrying a carton of berries to the end of the row is money lost. Will the cost-savings of a robot flow to the worker because they are more productive now? 

SIEDI leaders concluded that at present, robots have both the potential to be a complement to making work safer, less physically demanding, and more efficient for workers AND robots can displace workers. We are  eager to explore the questions of opportunities and threats to our Salinas Valley workforce. How do we create a pathway for the  jobs being created by innovation in ag tech for our youth? How do we re-skill and up-skill those currently work to plant and harvest our food? What impact will robots have on wages for farm workers?  

Drone Pavilion

As SIEDI prepares for its plan of work for the next two years, we are eager to have more conversations, starting with farm workers themselves – what do they want from ag tech? And with small farmers, can robots improve efficiencies at small scale? What capacity do our educational institutions, adult schools and community colleges have for upskilling and re-skilling our current workers? What kind of partnerships can we create alongside these institutions, including CSUMB and UCSC, to prepare our Salinas Valley students for the design, engineering, programming and manufacturing of ag tech? We are eager to talk with farmers who are using and experimenting with ag tech to find out what they are learning and the impact on their labor force. And we want to talk to the ag tech companies in our region  to understand what problems they are trying to solve and their workforce needs.   

Robotics and automation are happening. SIEDI is ready to be proactive in mitigating the downsides and shape how this innovation can enable more Salinas Valley families to be included in the economic opportunities this technology will create.