Our Summer Spotlight series shines a light on the uniqueness of our Dawood team members. Diversity is key, as we all look to excel in a world of possibilities. Today, we speak with Ryan Frawley, sUAS, Survey Assistant Project Manager.

  1. Describe a typical day at Dawood.

As a survey assistant project manager and certified Part 107 sUAS pilot in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, every day is different! One day, I’m drafting ALTA surveys or flying drones and the next I’m processing field data in the office. I often travel to different site locations to assist staff across the state. In my nine months with Dawood, I’ve been able to assist with multiple projects involving UAS deliverables.

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Pittsburgh. My dad was in the Air Force, so I moved around and lived in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland—where I became interested in surveying as a child. Early in my career, I went to work with my dad, who was an engineer on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Replacement Project over the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland. I witnessed surveyors on-the-job firsthand and thought the work was exciting! In my free time, I lift weights, cook, and watch fighting sports, like the UFC and wrestling.

  1. Tell us a little more bit about your family.

In addition to my dad (now retired from the Air Force), my mom has a doctorate in public health and loves true crime podcasts. With a bachelor’s degree in Applied Forensic Science, my sister collects bones. We’re a close-knit family all living in the Pittsburgh area who see each other weekly.

  1. What’s the greatest life challenge that you’ve overcome?

I’ve had to overcome mental health issues to achieve peace of mind. My advice is not to be embarrassed when talking to others about your mental health struggles and reach out for help. Contacting a therapist, one of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself, has enabled me to be better grounded and cope with anxiety and depression.

[Read more about mental health in the workforce.]

  1. How about a project for which you’re particularly proud?

I was part of a large transportation project in Somerset County involving seven different highway locations! As part of the scope, we deployed drones to capture hundreds of photos all spliced together to create one big mosaic image. This allowed us to get a more accurate view of the job site and see areas that were difficult to reach without a drone. Our team then combined the drone’s data with the initial data that we received from traditional surveying methods to create more accurate data points.

  1. What’s a unique UAS feature most people wouldn’t know?

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and UAS component, drones feature geofencing technology preventing entrance into restricted airspace. As a UAS-certified pilot, I require flight authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to enter these regulated zones using a drone. On some projects, flying your drone near unauthorized airspace requires a workaround when it stops at the geofenced boundary.

  1. Are drones the most complicated piece of technology that you use? 

Yes. They’re fun as a hobby, but difficult for work. Drones feature laser scanners, which scan everything around you to create a 3D image, so you need to know how to operate them and collect points and data. If I were teaching someone how to fly a UAS, I would let them set it up and collect data. Next, I would ask them to evaluate their steps and instruct them on how to improve their results. Experience is the best teacher!