Listen to FreeFall Aerospace talking Tucson Innovation on
The Creative City Radio Show
FreeFall is on the air at 35:11 in this episode.
FreeFall Aerospace was on The Creative City Show to talk about Tucson getting statewide recognition for entrepreneurship and innovation. Host, Zach Yentzer, spoke with FreeFall’s Doug Stetson (President), Julie Bonner (Marketing Director) and Alex Rodriguez (COO).
Julie Bonner, Zach Yentzer, Doug Stetson and Alex Rodriguez on the Creative City Show
FreeFall Aerospace is Innovator of the Year – Startup Company
Steve Zylstra – CEO Arizona Technology Council, Doug Stetson – CEO FreeFall Aerospace, and Sandra Watson – CEO Arizona Commerce Authority. Photo by Tech Launch Arizona
FreeFall Aerospace was named as “Innovator of the Year – Start-Up Company” during the 16th annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards presented in Phoenix Arizona by the Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority. The Innovation category is awarded to a company that has achieved “significant success, technical innovation or scientific achievement in the past calendar year.”
Further, FreeFall Aerospace earned “Innovation Leader of the Year” at the 2019 Southern Arizona Tech + Business Expo. The Innovation Leader of the Year Award recognizes a Southern Arizona company for its achievements in “helping transform its respective industries through innovation, new products and promoting the technology sector in the region” according to the award description.
DOUG STETSON – PRESIDENT
Doug Stetson is President and CEO of FreeFall Aerospace, a small business dedicated to advancing and developing innovative antenna technology for satellite communications and 5G internet applications. Prior to founding FreeFall in 2016, Doug spent nearly 30 years at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a variety of technical and management positions including several assignments at NASA Headquarters. At JPL, he had lead roles in systems engineering and mission design for a number of high-profile missions to Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and was responsible for the development of new planetary mission concepts and programs. Doug led the development of a number of mission and technology “roadmaps” for the national science community and NASA, and established new initiatives for mission and system innovation and cost assessment. During his three tours at NASA Headquarters, Doug served as the deputy manager of the NASA Advanced Planning and Integration Office, coordinated development of the Agency’s 2003 Strategic Plan, and served as acting chief of Planetary Advanced Studies in the early 1990’s. After leaving JPL in 2008, Doug established the Space Science and Exploration Consulting Group and was project manager for the LightSail mission, a privately-funded Cubesat that successfully deployed and tested a solar sail in Earth orbit. Doug holds a B.S. in Physics and M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. He is the recipient of a number of local and national awards, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the JPL Award for Excellence in Leadership.
ALEX RODRIGUEZ – Chief Operating Officer
Alex Rodriguez is Chief Operations Officer at FreeFall Aerospace, an early-stage technology company that provides proprietary revolutionary intelligent antenna systems for space and ground data transmission. FreeFall’s unique antenna technology provides high data rate communication at virtually any frequency at a fraction of the size and cost of any existing solution. Alex recently served as Vice President of Government & External Relations at Vector Launch, Inc., a small-class rocket company, where he helped the Founding Team raise investment capital and win its first major government contract. Alex led Vector’s external relationships with international, national, state and local jurisdictions and spearheaded investor relations.
Alex served as Vice President of the Arizona Technology Council where he turned around and expanded Southern Arizona operations providing strategic value to over 800 technology businesses and organizations. Alex served as Facilitator of the Arizona Aerospace, Aviation and Defense CEO Network. Alex earned his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government with concentrations in International Trade and Finance and International Security in 1997. He obtained his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Arizona in 1994 and is a graduate of the New Mexico Military Institute. He completed Army ROTC as a Distinguished Military Graduate, becoming an Army Officer at twenty years of age in 1991. Alex is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and completed a rigorous public policy institute at the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management of Carnegie Mellon University in 1993.
The son of a first-generation working class family, Alex was raised as the youngest of ten children and was the first child with the privilege to graduate from college. He is an avid reader, enjoys playing racquetball and playing the drums on his free time. Alex is married to the former Claudia Araiza and they are the proud parents of Emi Sofia, an avid performer with the Ballet Conservatory of Southern Arizona, and Alexander, who as an October 2019 newborn is purportedly the new one in charge at home!
JULIE BONNER – MARKETING DIRECTOR
Julie Bonner, Marketing Director for FreeFall, connects partners, vendors, and investors to FreeFall’s intelligent antenna systems. She’s created marketing campaigns and collateral for national corporations like Mister Car Wash and Clear Channel Outdoor, to Tucson-based start-ups and non-profits. She has been awarded the Tucson AdFed Next Generation Award for making a significant impact on the advertising industry through leadership, career achievements and personal qualities, which also inspire others to excel. She is also active in Start-Up Tucson, Arizona Technology Council and Local First Arizona. Julie holds a Bachelors of Science in Graphic Design from Drexel University and a Masters in Business.
ZACH YENTZER – HOST, The Creative City Show
Zach Yentzer is the host of The Creative City Show which shares the stories and strategies of the people and ideas shaping Tucson’s future. It is the only live radio broadcast and on-demand podcast in Tucson dedicated to envisioning, discussing, and debating the issues defining a thriving city. He is also the Executive Director of the Tucson Young Professionals. Their mission is to retain, attract, and promote young professionals inTucson. It is a group of diverse young professionals working together to showcase Tucson as a place for growth and prosperity. TYP is a place for the next generation of business and community leaders to share their ideas, test their insight, and participate in dynamic conversation. The focus of the organization is to provide members with opportunities to build relationships with the local community and its leaders and inspire like-minded professionals into making Tucson a better place to live, work and play.
The Creative City Show with Zach Yentzer shares the stories and strategies of the people and ideas shaping Tucson’s future, covering weekly issues surrounding:
- Technology and Innovation: Research and development of new products and services for the 4IR (4th Industrial Revolution)
- Entrepreneurship and SME (Small-to-Midsize Business): Exploration of the backbone of our local economy and how Tucson maintains its regional competitiveness.
- Neighborhoods and Urban Planning: Discussion of the elements of a great neighborhood including walkability, city services, safety, and Smart Growth.
- Housing and Affordability: Consideration of the types of housing and density needed to provide housing affordability and accessibility in Tucson, and ways to mitigate gentrification and displacement.
- Water and Sustainability: Exploration of innovative solutions for making our commercial and residential areas more sustainable, and preserving and expanding our water sources.
- Land Use and Development: Envisioning and promoting strategic growth and development that simultaneously preserves our history and enhances the experience of the buildings, streets, and open spaces that conserve Tucson’s special character.
- Economic Development and Branding: How do we take advantage of our local assets and opportunities to grow our economy and retain and attract people and ideas?
FreeFall is developing revolutionary new antenna technology for ground, air, and space. Their innovative spherical antennas are drawing interest from a wide variety of commercial and government organizations, offering wide field of view, electronic steering, and low mass to dramatically simplify and improve satellite communications. The company’s unique antennas for the coming 5G wireless world are unlike anything else on the market and enable high-frequency, steerable communications for Smart Cities, connected vehicles, and the Internet of Things. FreeFall was founded in Tucson as a spin-off from the University of Arizona and maintains a close connection with UA faculty and supporters.