ANRA is growing rapidly, and as we continue to bring on fresh talent to join our global teams, we decided to introduce you to our existing and new members in the form of an Employee Spotlight. First up is David Murphy, AKA “Murf Meister”, ANRA’s Chief Architect and Product Manager at the Washington DC office. Read about his role and what makes him tick
Q: What motivates you to wake up and go to work every day?
A: As a private pilot who has spent his entire professional career working in aviation, I am naturally drawn to the domain of drones. At ANRA, I am able to work on challenges of drone integration into legacy airspaces from every angle: concept development, software development, standards development, simulations, and flight trials. Each day I am motivated to get out of bed because I know that I have an opportunity to make a direct impact in ushering in this new era of aviation. That… and the mewls of my dog as she anticipates her morning walk!
Q: What do you do at ANRA?
A: My primary responsibility at ANRA is managing the development and operations of our various products and services. This often includes engaging our external partners and customers to elicit technical and programmatic requirements. I also collaborate with our talented development teams to achieve appropriate solutions and schedules. My day-to-day involvement in accomplishing these tasks can take many forms and requires adaptation within my role, which makes working within the field of drones an exciting career path.
Q: What has been your favorite project so far?
A: My favorite project has been the UTM Pilot Program Phase 2 (UPP2). Before joining ANRA, I was aware of the UPP2 and its Technical Capability Level (TCL) predecessors, but did not have the opportunity to directly engage with them. These programs were always of great interest to me as they pursued cutting edge research in drone integration into the national airspace. Shortly after joining ANRA, I became fully immersed in UPP2 and this research environment – a true realization of my goals in joining the ANRA team. This effort also allowed me to network with all the great individuals across industry and government who are participating in this unified goal of drone integration.
Q: What’s something most colleagues don’t know about you?
A: Despite my present metropolitan surroundings in Washington, D.C., my roots take me back to the country. I grew up in a small town in the Northern California valley, surrounded by almond orchards and rice farms. My grandparents had a 2,000-acre rice farm where I spent most of my summers working as a ranch hand. I have more hours piloting tractors than I do aircraft – perhaps why I have a natural ability of flying on centerline. I value this upbringing as above all else it taught me the meaning of hard work.
Q: What is your proudest moment at ANRA?
A: In my previous job I was working in the drone domain and ANRA consistently popped up in all the preeminent projects and programs. I respected ANRA’s presence and contributions to the drone integration effort a great deal. That said, joining ANRA’s team in and of itself was a proud moment for me.
Q: What have you gained from working at ANRA?
A: At ANRA, there is no shortage of opportunities to learn. My engagement in different projects and collaborations across the globe consistently provides challenges that require creative solutions. Additionally, the ANRA team consists of an extremely talented set of engineers that have exposed me to new software technologies and practices.
Q: Describe what you were like at age 10?
A: For better or worse, I was fairly similar to how I am now. I had a lot more hair on my head back then, but I would like to think I would be proud of the beard I can grow today.
Q: Do you have an office nickname? What is it?
A: Not that I am aware of… As such, I think this is a rare opportunity to influence the genesis of my own nickname: “Murf Meister.” Let’s see if it sticks.
Q: If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
A: Immediate response is Jackson Browne. He is my favorite musical artist and I have spent much of my life appreciating his work. His music is moving and his lyrics are contemplative. I would love to meet the man behind the songs. Fortunately, he is still alive. So Jackson, if you are reading this, please contact me!
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I enjoy traveling with my wife and engaging in various team sports through the great leagues offered here in D.C. I also enjoy spending time playing music. As an amateur musician on a few instruments, it is nice taking time to tinker around and improve my musical skillsets.
Q: Who are your heroes in aviation history?
A: As a lifetime aviation enthusiast I could go on and on about the early aviation pioneers, the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo astronauts, and the ground-breaking figures of today. While I admire these individuals, I would have to say that my aviation heroes are my Grandpa Don and Uncle Bob. My grandpa was an accomplished civil pilot of fixed wing and rotorcraft alike. My uncle continues to be a life-long professional pilot whose career has spanned the Air Force, airline industry, and even continues today in (semi) retirement as a mechanic of his local Commemorative Air Force wing. Both sponsored and encouraged my own pilot training and instilled the respect and devotion to pilotage that I carry with me every day in my work at ANRA. I can certainly say that I would not be working in this field without them.
Q: We are in the dawn of unmanned aviation. What are the potential applications that excite you most?
A: Air taxis and other Urban Air Mobility applications are truly futuristic concepts that seem to be right on our doorstep. I spend most of my day thinking about how Urban Air Mobility applications will impact airspace, but it is interesting to think about how these drone applications will impact society itself. Each technological boom has a profound impact on its coincident generations. Will I tell my grandkids about what it was like to have to travel to the supermarket myself…in a car of all things?! We will see.
Q: If you could fly anything, what would it be?
A: A North American T-6 Texan. I really like the old warbirds as they embody stick-and-rudder core piloting coupled with raw power. I got an opportunity to take a flight in a T-6 through my uncle’s involvement in his Commemorative Air Force wing. Ever since that experience I have been aching to get back into the cockpit!