Aerospace Tech Company Skyryse Takes Engineering Team to New Heights

The company’s highly automated flight technology has drawn a talented team of engineers — and just as Skyryse has grown, so, too, has the team culture. Learn more about the spirit of collaboration and alignment that drives its high performance.

Written by Taylor Rose
Published on Oct. 30, 2023
Aerospace Tech Company Skyryse Takes Engineering Team to New Heights
Skyryse
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Becoming a helicopter pilot can take anywhere from a few months to two years — depending on how much time someone can invest. 

Imagine if the process of learning how to fly was much quicker and yet just as safe. What if, instead of a sea of complicated controls, a new pilot could sit down in a cockpit with two iPad screens and first-of-its-kind simplified controls and fly on their own? 

It might seem impossible, but with the technology that Skyryse is developing, this is not an unlikely scenario. 

Skyryse is an aerospace tech company that created a software that is intended to make flying easier and safer. Wired calls Skyryse’s tech the “airplane version of Tesla’s autopilot.” But today, humans are still the ultimate decision makers.

The software is an interesting approach compared to other aviation companies who have an eye on autonomous flying. Instead of building new aircraft equipped for autonomous flying, Skyryse’s software can be retrofitted to any aircraft. The compatibility will enable the company to scale more quickly as it adapts to further developments in aviation and automated technology.

 

ABOUT SKYRYSE

Skyryse is an aviation tech company that is building an advanced flight control system designed to make flying safer and more accessible for all. The company’s technology  can be retrofitted for any aircraft bringing commercial-level safety to general aviation.

 

A Swift Rise

The ascent of Mark Groden, CEO and founder of Skyryse, came swiftly in both the tech and aviation industries. CNBC reports that by the time Groden was 16, he had invented an unmanned aerial vehicle for the Air Force. In 2016, at the age of 26, he founded Skyryse.

Since then, Skyryse has expanded to over 86 employees. Talent from reputable companies like  Airbus, Boeing, SpaceX, Tesla, Ford and the U.S. military have all joined the team. 

On the engineering team, Skyryse’s growth is also continuing to pick up speed — growth that hinges upon collaboration and alignment. 

“We have multiple teams working on parallel efforts that must converge to achieve critical program milestones,” said Vice President of Engineering Steve O’Connor. “To ensure alignment, we’ve created high-level roadmaps and incrementally built plans.” 

O’Connor notes that the approach helps them identify integration challenges early, and keep the entire team focused on the right priorities. 

“It ensures that we stay on track,” he added. 

As the company grows, Skyryse continues to add folks to the team who are eager to be part of an actively moving product — and bring that hunger to the table every day. 

“We hold a special admiration for candidates who radiate a proactive ‘can-do’ spirit and who possess a passion for their work, be it in the realms of technology or administration,” said Vice President of Operations Rika Jain. “We believe that it’s this passion and determination that propels us towards our achievements, regardless of our roles.”

 

“We believe that passion and determination propel us towards our achievements, regardless of our roles.”

 

Those achievements were evaluated in the real world when Skyryse worked with the city of Tracy, California, to equip its first responders’ air evacuation helicopters with Skyryse software for a test period in 2018. The idea was to put the technology into practice with meaningful applications — making the need to bring on the right team members even more important. 

“Our team's current goal is to expand our test engineering capabilities,” said Systems Test Engineering Lead Alan Lee. “We're looking for test engineers from all backgrounds who can work in a fast-paced environment while always maintaining the core value of safety.”

 

High-Performing Teams Build a Thriving Culture

Skyryse’s tagline reveals ambitious goals: “We want to make flying as ubiquitous as the road and as safe as the elevator.” To reach aims of that level, the team at Skyryse is constantly striving to do better. 

“Culture drives high performance,” commented O’Connor. “Aligning teams with our values and goals, fostering value-based leadership and entrusting decision-making empowers us with speed, agility and efficiency.” 

Speed is an understatement. In addition to Skyryse’s work with the city of Tracy, the company has also launched the highest volume of door-to-door air-taxi service in the world, and just signed a deal to retrofit Air Methods’ EMS fleet of airplanes and rotorcrafts. In addition, the company closed the largest series B funding round in aerospace history, coming in at $205 million. 

Jain noted that the culture of Skyryse’s team centers on growth, but in a  way that supports unity and cohesion. 

“At the heart of our team’s success lies a commitment to clear communication and a dedication to keeping each team member well prepared,” she explained. “Beyond that is a habit of mutual support, where we extend our helping hands and leave no one behind.”

Lee sees a lot of collaboration and trust being passed around on the engineering team. 

“Our team truly values ownership,” he added. “We entrust each and every member of our team with a high level of responsibility, especially responsibilities that suit their interests. Our goal is for our team members to be able to grow to their full potential while also feeling that they’ve made a meaningful contribution to our mission.”

Communication seems to be a constant among the various teams at Skyryse. One small way that the company embodies the idea is through monthly celebrations to highlight the triumphs while looking ahead to the future. 

“We make sure to honor those exceptional teams whose collaborative spirit propels us forward,” said Jain. “We shine a spotlight on a team that embodies effective collaboration, a cornerstone of our success. Our culture thrives on solving challenges together and reaching ever greater heights.”

“We all prefer awareness to working in a silo,” added Lee. “There is so much opportunity to learn from what others have done, as well as to offer feedback and build upon others’ ideas.”

 

“We all prefer awareness to working in a silo. There is so much opportunity to learn from what others have done, offer feedback and build upon ideas.”

 

And just as the company and its tech has grown and evolved, Lee has seen similar growth in Skyryse’s culture. 

“I have noticed a greater willingness to challenge the way things are being done and find ways to be more effective,” he explained. 

“I often gauge team culture by how much I look forward to going to work the next day,” Lee continued. “When I look forward to working with the team in the lab, I feel that I personally work more effectively, am less stressed and am more fulfilled.”

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Skyryse.

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