TechFest XVII Keynote Speaker

Major Brandon Dotson was commissioned as an Aviation Officer in the United States Army in May 2010, as a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, with a double major in Physics with Honors and Chemistry with Honors.  Following graduation, he was awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship and attended graduate school at the California Institute of Technology.  Completing a Master’s degree in Physics, Brandon also served as a Research Assistant at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in advanced propulsion development, as well as a Research Assistant at the Space Radiation Lab, characterizing solar energetic particles and space weather.

After Caltech, Brandon attended flight school through the U.S. Army, learning to fly the AH-64D Apache helicopter.  He graduated as the Honor Graduate for the AH-64D course in 2013 and was assigned as a Platoon Leader and Company Commander with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY.  As an attack helicopter pilot, Brandon deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Resolute Support and Operation Freedom Sentinel.  While deployed, he completed a second Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering through the Georgia Institute of Technology, with a focus on aircraft design and chemical rocket propulsion.

Applying his aviation and engineering experience, Brandon graduated with Class 155 from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 2019 and was assigned as an Experimental Test Pilot at the U.S. Army’s Aviation Flight Test Directorate in Huntsville, AL.   As an Experimental Test Pilot, Brandon flew developmental flight test missions for Army rotary and fixed wing aircraft. He also served as the Test Lead for the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift program, developing new aircraft to replace the Army’s Blackhawk, Apache, and Kiowa Warrior helicopters.

In July 2022, Brandon assumed the role of Assistant Project Manager for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation in Orlando, FL.   In this new assignment, Brandon overseas the testing, prototyping, production, and fielding of new aviation and ground vehicle training simulators for the Army.   At the same time, Brandon is also completing a PhD in Physics at the University of Central Florida with a focus on rocket exhaust interaction with lunar soil.

Brandon is an Eagle Scout, a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), a certified scuba instructor, a licensed parachutist, and holds an FAA commercial rating for helicopters, airplanes, gliders, and seaplanes.  He recently spent a month and a half in Nepal, volunteering as an EMT and trekking to the high-altitude base camp of Mt. Everest.  Brandon was among the final 30 candidates being considered by NASA for the most recent class of Astronauts, with over 12,000+ applications received.