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joseph rios
Chief Engineer - UTM Project, NASA

Dr. Joseph Rios serves as the Chief Engineer for NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) project.  He is responsible for coordinating the technical research of managing small drones at scale in a decentralized manner.  UTM originated from NASA Ames in Silicon Valley, Joseph’s home Center, and he leads the technical effort of transitioning UTM from a concept to a field-tested system with broad stakeholder support.

Joseph has been with NASA since 2007 and his work generally focuses on computational and data issues related to the National Airspace System.  Prior to UTM, he worked on large-scale optimization models for traffic flow management, data exchange schemas for air traffic, and tools for general aviation pilots flying in remote locations.  This breadth of projects has provided him with a unique perspective on how to safely, efficiently, and equitably move traffic through the airspace and the primacy of data in that process.

 Joseph’s dual undergraduate degree in pure mathematics and film/video theory affords him the ability to write a formal proof that Cool Hand Luke is one of the best films of all time. After teaching high school in Papua New Guinea via the Peace Corps, Joseph obtained his M.S. in Computer Science from Cal State Hayward, followed by a PhD in Computer Engineering from UC Santa Cruz.  He feels strongly that writing about oneself in the third person is a lost art.