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Q&A with Leazar Award recipient Shaun Deardorff

Shaun Deardorff

Shaun Deardorff, a senior in aerospace engineering, is the 2023 recipient of the John and Linda Leazar Award in Entrepreneurship. This award supports NC State students who have demonstrated initiative and a commitment to entrepreneurial excellence in support of their own personal ambitions as well as the support of NC State Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Deardorff is a modern “Renaissance man” who has been a champion of innovation and entrepreneurship while at NC State. He is a multi-talented, creative, and driven entrepreneur, with strengths in creative problem-solving, critical thinking, and resilience. He is intrinsically motivated and an ambitious, visionary leader committed to building a better world.

Read more about his student experiences and how the Leazar Award will support his company’s production process and reach.

Q: Tell us about yourself and your entrepreneurial passions.

I am a senior at North Carolina State University, majoring in aerospace engineering with a minor in business entrepreneurship. During my time at NC State, I have worked in various internships including as a design and manufacturing engineer at SpaceX, manufacturing engineer at Rocket Lab, and as a project management engineer at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). On campus, I serve as a director of the Krispy Kreme Challenge, senior structures engineer and structures financial team lead at Liquid Rocketry Lab, Entrepreneurship Ambassador, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Ambassador, a Social Innovation Fellow, undergrad researcher at AERPAW, photographer and videographer for The Technician, founder and president of Yes Theory NC State, model for NCSU Wolfpack, member of the NC State Ultimate Frisbee Team, founder of the NCSU Skydiving Club, and member of NCSU Ski and Snowboard Club.I am also an Eagle Scout, a professional and licensed UAV pilot, course instructor at Wake Tech Community College, commercial pilot in training, screen actor, professional artist, professional juggler and an avid adventure traveler and storyteller.

I started my first business when I was 10 years old, and have since started 5 other businesses, ranging from a lawn care business and a restaurant, to an art business and a drone company. I currently serve as the founder and CEO of Airmage LLC, a professional film production company that aims to elevate filmmaking and photography to a higher perspective, specializing in aerial production work, shooting commercials, advertisements and short films, and having worked with clients such as Amazon, Nike, Outback Steakhouse, Coca Cola, and AirBnB.

In the coming years, I plan to create and establish a multidisciplinary network of companies specializing in various uses for autonomous AI-driven aerial transport for the delivery of goods and services, drone shows, and interplanetary space exploration, innovating the way humans receive goods and services, increasing human connection and helping to save more lives.

Q: How will the Leazar Award advance your company’s goals?

The Leazar award will help to promote production progress for Airmage LLC by allowing us to further scale our film productions, upgrade our equipment, reach a larger audience, and increase our marketing efforts to elevate our presence.

It was a surprise to receive such a gracious gift and I am truly humbled and honored to be this year’s recipient of the Leazar Award! Thank you for allowing me to continue doing what I love as an entrepreneur and helping me to inspire others to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset and charter new ideas and innovations that will change the world.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

I plan to attend graduate school to pursue a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering, hopefully at Stanford, as well as pursue an MBA in Business Entrepreneurship, and I’m also hoping to pursue a Fulbright Fellowship to continue my research with UAVs in Namibia to help prevent rhino poaching using drones. Upon graduation from graduate school, I plan to continue pre-professional and pilot training for candidacy to NASA’s Artemis Astronaut program, and in the meantime, I aim to create a new start-up that is a multi-faceted drone company to help with humanitarian aid and transport.

Congratulations to the deserving recipient!

This post was originally published in Entrepreneurship News.