CSU grad helps Amazon’s first drone delivery get airborne

Amazon Prime Air drone
An Amazon Prime Air drone prepares to land at a testing facility in Cambridgeshire. (Photo courtesy of Amazon)

Launching from a high-tech fulfillment center nestled into the English countryside, an Amazon multi-rotor drone gently whirs into action as it begins its maiden voyage over centuries old churches and pristine farmland to complete the company’s first unmanned aerial delivery.

Portrait of Eric Berlinberg
Eric Berlinberg, a program manager on Amazon’s drone delivery team

Three years after Amazon announced the e-commerce titan’s plans to explore drone delivery, the blue and white quadcopter settled onto a small landing pad in a Cambridgeshire resident’s backyard, dropping off tech goodies and a bag of popcorn.

Eric Berlinberg, a Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University’s College of Business, has been serving as a program manager with Amazon Prime Air since 2015, leading the project’s global business operations and program management offices.

“We’re changing the world, one delivery at a time. So incredibly proud of the entire team,” wrote Berlinberg in an Instagram post celebrating his group’s successful launch and efforts to bring the company’s delivery times under 30 minutes.

The leading edge

Although many people were first skeptical of Amazon’s drone program and dismissed it as a PR stunt, it’s become clear that the company is making a calculated investment.

According to reporting by The New York Times, Amazon’s focus has been on finding new ways to deliver products faster, and for less money, by streamlining the company’s supply chain operations, an arena that has become increasingly competitive.

And Berlinger has been working on the leading edge of the industry’s rapid growth, empowered by his education from CSU.

Taking off from CSU

The first Amazon Prime Air delivery took only 13 minutes to complete.

Susan Golicic, an associate professor in the College of Business Department of Management, had Berlinberg in her advanced supply chain management courses.

“We are really proud that he is a grad of our program,” said Golicic. “He was an outstanding student and very involved in class.”

Berlinberg, who concentrated in Organization and Innovation Management with an emphasis on Supply Chain Management, has been returning to the college as an alumnus to take part in business forums, talk to current students, and share his experiences leading teams through transformational growth.

After years of planning, Berlinberg is excited to be able to finally share the project with the world.

The College of Business at Colorado State University was founded in 1966 and consistently ranks among the top 10 percent of business schools in the nation. With over 2,300 undergraduate students in Fort Collins, and the largest MBA program in the state, the College of Business strives to fulfill the University’s land-grant mission by increasing access to education, promoting research, serving the community, and pursuing academic excellence.