Marcie Morrison Still Blazing Trails, Now as Aviation Entrepreneur

Thursday, March 16, 2023
Photo collage showing Marcie and Adam Morrison and their drones.

Mechanical engineering alumna Marcie Morrison and her husband, Adam (2000 graduate), co-founded a family-owned business that specializes in providing innovative aviation solutions for clients that include Walmart and Intel.

The logo for an entrepreneurial aviation technology startup co-founded by trailblazing 1999 mechanical engineering alumna Marcie Morrison features a paper airplane that’s soaring upward into a clear blue sky.

Her career pathway is taking a similar trajectory these days thanks to a can-do attitude that’s developing innovative unmanned aircraft, enabling solutions for light sport aircraft, and authoring and interpreting standards for an industry that’s soaring – or more appropriately flying – at supersonic rates.

Leading-edge flight technology has helped people travel safely and efficiently across the world, has been featured in a commercial broadcast during a nationally televised college football game, and has brought projects with clients such as the Office of National Intelligence, Intel Corporation and Walmart Inc. 

The sky may be the limit for the enterprise, Streamline Designs, that Marcie and her husband, fellow mechanical engineering graduate Adam Morrison, started in 2002 from their home nestled in Indianapolis’ southern suburbs. At first, the consulting business assisted companies interested in developing light aircraft, including unmanned drones. About a decade ago they started designing, building and testing the flying machines commercially.

And these aren’t simple drones being used for fun and leisure, but rather intricate mechanical devices designed for real work and service. 

Streamline Designs refined a series of their own six-propeller, hexagon-shaped drones for the University of Notre Dame’s IDEA Center. These aircraft and the technology they carry are available for commercialization in drone response technology that may help law enforcement and public safety officials find missing people in vast forest settings, assist with fire rescues, and examine the chemical content within hazardous spills. The research project represents continuing work supported by the National Science Foundation. As the couple points out, the applications for this technology are endless.

“The pace of unmanned (drones) and light sport aircraft is revolutionary and [Streamline Designs] is right on the horizon of that exciting space,” said Adam, a 2000 alumnus who had a concentration in aerospace – knowing that an engineering degree was the tool to realize his aviation career interests. He is Streamline Designs’ chief executive officer. “What the public is seeing about drone technology is six to 10 months behind, if not more, than where the industry is and where it’s headed,” he said.

Marcie, the company’s chief marketing officer, added, “Really, we’ve always been there, with a lot of design ideas, but the regulators just needed to catch up with the industry … We’re offering products that are unique in terms of serviceability, repairability, and providing support for companies that want something out-of-the-box. We’re looking for interesting clients who want to do interesting things.” 

Being ahead of the curve has been in a fixture of Marcie’s vivacious personality. She was among the first high school girls to explore their science, engineering and mathematics interests through Rose-Hulman’s popular Operation Catapult summer program. Then, in the fall of 1995, the Hawaii native was a member of the institute’s inaugural first-year class of women students.

“I was looking for a college that was culturally different (than Hawaii) and would offer me a personal challenge. I’m a generalist and like to do a lot of different things. Rose-Hulman was a good fit for me,” said Marcie, who met Adam as laboratory partners in several classes. “There was a unique sense of camaraderie on campus that really spoke to me. There’s a learning community of students, faculty and staff that’s truly committed to doing new things and working together for a common purpose.”

The Morrisons worked as engineers with Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis before taking a leap of faith to start their own business.

Marcie is a third-generation entrepreneur who’s augmenting principles of aerospace, mechatronics, automation, and composites to take clients’ dreams to computer aided designs to prototype and, eventually, flight. She and Adam, along with 2000 mechanical engineering alum Zac Cole and 2002 mechanical engineering graduate David Moser patented an all-terrain landing gear for drones , applying techniques used by water strider bugs. Their entrepreneurial spirit has led the Morrisons to become members of Rose-Hulman’s Sawmill Society, a group of alumni who support Rose-Hulman’s ongoing innovative mindset.

Educational lessons learned at Rose-Hulman have helped guide Marcie in more than business. She also home educates their six children, aged 4 to 17 years old.

“The way we learned at Rose has influenced how we do things at work and at home,” Marcie stated. “Working in a quarter-based academic environment where you have to do things quickly, understand the material, and output quality work has served Adam and me well. It has helped us be adaptable, digest and understand all of the information that’s coming at us, along with being able to ask the right questions. That saves time in the design, testing and production processes.

She added, “Rose continues to do things that are a little bit unorthodox. There, it was OK to try new things, work your way through challenging problems, see what worked, and, quite possibly, learn through failure. We operate that same way as a business and as a family. We’re not afraid to try something, stretching boundaries, maybe going in a different direction, and seeing if it is going to serve us well. We’re diligent about capturing what our vision of success is and trying different things to get closer to that success.”