Challenge Supporters

Mentor & Advisor: Aaron Prescott

Aaron Prescott, Business Development, Spaceport America


Aaron Prescott manages all of Spaceport America’s aerospace business development, and is responsible for expanding the agency’s business portfolio worldwide through acquisition of new aerospace tenants and customers to the spaceport.  


Mr. Prescott has worked in a number of key strategic roles from concept through development of Spaceport America, including developing new revenue streams through licensing, merchandising, consumer services, bond financing, sponsorship and grants. He now leads go-to-market strategy and execution for our mission to host the future of the commercial space industry. When not in the market, Aaron can be found sharing his passion for space with students as part of Spaceport America’s STEM outreach program.


An engineer by training, Mr. Prescott holds a BSE in Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University, as well as an MBA with a focus on space systems.


Prior to joining Spaceport America, he worked with Payload Systems, Inc., a small aerospace firm where, among other things, he helped design, fabricate and test a formation flying spaceflight experiment called SPHERES, which flew aboard Progress M-56 to the International Space Station in 2006.


Judge & Mentor: Ali Sorbi

Ali Sorbi, Founder and Principal, Pendulum Advisors 


Ali Sorbi is the founder and principal of Pendulum Advisors, a Tyson’s Corner based consulting firm specializing in Financial Planning, M&A, and Reporting.


Prior to starting Pendulum Advisors, Ali had strong and successful career in corporate FP&A with multiple publicly traded companies. Ali started his career at E*TRADE and Cox Communications after having received his double degree Accounting Information Systems and Finance from Virginia Tech. Ali then transitioned to a finance role with Beers and Cutler PLLC, a Tyson's Corner based consulting company, where he worked directly with the CFO to manage all finance functions prior to their acquisition by Baker Tilley. 


Ali joined Rosetta Stone immediately after their IPO, as the Manager of FP&A he worked closely with C-level management to help develop their budgets, external reporting and market guidance.  After leaving Rosetta Stone, Ali was the VP of FP&A and CFO of Geeknet, Inc., a publicly traded internet company based out of Fairfax, VA.  As VP of FP&A and CFO, Ali managed all aspects of day to day finance; and worked directly with the CEO and Board of Directors on restructuring the company and spearheaded a $20 million M&A transaction.

Most Recently, Ali was a member of the management team that applied for and was awarded an unprecedented six medical marijuana licenses in the state of Nevada.


Advisor: Aman Kumar

Aman Kumar, Office of the President, SAP Asia-Pacific Japan


Aman Kumar is a member of the IMPACT leadership program sponsored by the Office of the CEO at SAP SE.  He is also special advisor to the CIO of the Republic of Estonia and consultant to startups in Silicon Valley and Boston.  Aman recently co-launched the beta expansion of e-Residency, Estonia’s innovative digital identity system, in Tallinn, Estonia. He was previously the head of strategic marketing at MobileIron, Inc., an enterprise mobile startup in Silicon Valley. Working with the CEO and executive team, he was responsible for strategic planning, consumer product definition,and application partnerships for the organization before its IPO in 2014.


Prior to MobileIron, Aman was an engineering program manager at Apple Inc., responsible for the design and delivery of elements of iOS, the iPhone and iPad operating system. Before this he co-launched Google Audio Indexing as a product manager at Google, Inc., extending the company’s search technology to speech recognition. Aman began his career in advanced research engineering at SAP Labs, LLC and interned at the world’s largest hedge fund.


Aman remains affiliated to Stanford University as a visiting scholar in the mediaX program. From 2009 to 2013 he co-led Stanford’s research into digital media multitasking featured in CNN, Reuters, and other international media outlets. A lifelong stutterer, Aman is a proud member of the board of directors of the American Institute for Stuttering and the advisory board of the National Stuttering Association. He is a senior advisor and former vice-chairman of the Academy of United States Presidential Scholars, the country’s highest honor for secondary school graduates. Aman has spoken at universities and conferences in the United States, Europe, and Asia on topics including mobile security, e-government, digital media, and entrepreneurship, and is a member of the strategic speakers initiative of the United States Department of State.


Aman graduated with departmental honors, university distinction, and Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a B.S.

in Symbolic Systems, specializing in human-computer interaction. He has an M.S. in Computer Science with distinction in

research, specializing in artificial intelligence, from Stanford University. He holds a certificate in entrepreneurship and

innovation from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the GlaxoSmithKline award, and an M.B.A

from Harvard Business School. In 2005 Aman was named the United States Presidential Scholar for the State of California

by President George W. Bush.


Advisor: Andrew Levy

Andrew Levy, Mobile Marketing, Sales, and Client Strategist, Twitter 


Andrew Levy oversees Twitter's mobile marketing, sales, and client strategy efforts across the company's integrated mobile app promotion suite. He is responsible for designing and managing multi-million dollar mobile/social performance marketing and advertising campaigns for the world's leading mobile apps, brands, and agencies. 


Previously, Andrew was one of the first revenue org hires at TapCommerce, the global leader in mobile app retargeting & re-engagement (acquired by Twitter for $100mm), where he helped define the company's sales strategy and operational processes and drove early client acquisition.


Andrew is an expert in entrepreneurial ecosystem development, having led entrepreneurial/startup support efforts in three of the country's top startup hubs: Austin, Boston metro, and NYC. He was a founding member of the management team and steering committee at Founders League, one of the largest entrepreneurial support platforms in New England, and has supported efforts at top national accelerators such as Betaspring and Techstars. 


Mr. Levy was a technology commercialization & strategy consultant at the Austin Technology Incubator, where portfolio companies have raised in excess of $1 billion of investor capital and seen exits to companies like Home Depot, Qualcomm, IBM, Daimler, Salesforce, etc. He ran the University of Texas accelerator program and led team consulting projects for IP-spinouts in computer vision, 3D printing, cyber security, e-commerce, and mobile payments.


Andrew is an active advisor to startups and entrepreneurs and formerly operated growth consulting firm Redbud Strategies. Before entering the tech world, he was an equities trader for nearly 4 years.


Judge & Advisor: Andrew Sikora

Andrew Sikora, Ph.D, Co-Director of the Head and Neck Cancer Program, Baylor College of Medicine


Andrew Sikora is associate professor of otolaryngology and vice chair for research, Carolyn Wiess Law Research Scholar, and co-director of the Head and Neck Cancer Program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Sikora then completed a residency in otolaryngology at New York University Medical Center, followed by a clinical fellowship in Head and Neck Surgical Oncology and a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer immunotherapy at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.


Dr. Sikora’s research interests include understanding and reversing mechanisms of tumor-mediated immunosuppression, and the immunobiology of HPV-related head and neck cancer. He is the principal investigator of observational and therapeutic clinical trials designed to understand the impact of standard-of-care therapies on anti-tumor immunity, and to test novel immune-based therapies in head and neck cancer. Dr. Sikora is also an avid mentor and educator whose trainees have received highly competitive awards from the Doris Duke Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, NIH, and the German Cancer Aid Foundation, among others.


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Judge & Mentor: Andy Putch

Andy Putch, Co-Founder, FreeSkies


Andy Putch is the co-founder of FreeSkies, a Bay Area software startup that is building a next-generation user experience for camera drones. FreeSkies is leveraging recently published Stanford computer graphics and human-computer interaction research to democratize drone technology for everyone. Andy is an alumni of the Lightspeed Venture Partners Summer Fellowship, Esri Startup Program, Silicon Valley Bank Trek, and was a finalist in the University of Illinois Cozad New Venture Competition. He has also won several startup pitch competitions including the San Francisco Startup SharkTank Showcase (not to be confused with ABC’s Shark Tank, we turned that one down), the Peter Thiel Under 20 Summit Startup Pitchoff, and DeveloperWeek’s Startup Breakthrough Competition. FreeSkies was selected as one of CNBC’s World’s Hottest Startups 2015 and has been featured on DJI’s developer showcase, CNBC’s Fast Money, and Jason Calacanis’s Launchfest 2016 Top Drone Startups. 


Before FreeSkies, he was an autonomous systems researcher with the University of Illinois, Bretl Research Group exploring emerging SLAM, visual-inertial odometry, and other GPS-denied UAS control systems. He has also worked as an aerospace and defense corporate strategy consultant with Renaissance Strategic Advisors and as a NASA Aeronautics Academy Fellow at the Armstrong Flight Research Center. Andy is an aerospace engineer, private pilot, Section 333 exempt UAS operator, and has been a featured speaker at several drone conferences and trade shows.


Advisor: Ariane Cornell

Ariane Cornell, Strategy and Business Development, Blue Origin, LLC


Ariane Cornell works on the Strategy and Business Development team for Blue Origin, LLC, a developer of vehicles and technologies to enable human space transportation. At Blue Origin, she focuses on the rocket engine and astronaut portfolios. 


Ariane was formerly based in Vienna, Austria as the Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council in Support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications (SGAC). She headed SGAC’s delegations to international conferences and the United Nations, as well as ran the organization’s operations, business development, strategy, and policy output.  Ariane has supported the international aerospace community in other capacities and organizations. She has served on the board of Women in Aerospace – Europe, has guest blogged for Space News, and has sat on several committees of the International Astronautical Federation and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  


Previously, Ariane worked in international management consulting, first with Accenture based in San Francisco and then with Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, DC. With Accenture, she lived and worked on IT projects in the Philippines, South Africa, Brazil, and the US. With Booz Allen Hamilton as a senior consultant in the aerospace and defense commercial consulting group, she helped develop strategies and solve operational issues for executives of the world’s top aerospace and defense companies.


Ariane earned an MBA from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in science, technology, and society, with a focus in management science and engineering, from Stanford University.


Judge: Benson Cheng

Benson Cheng, Ph.D, Investment Analyst, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)


Dr. Benson Cheng currently serves as an Investment Analyst at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the manager of the US National Laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS) currently in low-Earth orbit. CASIS is dedicated to supporting innovations that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet, and provides researchers with access to the unique microgravity facilities and extreme space environment on the ISS National Lab. At CASIS, Benson evaluates the economic potential of research and technology development projects received from a wide range of companies and proposers. Additionally, Benson helps to stimulate private investments in the New Space industry by connecting startups within CASIS’s pipeline and portfolio with potential external investors. Since its inception in July 2011, CASIS has provided more than $20M in seed funding to its portfolio.


Prior to joining CASIS, Benson worked as a Senior Venture Capital Analyst at Excell Partners, a seed and early stage venture capital firm supporting high-tech startups in the state of New York. At Excell, Benson sourced and evaluated new investments from a broad spectrum of industries ranging from medical devices and biotech, to material science and clean energy.


Benson is trained as a research scientist and received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in Microbiology and Immunology, where he developed novel live-attenuated vaccine therapeutics to combat highly pathogenic arena-viruses. Prior to his graduate studies, Benson received his B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley in Microbial Biology. To date, Benson has helped to advance the field of virology by contributing over 10 peer-reviewed publications and 1 book chapter to the scientific community.


Judge: Bob Liebeck

Bob Liebeck, Manager, Blended-Wing-Body (BWB) Airplane Program, Boeing


Bob Liebeck is currently manager of the Blended-Wing-Body (BWB) Airplane Program at Boeing. The BWB is an advanced concept subsonic transport configuration that offers a 30 percent reduction in fuel burn when compared to a conventional tube and wing configuration. In addition, the BWB offers a reduction in cumulative airport noise of 52 db below Stage III. In his 49 years at Boeing, Bob has also served as program manager on several classified advanced-concept airplane programs, some of which culminated in successful flight vehicles. He has an extensive list of technical publications, and his airfoil work is discussed in several textbooks on aerodynamics.


Bob is also Professor of the Practice of Aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Adjunct Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California Irvine where he teaches courses in aerodynamics, flight mechanics, and airplane design. He received BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign, and received the university's College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996. As a consultant, Bob has designed the wings for racing cars that have won the Indianapolis 500 and Formula 1 races. More recently, his wing has been selected for the NASCAR Car of Tomorrow. He also designed the keel section for the America3 yacht that won the Americas Cup in 1991 and the wing for a World Championship aerobatic airplane. This could be summarized as victory on land, sea and in the air. Bob is a Boeing Senior Technical Fellow, an AIAA Honorary Fellow, a recipient of the AIAA Aerodynamics Award, a recipient of the AIAA Aircraft Design Award, a recipient of the AIAA Wright Brothers Lectureship in Aeronautics, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a recipient of the ASME Spirit of St. Louis Medal, a recipient of the ICAS Award for Innovation in Aeronautics, a recipient of the Daniel Guggenheim Medal, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. In addition, Bob has been elected to the University of Illinois Engineering Hall of Fame, and is the recipient of The General Charles Yeager Award for Innovation in Aeronautics.


Judge & Advisor: Brienna Henwood

Brienna Henwood, Director of Corporate Business Development, ETC & Director, Space Training and Research, ETC’s The NASTAR Center


Brienna Henwood is the Director of Corporate Business Development for ETC, a manufacturer of interactive, VR to full G-force motion, simulation training and experience products for land, sea, air, space and beyond applications. Working directly under the CEO, she identifies new emerging technologies, enhances and expands product lines, and has secured new growth opportunities for ETC and its eight (8) major market areas including: aerospace, aeromedical, automotive, disaster management, entertainment, healthcare and sterilization.


Brienna still leads initiatives at ETC’s National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center in Philadelphia, PA where she was the full time Director of Space Training and Research. At NASTAR Center, she helped lead the company from infancy into an internationally recognized, FAA approved, global center for commercial astronaut training.


Brienna has instructed or helped instruct over six (6) dozen Space Training and Research courses with over 550 ‘future astronauts’ trained for space; including passengers for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, and Space Expedition Corporation’s XCor Lynx.

Brienna is an accomplished Marine Biologist, Astronaut Trainer, Certified Fitness Instructor, Published Researcher, Student Pilot, Master SCUBA Diver, and PR & Communications Executive with secured global media coverage on ABC, NBC, Good Morning America, Discovery Channel, History Channel, BBC, NHK, and others generating over 25 million impressions.

Brienna has a lifelong passion for exploration, travel, and health/fitness. Brienna has a BS degree in Biology and holds professional memberships in the Explorers Club, WIA, CSF, WAI, IAF, AIAA, IEEE, NSS, IAE, PADI and NAUI.


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Advisor: Carlos Grodsinsky

Carlos Grodsinsky, Ph.D, Chief Operations and Technology Officer, ZIN Technologies


Dr. Carlos Grodsinsky a principal and Chief Operations and Technology Officer of ZIN Technologies has over 25 years’ experience with IR&D, R&D, and product development/commercialization of active/passive vibration control, radiation detection, space flight physical and life science instrumentation and remote patient medical technologies. He has managed large programs and product development initiatives within both government and industry, with a proven record of successful technology development, transfer, and new product introductions both for government and private industry. He is a recognized expert in advanced dynamics, reduced gravity acceleration environments and control for ground and space based experimentation.  Most recently, Dr. Grodsinsky led a successful start-up co-owned by ZIN Technologies (ZIN) and The Cleveland Clinic (CC) offering remote patient management services based on astronaut health monitoring and countermeasure technologies commercialized by ZIN and CC.  This start-up was recently acquired by LifeWatch AG, offering remote patient management services.


Dr. Grodsinsky previously managed R&D for Optics and Oxides and the Radiation Detector business (medical, physics, and energy exploration) for Saint Gobain Crystals and Detectors.  Dr. Grodsinsky earned a Ph.D., and M.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Wayne State University, and a BA in Physics/Mathematics from Kalamazoo College. 


Judge: Dot Swanson

Dot Swanson, CFO, Johnson Space Center 

Dot Swanson’s professional career includes over 38 years of Financial Accounting and Auditing experience in both the private sector and Government service.  Ms. Swanson served as Chief Financial Officer of the Johnson Space Center from January 2010-December 2015.  As the CFO, she oversaw the financial health of the Center with an annual budget of $4.3B and ensured JSC resources were effectively deployed toward the achievement of NASA’s strategic plan.  She managed the budget and financial operations, the scope of which included budget development, cost estimating, cost assessment, and preparation of financial and budgetary reports.  


Dot joined the NASA team in 1991, where she served in a variety of increasingly responsible positions including Manager of the JSC Financial Systems Office and Deputy Chief Information Officer.


Throughout her career, she received numerous awards and accolades including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, Rotary Stellar Award Nomination, Integrated Financial Management Program Distinguished Service Award, and the Agency CFO Initiatives Award.  In addition, she was featured in the 2013 Diversity Journal Women Worth Watching issue.


Ms. Swanson holds a Bachelor of Business Administration, Accounting, with a minor in Economics and a concentration in Spanish.  In addition, she completed the 2008 Office of Personnel Management Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program, the Harvard Senior Executive Fellow Course in 2007, and represented NASA as the Office of E-Government and Information Technology Fellow in 2001.  She loves to travel and has lived abroad in Germany and Spain.  Her other hobbies include scuba diving and reading. 


Judge & Mentor: Ehtasham Sarwar

Ehtasham Sarwar, CEO, Soft Innovators UK Ltd

Ehtasham Sarwar is an entrepreneur and investor based in Oxford, UK. 

He is CEO of Soft Innovators UK Ltd, a software development firm, and acts as an advisor to startup businesses, as well as investing in technology startups.


With an extensive background in software development management, outsourcing and human resource, his professional career spans over 15 years.


Ehtasham is also a member of investor club (The Startup business platform of Mobile World Capital, Barcelona), and holds an MSc in Software Engineering from the University of Oxford.


Judge: Erika Wagner

Erika Wagner, Ph.D, Business Development Manager, Blue Origin 


Dr. Erika Wagner serves as Business Development Manager for Blue Origin, a developer of vehicles and technologies to enable human space transportation. Prior to joining Blue Origin, Dr. Wagner worked with the X PRIZE Foundation as Senior Director of Exploration Prize Development and founding Executive Director of the X PRIZE Lab@MIT. Previously, she served at MIT as Science Director and Executive Director of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program, a multi-university spacecraft development initiative to investigate the physiological effects of reduced gravity. From 2009 to 2012, Erika was a member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group, furthering the research and education potential of commercial suborbital launch vehicles. Today, she serves on the Boards of the Washington Aerospace Scholars and American Society for Gravitational and Space Research, as well as the National Academies Committee on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space.


Dr. Wagner’s interdisciplinary academic background includes a bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, a master’s in Aeronautics & Astronautics from MIT, and a PhD in Bioastronautics from the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.  Her research spanned both human and mammalian adaptation to microgravity, partial gravity, and centrifugation; as well as organizational innovation and prize theory. She is also an alumna of the International Space University.


Advisor: Grant Anderson

Grant Anderson, P.E., President and CEO, Co-Founder, Paragon


Mr. Anderson co-founded Paragon in 1993.  From the time of inception of the company until early this year, he has been the VP of Engineering and Chief Engineer of the company and was responsible for the design and implementation of not only many of Paragon’s technical achievements, but also its processes of engineering rigor in a stepped approach of requirements, design, build, test and delivery.  This process has been cited by many customers as unique, disciplined and highly productive.  Coming from a background of not only technical but financial and managerial training, he has held diverse positions at Paragon including Treasurer/Secretary, CFO, Sr. VP of Operations, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Manufacturing. 


Recognized as a leader in the life support in extreme environments field, Mr. Anderson has lead the systems and conceptual design of multiple spacecraft under contract to Lockheed Martin, NASA, Inspiration Mars Foundation and others.  He holds multiple patents in a diverse range of disciplines including testing systems, isolation systems, radiator systems and overall systems design.  He has lead development and qualification of experimental flight hardware for five shuttle flights, two Mir missions, a Russian Progress, and the first commercial payload on ISS. Prior to starting Paragon, Mr. Anderson was the Chief Design Engineer for the International Space Station Solar Array Program--the largest solar arrays ever built--while employed at Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, CA.


Mr. Anderson holds two degrees from Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering (B.S.) and Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering (M.S.) and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of California.  His diverse education/training included non-technical roles such as Controller for a Palo Alto, CA real estate firm during college where he implemented some of the first computers into the company’s financial systems to track and monitor property financial performance.  Working at an aviation consultancy, he participated in the start-up of two airlines through route analysis, equipment analysis and strategy advice.  One went on to be America West, now part of US Airways.  Mr. Anderson is also a graduate of the International Space University 1991 summer session with emphasis on space business and management.


Mr. Anderson’s passion for excellence drives him to support the next generation of engineers and leaders through participation in educational work outside of Paragon.  A former Treasurer and member of the board of Trustees of the Tucson Waldorf School, he led the financial growth of that entity from a small struggling school to a robust, diverse and thriving school today.  Mr. Anderson also oversees a non-profit tuition scholarship organization which provides roughly $250,000 of scholarships to deserving children throughout southern Arizona.  He is also on the Industry Advisory Board for the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona.  


In his spare time, Mr. Anderson is an avid bicyclist and most recently completed a solo, unsupported, 6 day, 600 mile ride across South Dakota and North Western Iowa.


Mr. Anderson lives in Tucson with his wife and three children. 


Advisor: Henk Mooiweer

Henk Mooiweer, Ph.D, Innovation Consultant, Innovenate LLC


Innovation expert who successfully led many disruptive and high impact opportunities to Proof of Concept. In his 25-year career at Shell effectively managed the development of multiple complex business opportunities and many, often unconventional, external partnerships.  


As innovation consultant at Innovenate LLC, I help my clients to strongly enhance the value they obtain from their Innovation efforts. I offer pragmatic support to radically improve the way innovation resolves challenges and delivers new opportunities.


Henk thrives in a hectic environment where passionate people, highly unusual ideas, innovation challenges and uncertainty benefit from creative and pragmatic guidance.  


In his part-time role as Adjunct Professor at Rice University he studies and teaches approaches to make individuals better inventors and innovators. 


Judge & Mentor: Jeff Greason

Jeff Greason, CEO and Co-Founder, Agile Aero, Inc.


Jeff Greason is the CEO and Co-Founder of Agile Aero, Inc., a company targeting rapid prototyping capabilities for aerospace vehicles. He is one of the founders of XCOR Aerospace and was its CEO from 1999 through February 2015, after which he served as Chief Technologist until November 2015. He is a member of the board of directors of XCOR. Greason has been active in the development of the regulatory environment for the commercial space flight industry. He has worked with the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) since 1998, and has served on the advisory group to AST, COMSTAC as a member of the working group on reusable launch vehicles (RLV) since 2000, and as an invited full member of COMSTAC since 2005. He was one of the leaders of the development of the Commercial Space Launch Amendment Act of 2004. He co-founded the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (formerly Personal Spaceflight Federation). Previously, he was the team lead at Rotary Rocket for engine development, and earlier worked at Intel.


Greason was named a member of the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee on May 7, 2009. Since then he has given a number of speeches on space policy and space settlement. In July 2003, Greason testified before the joint House/Senate subcommittee hearings on Commercial Human Spaceflight that addressed the transition from aircraft regulation to launch vehicle regulation for suborbital vehicles. Time magazine named Greason an Inventor of the Year in 2002 for his team’s work on the EZ-Rocket. Greason holds 22 U.S. patents.


Judge: Jeff Manber

Jeff Manber, CEO, NanoRacks LLC


Jeffrey has served as the CEO of NanoRacks from 2009 onwards, and more recently, has taken on the role of chairman of the XO Markets board. Jeffrey, along with co-founder Mike Johnson, has steered the growth of NanoRacks from a garage space in Webster, Texas to a where NanoRacks is today – a pioneer and now leader in the commercial market for low-Earth orbit utilization. For the future, Jeffrey is increasingly focused on bringing NanoRacks hardware and commercial services to more and more in-space platforms.


As the only American to ever work officially for the Russian space program, his prior experience includes serving as Managing Director of Energia USA, the American arm of RSC Energia. In 1991, he carried over the first commercial contract between NASA and the Soviet Union to use Soyuz as an escape vehicle for Space Station Freedom. Later, Jeffrey represented the Russian space organizations when the basic contracts to realize the International Space Station were negotiated. As CEO of MirCorp, which leased the Russian space station Mir, he oversaw the first ever (and still only) commercially funded manned mission, of over 70 days, to the Mir space station. His experience developing the business base for Mir, as well as now on the International Space Station, paves the way for XO Markets to build the customer base beyond ISS.


He also co-developed the first fund dedicated to commercial space on Wall Street (Shearson Lehman) and has served as an adviser to numerous companies and governments. The author of three books, his second (Selling Peace) chronicles his time working with the Russian space program. In 2012, Jeffrey was awarded the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal.



Judge: Joe Curran

Joe Curran,  Corrosion Engineer, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station


Joe started his career in California assisting his uncles in the concrete and masonry contracting fields. Shortly after, he went to work for the California Department of Transportation as a highway inspector where he became interested in corrosion on bridge decks. He furthered his endeavors by graduating with honors from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida with a bachelor’s degree in ocean engineering with a specialty in corrosion and the corrosion of steel in concrete. He has been a National Association of Corrosion Engineers member since 1995 holding a number of certifications.


In 1995, he went to work at Kennedy Space Center where he is considered an expert in solving problems with corrosion of steel in concrete, cathodic protection, and corrosion related problems in regard to coatings. At Kennedy Space Center, he is a noted inventor obtaining the only patent for protection of steel in concrete at a NASA center. In addition, he has co-authored over 7 papers, presented at many conferences both nationally and internationally, and has received many awards. Joe is considered to be in the top tier of corrosion engineers and was subsequently appointed to the Department of Defense Corrosion Policy and Oversight Group to represent NASA and to contribute to our nation’s security interest.


 He is regularly called on to consult for difficult to troubleshoot corrosion and cathodic protection problems. He has designed both sacrificial and impressed current cathodic protection systems for condominiums, and has had oversight of Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building, and other facilities for cathodic protection.


Currently he is working as a corrosion engineer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.


For the community, he has been involved in Camp Fire Kids, Little League coaching, tutoring, and helping children receive their scuba certifications.  


Judge: John Copple

John Copple, CEO, Sanborn Map Company, Inc.


Mr. Copple is the Chief Executive Officer Of the Sanborn Map Company, Inc. He has been in this position for 13 years. Sanborn is the oldest geospatial companies in the United States and has developed and introduced to the market many new technologies. Sanborn is also one of the largest geospatial companies and has operating locations in the United States and international offices with over 150 employees.  Mr. Copple is actively involved in all aspects of company performance. Mr. Copple is a strong believer in the value of remote sensing technologies and geographic information systems. Mr. Copple has traveled extensively developing business both domestically and internationally. 


Prior to joining Sanborn, Mr. Copple was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Space Imaging, Inc.  

During his seven year tenure at Space Imaging, Mr. Copple built the company into the best known and largest of the satellite imagery companies, and developed a wealth of experience in the remote sensing industry. He guided Space Imaging to a world wide leadership position with significant Commercial, International and Government sales. Space Imaging was sold to GeoEye corporation which has now been sold to Digital Globe.


Prior to joining Space Imaging, Mr. Copple had a distinguished career in a variety of roles at E-Systems, a $3 billion dollar public technology systems company where he became a Corporate Vice President. E-Systems developed technology for the Defense and Intelligence community. Raytheon acquired E-Systems in 1995. Mr. Copple has also worked for an aerospace company –Tracor  (now part of BAE) prior to joining E-Systems.


Mr. Copple has a Masters Degree from the University of Texas in Austin. He has served on a number of corporate and industry boards including the National Geo-spatial Intelligence Agency Advisory Committee, the State of Colorado Governor’s Technology Committee, and the National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive Committee. He regularly serves as a special consultant to various agencies of the US government regarding remote sensing.


Supporter: Karin Nilsdotter

Karin Nilsdotter,  CEO and Partner, Spaceport Sweden


Karin Nilsdotter is the CEO, and partner, of Spaceport Sweden, which is a pioneering initiative to establish commercial human spaceflight as a new industry for tourism, research and education in Sweden. The vision of Spaceport Sweden is to create a world leading spaceport and enable access to space for mankind, but also to provide a platform for cross-industry innovation and empowerment through access to space in particular among young talent and women in across different disciplines.


Capitalizing on the opportunities on Earth, Karin has led the development of a space training and experience program through working with academia and partnerships across science, technology and environment for which the company has been recognized and received several innovation awards for the tangible results. The portfolio of Spaceport Sweden contains as a result Northern Lights Flights Northern Light Academy, ZeroG ­ weightless flights, Centrifuge and G-force training for example and many more inspiring projects and initiatives together with students.


Being a thought leader and advocate for the development of commercial human spaceflight industry and its enabling impact for mankind on Earth, Karin has become a recognized voice for the industry and an agent driving change and innovative projects which she shares in her talks. 


Currently, Karin is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation, on the board for Arctic Business Incubator and a council member for Swedish Lapland Chamber of Commerce. Previously Karin has an extensive experience from the tourism industry where she has held senior international management roles and board appointments including being Chairman of Kiruna Lapland Tourism and Swedish Lapland Tourism. 


Commended for her pioneering management research, Karin is a distinguished graduate of Henley Business School in the UK where she earned her Executive MBA and was invited to present her leading research on positive psychology and employee engagement applied to a knowledge organization. 


Karin is also the initiator of Creative Space, an international pilot project and do-tank for the development of new products, services and experiences using space as the platform, enabling empowerment and contributing to regional growth. Karin is further the licensee and curator of TEDxKiruna which as been arranged three years in a row focusing on creating a forum for minds to meet and be inspired to new initiatives and ideas by speakers from a local to an international level. 


Mentor & Advisor: Karina Drees

Karina Drees, CEO and General Manager, Mojave Air & Space Port (MASP)


Karina Drees was named CEO and General Manager of Mojave Air & Space Port (MASP) in January 2016. She had previously served as Deputy General Manager since 2012. As CEO, Drees is responsible for maintaining more than 3,000 acres of property and managing 150 tenant contracts. She oversees all air and space operations at the airport and manages procedures, business operations and regional partnership development. Drees leads the implantation of strategic initiatives for the benefit of the companies operating in Mojave as well as the region. Prior to MASP, Drees held senior positions in strategy, business development and operations for growing technology companies. She was most recently a member of the strategy and positioning team at SRA International where she identified opportunities for multiple divisions within the company.


Before joining SRA, Drees held leadership positions at two investor-backed high tech startup companies in the Washington DC area. Drees has a BS from Arizona State University and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. She also completed International Space University’s (ISU) Summer Session Program in Beijing, China. She serves as a Director with the Antelope Valley Board of Trade, a board member with the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, a judge for the MIT Global Challenge and a previous SBIR proposal reviewer and panelist for the National Science Foundation.


Judge: Kathleen Kramer

Kathleen Kramer, Ph.D., Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of San Diego


Dr. Kathleen A. Kramer is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of San Diego. She received her MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and her BS in Electrical Engineering (with a second major in Physics) magna cum laude from Loyola Marymount University. She has worked as a Member of Technical Staff doing research at several companies including ViaSat, Hewlett Packard, and Bell Communications Research.


Author or co-author of over 100 publications, her research interests are in the areas of multi-sensor data fusion, intelligent systems, neural and fuzzy systems. She has recent published journal articles in IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, theInternational Journal of Intelligent Systems, and the Journal of Robotics. The work she authored or co-authored in 2014 was presented at the 10th International Conference on Communications (Bucharest, Romania), the 2014 International Symposium on Communications, Control, and Signal Processing (Athens, Greece), the 2014 International Symposium on Innovations in Intelligent Systems and Applications (Alberobello, Italy) and the 23rd International Conference on Systems Engineering (Las Vegas, NV).


Her teaching interests include signal processing, communications, and capstone design. Her recent course offerings include the electrical engineering senior design sequence, signals and systems, wireless communications, and communication principles.


She currently serves as a member of the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. A senior member of IEEE, she is a Past Chair of the IEEE San Diego section. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Aerospace Electronic Systems Society and chairs the San Diego IEEE Aerospace Electronic Systems Society San Diego Chapter. She has been recognized by both IEEE and SWE for a variety of leadership activities and was nominated in 2014 for an ATHENA Pinnacle award. She supports San Diego outreach activities such as Expand Your Horizons, FIRST LEGO League and the FIRST Technical Challenge. She is currently chief advisor to the USD chapter of Tau Beta Pi (California Alpha Epsilon) and is a member of other honor societies including IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu, Sigma Pi Sigma, and Alpha Sigma Nu.


Judge: Kevin Crosby

Kevin Crosby, Director, Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium


Kevin Crosby is Director of the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, part of a national network of state-based programs that provide fellowships and scholarships to students and faculty pursuing NASA-related research, teacher training opportunities, and STEM outreach and informal education. Crosby runs the Carthage College Space Sciences Program where he and his students collaborate with industry and NASA partners to design, build, and fly undergraduate-led space technology projects including microgravity experiments, sounding rocket payloads, and CubeSats. He has participated in more than a dozen parabolic flight campaigns for space technology development, and has worked on zero-gravity propellant gauging, computational fluid dynamic models of tank slosh and propellant settling, and surface tension driven flow in low gravity environments. In 2014, Crosby was appointed Dean of the Division of Natural and Social Sciences at Carthage College.


Judge: Kevin Heath

Kevin Heath, President and CEO, Waypoint 2 Space


With more than 17 years of sales and business management experience in Fortune 500 companies, Heath’s passion for space exploration and a life-long commitment to the pursuit of making Commercial Spaceflight a reality is more than contagious - it drives our culture at Waypoint 2 Space.


An aerospace professional with experience in Commercial Human Spaceflight solutions, including launch vehicles and satellites, Heath’s involvement with industry includes: Spaceship One Sub-Orbital Space Program, SpaceDev Dream Chaser Orbital Space Plane, Hybrid Sounding Rocket, Maneuver and Orbital Transfer Vehicle (MoTV), and Nano-Satellite Solar Propulsion programs.


His commitment has been far reaching, with collaborations on satellite programs and studies for DARPA, Missile Defense Agency (MDA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), NASA, Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), Navel Research Lab (NRL) and the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) office.


Mr. Heath received his Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Masters in Business Administration in Technology Management degrees from the University of Phoenix.


Judge: Matthew Hull

Matthew Hull, Business Development Manager, Virginia Tech (ICTAS)


Dr. Matthew Hull manages the nanotechnology research portfolio within Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS). He received his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2011 and an M.S. in Biology from Virginia Tech in 2002. He received his B.S. In Environmental Science from Ferrum College in 2000. Hull is also President and Owner of NanoSafe, Inc., a provider of nanotechnology human and environmental health and safety (EHS) services he founded in 2007.


Judge: Michael Paul

Michael Paul, Space Exploration Engineer, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts


Michael Paul is a space exploration engineer with experience on several deep space robotic missions. Paul, a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Fellow, is currently working at Penn State, leading students and researchers in efforts to develop advanced systems that could enable more exploration, more often, and at lower cost. Paul is proud to have sent the last command before liftoff to the MESSENGER spacecraft on launch day in 2004 and helped recover its first close-up images of Mercury in 2008. He continues to work on new mission concepts, with a focus on robotic exploration of Earth’s Moon, the large moons of Saturn and Jupiter and other exotic places in our solar system.


Paul earned a BA in Liberal Arts from Stonehill College, a BS in Aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and an MS in Applied Physics from Johns Hopkins University. He loves to share his passion for space exploration with broad audiences and has been an invited speaker at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, the Hayden Planetarium in Chicago, SXSW Eco, TEDxPSU, and, most recently, the Atlantic Magazine’s Bold Bets: Commercializing the Cosmos conference. Paul shares the Moon and stars with his wife and two children on clear nights, and spends time wondering just how much life might be out there in the cosmos.


Judge: Mike Winn

Mike Winn, CEO and Co-Founder, DroneDeploy


Mike is the CEO, and co Founder of DroneDeploy, a drone data platform. DroneDeploy empowers one of the worlds largest community of drone users, collecting data for their businesses, which include every industry from agriculture through constructions through insurance, construction through crime scene investigation. Their users have created over 5 million acres of drone maps and 3D models, likely the largest data set of cm-level maps of the world. Prior to DroneDeploy, Mike worked at Google, in sales and technical positions, occupying his time outside of work flying remote control helicopters and taking aerial photography.


Judge: Nicole Hallada

Nicole Hallada, Vice President Marketing & Communications, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)


Nicole Hallada is Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the North American-based international trade and business-development group for off-road equipment manufacturing. 


She leads the Association’s integrated development and delivery of content to members, industry stakeholders and the public across a variety of marketing, public relations and communications channels.


Responsibilities include strategic planning, and oversight of the Future’s Council that monitors technologies and trends to develop strategies that reflect the impact of exponential change.  Additionally she develops and implements global and regional initiatives and campaigns, and brand communications tools to increase the value and relevancy of services to members.


Hallada also oversees marketing and communications strategy and programs for AEM’s five industry-leading trade shows, including its flagship CONEXPO-CON/AGG international construction industries exhibition, the largest event of this type in the Western Hemisphere.

She has also served as Show Manager for AEM’s ICUEE-The Demo Expo, the leading exhibition for utility construction.


Hallada joined AEM in 1997, and has held a series of marketing management posts with increasing responsibility, most recently Chief Marketing Director, and she is a member of the association’s senior management team. She has earned numerous awards for marketing campaigns, trade show growth and construction workforce-development initiatives.


Hallada is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Bachelor of Science degree.


She is a member of American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and serves on the research committee of CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research) and SpaceCom Advisory Board. 


Advisor: Pat Hynes

Dr. Pat Hynes, Director, New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC)


Dr. Pat Hynes is the director of the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC) and NASA EPSCoR located at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She works on space related research and education across the State of New Mexico. Space Grant, started in 1989, is funded by Congress and administered by NASA. The role of the Space Grant program nationally is to bring the benefits of space research and education to the communities of the United States. NMSGC programs are statewide; include all 3 research universities in New Mexico, 2 community colleges, museums, federal and state partners. Dr. Hynes is responsible for the strategic planning, research and education support, development, and outreach efforts for the consortium, and programs related to space including efforts to recruit industry partners as part of her work on the International Symposium on Personal Spaceflight.


 Dr. Hynes is the Curator of the International Symposium for Personal Spaceflight ( It is now in its 12th year and is a leading international commercial space conference. She is also the State Director for the FAA Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation.


She was the Director of the Center for Aerospace Science, Technology and Education (CASTE) which was established early in the state’s efforts to create a focal point for research and education related to inland spaceport development.

Pat Hynes is a graduate of New Mexico State University with a Ph.D in Business Administration. She is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


Judge: Ravi Pathak

Ravi Ramesh Pathak, Cancer Biologist, Baylor College of Medicine


Dr. Ravi Ramesh Pathak is a cancer biologist by training with a Ph.D. in Biotechnology and an M.B.A. in human resources, and marketing management. He has worked extensively on cancer biology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, NY, University of South Florida, FL, and is presently working as a Postdoctoral Associate with Dr. Andrew Sikora at the Baylor College of Medicine.


Dr. Pathak has successfully combined elements of bioinformatics and systems biology with classical transcriptional biology, and complex mouse models to successfully identify novel mechanisms in prostate and lung cancers.  He has published his scientific research in leading peer-reviewed journals and currently serves as Managing Editor on the editorial board of Journal of Postdoctoral Research. As an entrepreneur and consultant, he actively works with a number of startup ventures  (20/20 Display, Scientist Solutions, FundaVinci, Ovodex).


Advisor: Richard Dayoub

Richard Dayoub, President, Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce


Richard E. Dayoub is the President and CEO of the El Paso Chamber.  He began his career in the chamber world in 2003 as the Chief Operating Officer.  In 2004, he assumed the position of president and was selected to be the Chamber’s President and CEO in 2007.  Since 2004, Richard has served on the Collaborative for Academic Excellence, a nationally recognized partnership headquartered at the University of Texas at El Paso and chaired by its president, Dr. Diana Natalicio.  He has also served as board chair for the Child Crisis Center, board member of Junior Achievement and Big Brothers Big Sisters.  In 2010, Richard was honored by the El Paso Child Guidance Center as the guest of honor for a fundraiser roast for the community based charitable organization, and was honored as the Fort Bliss Citizen of the Year in 2009, for his work in support of Fort Bliss soldiers and their families.  Mr. Dayoub was inducted into the Fort Bliss Hall of Fame in May of 2013.  


Dayoub is a graduate of the Institute for Organizational Management completing his coursework at the University of Arizona in 2009.  He served as the Chairman of the Texas Metro Chambers of Commerce, serving in that capacity for two years, in 2010 and 2011.  In 2007 and 2008, Richard participated as a Ford Foundation Fellow, a project focused on regionalism and sustainable development in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce Executives.  Richard serves on the ACCE Board of Directors, recently nominated as Vice Chair, and is an active member of the Metro Cities Council.   Richard is an ACCE Fellow for Education Attainment, and received his Certified Chamber Executive Designation in April of 2014.     


In his prior career, Dayoub was the president and CEO of a large regional travel company for nearly 30 years.  In that capacity, he oversaw the growth and expansion of the company that transformed from a small local operation with 10 employees, to a company with 10 offices in four states and more than 100 employees.  In that capacity, his company was recognized as the highest producing retailer in the southwest by every major airline, tour and cruise company in the country.  He also served on American Airline’s travel advisory committee for ten years. 


Richard attended the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in speech and theatre studies and recently returned to complete his work in Interdisciplinary Studies.  Richard is an Air Force veteran, serving two tours in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970. He is married to Veronica Villaverde Dayoub, and has four children, Danielle, Damon, Samuel and Emily and one granddaughter, Ariah.    


Judge: Ritwik Ghosh

Ritwik Ghosh, Ph.D., Chief Technologist, Lynntech, Inc. 


Ritwik Ghosh is the Chief Technologist of Experimental Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Lynntech, Inc.  He was previously a Scientist for Life Sciences and Technologies for Lynntech, Inc.  He was also a research fellow at Vanderbuilt University School of Medicine.


Dr. Ghosh holds a MS in Pharmacology from University of Toledo, a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from Vanderbuilt University, and a Post Doctoral in Cancer Biology, Molecular Biology,  and Mechanisms of Drug Action and Resistance from Vanderbuilt University. His primary research interest involves receptor tyrosine kinase driven oncogenic signaling networks. He also has several years  of experience in conducting mechanistic studies on the role of low frequency genetic mutations and cellular signaling viz. the PI3K and the MAPK pathways in the development and progression of multiple cancer types.


Judge: Rob O'Reilly

Rob O’Reilly, Senior Sensor Technologist, Analog Devices, Inc.


Rob began his MEMS sensor career with Analog Devices in 1991, first as a consultant, followed by joining the company in a full time capacity in 1995. Rob was part of the ADI team that developed the first production Shaker test systems that enabled ADI to take on automotive sensing challenges. While at ADI he has led many groups within the MEMS division including MEMS Applications, Advanced Test, Production Test, Trim and Probe, and Characterization. Rob is currently exploring Smart Ag as a sensor to cloud strategy which has led to the now very public IoTomato project. He holds several patents in MEMS test technologies for accelerometer, gyro and combo test platforms. In 2012, Rob was inducted into the MEMS Industry Group’s Hall of Fame and continues to serve on their Technical Advisory, Test Standards and the Accelerated Innovations Subcommittees. Rob’s interest include music (lead guitarist for Cosmic Igloo), Hockey (Coach of Wayland Middle School), Golf (never enough time), and time travel.



Judge: Rudy Garza

Rudy Garza, Founding Partner, G51 Amplify


Mr. Garza is leveraging his history, expertise and resources to build a global network of Universities, Students, Startups, Industry and Family Offices to speed up the pace of Innovation and Job creation with his work at G51 Amplify. The G51 Venture Scholars Program is currently a national initiative in place at 13 top graduate school programs and growing. From Austin to Raleigh-Durham to Boston and Chicago and west to Palo Alto students are learning and collaborating about promising Startups and helping the Startups find referrals, advice and funding. There are over 200 Venture Scholar alumni working in amazing careers at leading companies across the country and internationally. The intellectual horsepower of the cohorts and academic support in the program coupled with the exposure to raw American startup ingenuity is driving continuous organic growth to national and global locations.


His investment and startup experience comes from being the founder and prior managing director of G51 Capital Management, LLC  where he focused on the development of all portfolio companies, syndication partnerships and deal flow. Through investing, mentoring as well as serving on portfolio boards, he assisted portfolio companies in defining and then guiding the implementation of well grounded business and marketing strategies. He applied his knowledge of successful business models; go to market strategies with business growth initiatives, capital formation planning and talent sourcing.


Active in the venture business since 1996, he has been an active leader in the venture community, including longstanding participation in National Venture Capital Association and the Texas Venture Capital Association. His firm and the companies in which he has invested have syndicated over $300 million dollars of investment from leading venture firms such as Bain Capital, Polaris Ventures, Morgan Stanley, Institutional Venture Partners, Foundry Group, Floodgate, Silverton Ventures among others; as well as from corporate venture investors like Intel and HP. He has been involved in multiple acquisitions of his portfolio companies by Fortune 500 companies including Cisco, ADP, Prudential, SAP and others.


He is a past chairman of the board and past president of the University of Texas Exes 100,000 member alumni association and has served as the chairman of the Alumni Endowment Investment Committee. He is a lifetime honorary trustee of the Dell Children’s Medical Center. He received his MBA from The University of Texas and his BBA from St. Edwards University both in Austin.



Judge, Mentor, and Advisor: Sandy Seth

Sandy Seth, Owner, Seth Law


Sandeep (Sandy) Seth brings to your patent proceedings his unique style and uncanny insight developed over 20 years of litigating patents, both in-house and in private practice, where he has a long track record of obtaining client goals in patent cases. Having spent the last six years as of counsel with Susman Godfrey on their patent cases, Sandy teams up with others on their patent cases, weaving his experience into the optimal strategy. 


Sandy is a member in good standing of the California and Texas bars. He is registered to practice before the USTPO, various Federal Courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He holds a Juris Doctorate in Law and a Bachelors of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. Before law school, Sandy worked as an Aerospace Engineer for Martin Marietta on the Hubble Space Telescope and Inertial Upper Stage Transorbital vehicle. 



Advisor: Stanley Anyetei

Stanley Anyetei, Founder, RoundCircle Strategist


Stanley Anyetei is the founder of RoundCircle Strategist, an impact investment advisory firm that develops and implements innovative solutions for both investors and entrepreneurs dedicated to responsible business. The companies focus areas include renewable energy, education, health, technology, access to finance and value chain development.


Prior to starting RoundCircle in 2013, Stanley spent more than 8 years at Investec Bank, Capital Market, advising both listed and private entities on a variety of strategic and financing initiatives with particular emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, divestitures as well as the raising of equity, hybrid-equity and debt capital from both the public and private markets.


Stanley is also a small business coach and lecturer, helping entrepreneurs transition from one-person-entrepreneur mindset to fully scalable business solutions. Stanley holds an MBA from TIAS Business School, a Corporate Social Responsibility Program from Georgetown University, USA, a Masters in Finance Management and is a visiting lecturer at TIAS Business School and Maastricht School of Entrepreneurship Economics from the University of Cape Town. 


Judge: Stephan Reckie

Stephan Reckie, Co-Founder, Edge of Space & CEO, Angelus Funding 


Reckie is the Co-founder and partner in Edge of Space.  He is also CEO of Angelus Funding, a trust-based global network of angel investors, who actively evaluate a wide range of innovative investment opportunities.  Stephan serves on the board of directors of several companies and has personally made 28 investments since 2012.  Prior to starting Angelus Funding, Stephan served in several international executive roles including: COO of DigiLink Software, a China-based embedded video solutions developer, and the Director of North American Sales at India-based Ittiam Systems.  As the founding Director of EMEA Operations for Telogy Networks, his company was acquired for $457 million by Texas Instruments.


Stephan holds Bachelor’s and Masters of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts.  A second generation Russian and a true native New Yorker, he is fluent in 5 languages. Stephan is a “professional" volunteer for several impactful organizations and an active community leader.


Judge: Steve Howard

Steve L. Howard, County Administrator & Project Leader, Spaceport Camden


Steve L. Howard has served as the County Administrator since 2007. Prior to that, he worked in various management positions for Polk, Seminole, and Desoto Counties in Florida, and the City of Punta Gorda.


Steve is a graduate of Bellevue University, where he earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California Coast University. In addition, he is a graduate of the ICMA Senior Executive Institute Leadership Program at the University of Virginia, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and the Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Senior Executives in State and Local Government program. He is also a graduate of The Florida Center for Public Management’s nationally recognized Certified Public Manager program at The Florida State University.


He is an ICMA Credentialed Manager, Certified Public Manager, Certified Public Purchasing Officer and Certified Professional Public Buyer. Steve holds various Board of Directors appointments including: The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Gateway Behavioral Health, and is Chair of the Camden County FEMA Board.


On September 30, 2015, as part of the 101st ICMA Annual Conference in Seattle, Steve was formally recognized with a 25-year service award from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Steve was recognized for his significant contributions to local government organizations, and his track record of implementing programs that promote quality and efficiency and responsible and responsive government.


On February 8, 2016 Steve received the General James Oglethorpe Space Award for his significant contributions to the space program within Georgia.


Key Contributions & Results for Camden County:


*Developed and Implemented County’s first five-year Strategic Plan. *Oversaw development of 2016 ~ 2021 ~ 2031 Strategic Plan. * Led collaboration efforts with three municipalities for multiple service delivery strategies that resulted in cost savings for cities and county. * Awarded fourteen state and national awards for implementing innovative government programs. *Obtained over $100 million in state and federal grants. *Received 2015 Best of Category Achievement Award from the National Association of counties for collaboration project with cities and was recognized with the 2014 Public-Private Partnership Project of the year award by the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia. *Launched better ways of doing government business program achieved over $9 million in cost savings. *Redesigned Health Care plan resulted in over $2 million in savings and cost avoidance. *Increased cash fund balance / eliminated general fund debt /reduced millage rate. *Established community communication and outreach programs. *Partnered with Chamber of Commerce, Cities and other groups to promote greater unity of economic development efforts for the community.


Judge: Tom Green

Tom Green, Editor-in-Chief, Robotics Business Review 


Tom Green is the Editor in chief of the Robotics Business Review, a global robotics news and information resource headquartered in metro Boston (USA).


Formerly, Green worked as print/online writer and video producer for the MITRE Corporation, an R&D facility specializing in computer engineering, avionics, robotics, RADAR, marine engineering, satellite communications, systems engineering and deep-space information systems for the U.S. federal government, NATO, World Radio-communication Conferences and civilian projects worldwide (2000-2009). In 2010, Green published an Amazon best-selling history of the computer revolution: “Bright Boys: The Making of Information Technology 1938-1958″. He was also online editor/writer for Millipore/Merck Corporation; website developer and editor for JAZD Business Publications; and TV program developer for Gostel radio.


He is also an Emmy-nominated, award-winning writer, producer and playwright who utilizes online editorial and video content to report on and produce programs on science, technology and engineering. Green wrote and produced the forum-based TV pilot “Lifelines” for a local Boston network. His stage plays have been produced at Boston’s Next Move Theater and then reproduced as radio plays for National Public Radio.

Judge & Mentor: Vitaliy Goncharuk

Vitaliy Goncharuk, CEO and Founder, Augmented Pixels


Vitaliy is the CEO and Founder of Augmented Pixels. Augmented Pixels creates a world where drones and robots can see and navigate as humans do. SLAM, Computer Vision, Augmented Reality.


Vitaliy Goncharuk has 5 years of experience in software engineering (1999 – 2004) and 10+ years as an IT entrepreneur. His interests are computer vision and augmented reality for drones and robotics (Augmented Pixels, Inc) and Al and Machine Learning (Semantic Sales, Inc).


His hobbies include system engineering, mafia game, and jiu jitsu.

Judge: Warren Bates

Warren Bates, Director of Portfolio Management, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)


Warren Bates currently serves as the Director of Portfolio Management at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the manager of the International Space Station U.S. National Lab. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. Warren directs and manages the activities associated with portfolio development, proposal review, scientific and economic analyses, and overall management of the CASIS portfolio for research opportunities as well as CASIS campaigns such as Good Health and Good Earth. Since its inception in July 2011, CASIS has provided more than $20M in seed funding to its portfolio.


Prior to joining CASIS, Warren worked in the private equity and financial services industries. He most recently worked with Sentinel Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in New York City with $2 billion of capital under management. At Sentinel, he helped to evaluate, execute and manage investments in the United States and Canada, in a wide range of industries including aerospace and defense, business services, consumer products and services, distribution, food and restaurants, franchising, healthcare, and manufacturing.


Preceding Sentinel, Warren worked in the Global Power and Utilities Group at Morgan Stanley as an investment banker, where he helped advise domestic and foreign corporations on a variety of strategic and financing opportunities.


Warren received his B.S. degree from M.I.T. in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Finance.


Judge: William Tippin

William Tippin, Ph.D, Transformational Speaker, NASA & Graduate Instructor, Webster University


Dr. William Tippin's 30+ years of experience includes delivering highly effective government and commercial infrastructure programs for world renowned architectural/ engineering (A/E) firms.


His 360-degree expertise leverages broad program management and business development success in transportation, facilities, and government agencies projects. As a result, Dr. Tippin skillfully leads strategic planning, A/E, and construction management infrastructure programs that also create strategic alliances that prove to be successful well after contract completion. This includes building high-performance cross-functional teams by hiring, developing, and motivating skilled professionals to achieve strategic and tactical objectives.


Dr. Tippin has been a frequent speaker on transformational management at the annual NASA-sponsored Project Management Challenge conferences. He has also instructed graduate students in public administration, systems management, organizational management and behavior, and applied research at Webster University in Washington, DC. He currently is initiating a Space Operations Management Masters of Science Program for Webster University.