Industrial Advisory Council

Aerospace Engineering Industrial Advisory Council – 2018

Council Member Biographies

Tia Benson Tolle
Tia Benson Tolle

Tia Benson Tolle is director of advanced materials in Boeing Commercial Airplane’s Innovation Center & Technology. In this position she has responsibility for a targeted technology portfolio spanning metals, composites, finishes, and assemblies for product development. Prior to joining The Boeing Company, she held the position of technology director of the Nonmetallic Materials Division at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. Her personal research and development focus has been on advanced polymeric composite materials, and has spanned basic research through transition to aerospace weapons systems, working with academia, industry, government and international collaborations. Prior to this, she has held several technical leadership positions within Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. Before joining the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, she worked as a composites structures engineer at the Composites Advanced Development Program Office, Flight Dynamics Laboratory, Wright Laboratory, and prior to that as an instructor in the Space Shuttle Flight Training Division, Johnson Space Center, NASA. Benson Tolle currently serves on the MRS Board of Directors, has been active on several committees, and was a co-chair for the MRS 2011 symposium on Multi-scale Mechanics of Hierarchical Materials. She is also a fellow in the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE). She served as SAMPE Executive Cabinet Officer 1998-2005 and as the International President 2005-2006. As an international officer, she helped lead the development of a long term strategic vision; the initiative for globalization through international relations and coordination; assessment and refinement of the format and focus of the various conferences, publications and forums; and management of finance, marketing, and staff personnel. She has been active at the Local Midwest Chapter serving as chair, 1995, 1996, director, 1997 – 2007, and education chair 2007-2008 during which time she spearheaded a collaborative ASM-SAMPE Teacher Camp for the local region. She has organized numerous technical sessions and panels in various forums; was co-general chair for SAMPE Asia 2012; co-general chair, SAMPE International Technical Conference, 2007; and technical chair for the SAMPE International Technical Conference 2003.

She holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and an M.S. and Ph.D. in materials engineering from the University of Dayton.

Mary Cardenas, Alumna

Mary Cardenas is the LaFetra Chair in Environmental Engineering at Harvey Mudd College (HMC), a highly-selective private college of engineering and science in Claremont, California. She was the first female engineering professor at HMC. Her industrial experience includes propulsion engineering at Rocketdyne, where she worked on the Space Shuttle Main Engine, Atlas, and the National Aerospace Plane (X-30). She was a research scientist in environmental engineering at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Sandia National Laboratories. She revised, updated, and enlarged the book, “Modern Engineering for Design of Liquid-Propellant Rocket Engines” (Huzel and Huang). As an educator, she focuses on hands-on, project-based undergraduate engineering education, and was co-designer of the sophomore-level model-rocket-based experimental engineering course, and the first-year Studio Methods Engineering Design course. She has supervised undergraduate research projects on marine hydrokinetic turbine modeling; groundwater modeling for nuclear repositories; contaminant fate and transport in the Great Lakes; and model rocketry data acquisition. She is currently the Program Chair of the Environmental Engineering Division (EED) of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and has served at HMC as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and as the Engineering Clinic Director.

She received her B.Sc. in Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering from Iowa State University (1987), and her M.Sc. (1993) and Ph.D. (1994) in Mechanical and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Kevin A. Gordon, Alumnus
Kevin Gordon is the Director of Advanced Technology for United Technologies Corporation Aerospace Systems division in Charlotte, NC. In this role, he’s responsible for leading the development of new technologies and innovations for the division, encompassing nine Strategic Business Units with 40,000 employees at 180 locations in 26 countries. He was named to this position in 2012 after the acquisition of Goodrich and subsequent merger with UTC’s Hamilton Sundstrand business unit. In his 18 years with Goodrich/UTC, he has held positions of increasing responsibility and leadership in engineering, operations, quality, compliance and continuous improvement. Prior to Goodrich he worked as a Project Engineer in the Aerodynamics groups for McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, MO and The Boeing Company in Renton, WA and Wichita, KS. Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State University and a Master of Engineering Management from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

David E. Halstead, Alumnus
Dave Halstead is the manager of Turbomachinery Aerodynamics at GE Aviation. In this role, he is responsibility aerodynamics design and technology development for all fans, compressors, and turbines for Aviation’s commercial and military product lines. Prior to his current position, Dave was manager of GE Honda Engine Systems, responsible for engine development for the GE Honda Aero Engines partnership. In prior roles, Dave managed the Technology Programs and Preliminary Design organizations in the Advanced Engineering Programs Department. In his initial role at GE, Dave conducted and managed advanced aerodynamics research in compressors and turbines. Dave received his PhD from Iowa State University in 1996. He was awarded the ASME Melville medal for his research of boundary layer development in turbomachinery. Dave is an active member of the AIAA and ASME.

Jeremy Hollman, Alumnus
Jeremy Hollman has worked in the aerospace engineering field since 2000 and for Scientific Systems since 2016. His areas of technical experience include testing design and execution for autonomous systems, liquid rocket engine, propulsion system, and fluid component design and development, general fluid dynamics, and thermal management design and analysis, along with general program and project management.

Since joining Scientific Systems he has been involved with the demonstration of the ImageNav system as a means for GPS denied navigation for vehicles. At Aurora he was the lead propulsion engineer for the DARPA Rapid Eye aircraft and Vulture aircraft, performed cycle analysis, and design and trade study activity on a variety of proposed engine concepts in support of other programs, as well as supporting the NASA N+3 program in Phase 1 as Aurora’s PM and then Co-PI in Phase 2. In addition to these activities he has served as the IPT lead for the VTOL X-Plane Power Generation system under a DARPA contract and PI/PM on a variety of other SBIR/STTR programs for NASA and the US DoD. He served as the Chief Engineer on an Office of Naval Research Autonomous helicopter program to deliver aerial cargo for the Marines (AACUS). He served as the Director of Aerospace Systems and Directed several groups of researchers at Aurora’s Research and Development Center in Cambridge, MA working on developing, analyzing, and integrating aerospace systems. 

Prior to moving to the east coast he worked for Space Exploration Technologies, and the Boeing Company in Southern California. He was involved in SpaceX from the beginning, helping to develop, test, qualify, and launch the company’s family of launch vehicles. He joined the company in 2002 when it was made up of less than 20 people and helped to grow the company to over 400 employees and a successful launch of the the Falcon 1 vehicle. At SpaceX Hollman was the director of propulsion development, which oversaw the design, development, and production of the Merlin engine. He also served as the responsible engineer for the Falcon 1 vehicle supporting the launch operations team at the range during assembly checkout and launch activities. He worked with his team to design and develop a variety of fluid flow components including but not limited to check valves, ball values, hydraulic actuators, vent/relief values, and butterfly valves for fuel and cryogenic service, developing, qualifying, and eventually flying, on the Falcon 1 flight vehicle.

He currently holds three patents ranging from high altitude combustion systems to small-unmanned aerial vehicles. In 2012 he was one of ~100 engineers and researchers from across the United States invited to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Engineering Symposium and also attended the EU – USA forum in 2014 as one of ~65 engineers and researchers to participate in that event.

Keith Kasych
Keith Kasych, Alumnus

Keith Kasych is currently the Senior Manager for Certification, Propulsion, Analysis, and Test at Spirit AeroSystems.  He leads a team of over 50 engineers, technicians, and specialty skills to support enterprise efforts ranging across commercial, defense, and R&D projects.  With over 22 years of structural engineering experience, Keith has worked on multiple products, including: T-6A, 777, 787-8/-9, A350-900, 737 MAX -8/-9/-7 and Defense.  Contributions span the entire aircraft life cycle: engineering definition, structural testing, flight testing, certification, production support, and fleet support.  He previously held delegation for finding of compliance to both FAA and EASA regulations for Structures – Fuselage, supporting ATC for the 737 MAX -8.

He earned his Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State University in 1995.

Vera Martinovich, Alumna
Vera Martinovich is the manager for Flight and Electronic Systems Technology in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Product Development. Her duties include oversight for flight deck, airspace, avionics, cybersecurity, and connectivity technology development. Her previous experience for most of her 27 years at Boeing was as an engineer, mostly in flight controls and aircraft handling qualities. Her airplane programs included the F-15, AV-8B, V-22, 777, and 787. Her interest in flight extends beyond her professional life. Vera is a commercial pilot and part-time flight instructor, and she holds type ratings on the B-25 Mitchell and DC-3, which she flies for a local museum. She and her husband own and maintain three airplanes, and she loves aerobatics, floatplane flying, and formation flying. Vera was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Iowa. She got her Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State in 1988, then her Master’s in Aero/Astro at MIT. Six years ago, she completed a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga and will begin an MBA at the University of Washington fall 2015.

Roger Merriman, Alumnus
Roger Merriman has worked at Textron Aviation since 1996 (previously Cessna and Beechcraft), with a short detour at Valent Aerostructures and AGCO from 2010-2012. He is currently the Quality Assurance Manager covering suppliers, metal bond, small parts and electrical, receiving inspection and non-destructive inspection (NDI). Roger started his career at Cessna Aircraft Company in the Flight Test department as a flight test engineer, has spent time in supply chain management as an avionics engineer, been active in the six sigma and continuous improvement group as a Master Black Belt and then joined the Quality Assurance team where he has spent the last 10 years of his career in increasing roles of responsibility. He received his degree in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State in 1995 and a Masters of Business Administration from University of Colorado in 2001. Roger is an active member in ASQ as the company representative for Textron and in NADCAP as the representative for Textron Aviation.

Benjamin Nimmergut, Alumnus
Benjamin Nimmergut is the Boeing 777 Airplane Level Integration Chief Engineer responsible for leading a team consisting of engineering operations, safety/certification and performance, liaison engineering, customer engineering, delivery support and product improvement. Previously Nimmergut was the 777 Production Engineering Chief Engineer responsible for development, implementation and optimization of the 777 program build plan. Prior to that he was the 747/767 Interiors Chief Engineer. From 2007 through 2011, Nimmergut held several different Interiors leadership positions on the 747-8 development program.

He joined Boeing in 2001 as an interiors design engineer in the Everett facility on the 777 Program. He helped establish the Everett Interiors Lean Team and value stream mapping exercises within engineering. He has also served as a Boeing volunteer with Junior Achievement and during Boeing’s Educator Enrichment Days.

Nimmergut is serving a three year term on the Iowa State University Aerospace Engineering Department’s Advisory Council. He has served as the Chair of Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings program where he oversaw the operations of over 100 volunteers that took inner city youth into the wilderness. He graduated from Seattle’s Leadership Tomorrow program in 2010.

Nimmergut received Master of Business Administration and Master of Engineering Management degrees from Northwestern University. At Northwestern he received the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award for leading the school’s Net Impact Chapter, which focused on how socially responsible business practices create competitive advantages. Nimmergut received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two daughters and enjoys mountain climbing, biking, video games and Legos!

RRezabek Photo 2015 B_web
Rick Rezabek, Alumnus
Rick Rezabek is a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is a graduate of Iowa State University’s Aerospace Engineering Program in 1980. He was hired into Lockheed’s Skunk Works Organization in 1980. Rezabek has worked directly in a number of development projects, from Concept Definition through Full Scale Development and Production. He has experience as an aerodynamicist and systems engineer of several air vehicle development programs, including F-117, F-22 fighter aircraft, and Dark Star ISR UAV platforms. He performed weapon separation analyses, and flight testing for the F-117 Strike Fighter during its Full Scale Development period. He was the Chief Engineer of Lockheed Martin’s ASTOVL Program and the Joint Strike Fighter Program’s X-35 Concept Demonstrator Aircraft from 1993-2000, with responsibility for all technical engineering of the three X-35 variants and later served as the X-35 Product Manager from 2000-2001. He partnered to form Black Ram Engineering LLC, an aerospace engineering services company in 2001 along with several other engineering and development companies. Black Ram was a major contributor to several other programs, including Insitu’s RQ-21A Blackjack, and Northrop Grumman’s X-47 Unmanned Combat Air System. Rezabek is currently practicing retirement, and consulting on a non-frequent basis. He currently stewards an award winning 1937 Stinson SR-9F Reliant as pilot and owner.

Joe Spiess, Alumnus

Joseph (Joe) Spiess is the programs manager for Rockwell Collins Government Systems Commercial HF radio products. He currently leads a product line team for HF radios used in most DoD wide body aircraft and similar HF ground based systems.

Joe was commissioned a second lieutenant in the USAF after completing the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Iowa State University in 1987. He started his career as a maintenance officer on EF-111A aircraft and deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. He held a wide range of program management positions during his 20 year USAF career, leading government and contractor teams in conversion of B-2 test aircraft to operational status and upgrade of NORAD air defense sectors after 9/11.

Since joining Rockwell Collins in 2008, Joe has led various programs including: FAA certification of avionics upgrade to US Army C-23, and avionics updates for Polish M-28 aircraft. Joe led the Rockwell Collins Government Systems KC-46 development of a new remote vision system which allows USAF boom operators to refuel aircraft using remote sensors on a 3D display.

Joe is from Milan, Illinois and holds a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State University and a Master in Business Administration from Wright State University. He has program management certifications from the Department of Defense and Program Management Institute.

David Voracek
David Voracek, Alumnus
David Voracek has worked at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center since 1987. He is currently the NASA Armstrong Center Chief Technologist. He received his degree in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State in 1986, Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Northrop University in Los Angeles CA in 1991, and a Master’s of Science in Systems Architecture and Engineering from USC in 2008. He started as a research engineer in structural dynamics working on flight research programs such as F-16XL, X-29, and High Alpha Research Vehicle doing ground vibration testing and flight flutter testing. His research included flight flutter techniques, active structural damping, and piezoelectric systems tests. In 1995, David was the chief engineer for the F/A-18 Systems Research Aircraft. He worked with the technologists from NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to integrate their experiments to the aircraft, coordinate the technical engineering staff, and give technical briefings. The technology included EMA and EHA systems, fiber optic engine sensors, Integrated Structural Antenna, and structural excitation systems. David’s duties included being a mission controller and flight test engineer for the flights. David accumulated 25 hours as a flight test engineer in the backseat of the F/A-18 aircraft during his time as the SRA Chief Engineer. From 1998 to 2002, David was assigned as the chief engineer for the Active Aeroelastic Wing Project (X-53). This was a joint AFRL, Boeing, and NASA project. David led the formulation team that developed the research objectives and requirements for the flight project. He led the technology and engineering staff from the requirements development and through the flight characterization of the aircraft. He set the ground work for the control law requirements and helped develop the verification process for the flight controls. David worked five years in the Business Development office working with other government agencies and industry in formulation of technology development programs. David was the manager of the $1M Dryden Flight Research and Productivity Tools project. This project was a competitive technology development IRAD program at Dryden. In 2008 he was appointed the Deputy Director for Research and Engineering where he helped to supervise a 143 person Directorate and managed the Research budget. In April 2010, David took a temporary assignment to NASA HQ to help in the formulation of the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist. In November 2010, David was appointed the NASA Dryden Center Chief Technologist.  As Center Chief Technologist he manages the Technology Portfolio at the center and is a member of the NASA Center Technology Council with the other 9 NASA Centers.

Wellborn Steven 2009edit
Steven Wellborn, Alumnus
Steve Wellborn joined Rolls-Royce in 1996 after obtaining his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University. Working first in methods, his responsibilities included the development and implementation of advanced three-dimensional viscous flow analyses tools for multistage turbomachinery design. Putting those tools into practice, he moved into aerodynamic design. Here, Steve was directly involved with over a dozen turbomachinary designs including the Trent 1000 which flies on the  Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Steve has been lucky to perform and fund research with several US and UK universities, and continues his close relationship with these institutions by lecturing often to both undergraduate and graduate students. He has also worked closely with US government agencies including the Air Force, Navy, DARPA and NASA. Steve is a member of ASME, AIAA and RAeSoc and has received several team and individual awards, including the Royal Aeronautical Society Gold Award in 2008. Recently, Steve was named a Rolls-Royce Senior Fellow of Turbomachinery Systems. Steve is currently the Head of Design Systems Engineering. The team, of approximately 200 people across the globe, is responsible for the development, deployment, support and maintenance of computational design systems which enable faster and more accurate prediction and optimization of performance and cost attributes of Rolls-Royce products. These systems include disciplines such as Finite Element Analysis, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Cost Engineering, Materials and Process Modeling, Knowledge Management and Automated Design Methods.

Positions Available

Three Ph.D. positions, Engineering Mechanics program in mechanics and materials, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor Valery Levitas group

Three positions available to perform work on federally funded projects on modeling stress-induced phase transformations, plasticity, and their interactions at nano-, micro-, and macroscales. For more information and how to apply, click here.

Aerospace Engineering Hours

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  • Emergency contact: Building supervisor Jim Benson, 515-294-4946