Council Member Biographies
Joe Barta is a 1985 graduate of Iowa State University’s Aerospace Engineering Program. A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he was hired into the Lockheed Skunkworks in 1984. As a research specialist and lead aerodynamics engineer, he supported programs such as F-117, YF-22, SR-71, U-2R, Dark Star and classified UAV efforts.
Joe founded Airborne Technologies Inc. in 1996, as a uniquely qualified aerospace firm in the Northern Virginia area. His 35 years of experience within the defense and intelligence communities includes UAV design, performance analysis, payload systems engineering, system development and testing, foreign materiel exploitation, data fusion research, and quick reaction support to worldwide military and intelligence operations.
Following the successful development and production of numerous classified UAV systems, Airborne Technologies, Inc. was acquired in 2010 by L-3 Communications. He remained President of the newly formed Unmanned Systems Division in L-3’s Precision Engagement Sector through August 2011. Joe is founder and CEO of Hangar 48 Aeronautics Inc, serving in a senior strategic advisory role for industry and government in the arena of advanced airborne systems development. He owns and pilots a Piper M600 and enjoys restoration of classic British automobiles.
Mary Cardenas is Professor Emerita at Harvey Mudd College (HMC is 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 a Division Director for 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.
Ryan Engel is the Safety, Certification and Performance leader of the 777 program with The Boeing Company. He received a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University in December of 2004.
He joined Boeing full time in 2005 as an airplane performance engineer in Flight Sciences, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. As a performance engineer, Ryan participated and led flight testing of numerous airplanes including the 787 and 747-8. The highlight of his time as a performance engineer was delivering the first 747-8I to Lufthansa. Additionally, Ryan led complex integration projects for the 777 Program.
In 2014, Ryan transitioned to management in Regulatory Administration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. As a manager, Ryan worked closely with Boeing engineering teams, the FAA, and other regulatory agencies around the world to certify new designs across multiple airplane types including the 777 and 737MAX. In October of 2018, Ryan transitioned to his current role as the Safety, Certification, & Performance (SC&P) leader for the 777 Program. As the SC&P leader, Ryan is responsible for ensuring fleet safety & integrity, airplane certification, and performance for the 777 fleet.
Kevin Gordon is the Senior Director, Certification and Test for the Interiors business in Collins Aerospace. He leads a worldwide team of around 380 people responsible for the airworthiness, certification, and testing of a wide variety of Collins products including all types of seating, furniture, galleys, galley equipment, interior and exterior lighting, oxygen systems, lavatories, de-icing systems, evacuation systems, potable water systems and a variety of other interior products. The work involves all aspects of the Certification process including documentation, analysis, and testing, and also includes the activates required to secure and maintain airworthiness certifications with customers and regulators. Kevin started his Collins Aerospace Systems career in 1996 as a Sr. Project Engineer, and has held positions of increasing responsibility providing leadership in engineering, quality assurance and SAP. His most recent assignments were leading the company-wide technology development, leading the working teams creating the initial UTAS digital strategy vision, and implementing a unified PLM system across the enterprise. Prior to joining UTC, Kevin was a project engineer at McDonnell Douglas and Boeing. 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.
Dave Halstead is a retired manager of Turbomachinery Aerodynamics at GE Aviation. In this role, he was resoinsible for aerodynamics design and technology development for all fans, compressors, and turbines for Aviation’s commercial and military product lines. Prior to that he 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 Ph.D. 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 has worked in the aerospace engineering field since 2000 and for BAE Systems FASTLabs since 2018. As a Technology Development Manager in the Planning and autonomous Control Technologies (PACT) division, he has supported programs looking to advance manned-unmanned teaming and decentralized space-based planning for advanced LEO constellations. His areas of technical experience include testing, design, and implementation for: autonomous systems, liquid rocket engines, propulsion systems, and fluid component design and development. As well as experience in general fluid dynamics, thermal management design and analysis, and general program and project management.
Prior to BAE, Hollman worked for Scientific Systems where he was involved with the demonstration of the ImageNav system as a means for GPS denied navigation for air vehicles. While at Aurora Flight Sciences he was the lead propulsion engineer for the DARPA Rapid Eye aircraft and DARPA 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 another 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’s (ONR) 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 a company of fewer than 15 people and helped to grow the company to over 400 employees and a successful launch of the Falcon 1 vehicle. At SpaceX, Hollman was the Director of Propulsion development, which oversaw the design, development, and production of the Merlin family of booster class engines. He also served as the responsible engineer for the Falcon 1 vehicle supporting the launch operations team at various launch ranges during assembly checkout and launch activities. Hollman 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, as well as ground applications.
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 is Senior Director for Commercial Engineering – U.S. at Spirit AeroSystems, a global leader in aerostructures design and manufacturing. His engineering teams work for multiple customers on the forefront of industry innovation and production, ranging from large scale commercial aircraft, to vertical flight, to business jets and eVTOLs. Keith’s career started in structural analysis, and has worked the full aviation life cycle, from design, testing and certification, full rate production, and aftermarket. He transitioned into a leadership role in 2012, and has since taken on projects and programs of increasing scope and responsibility. Engineering teams have represented disciplines of design, structural analysis, liaison, and others, spanning business units for commercial, defense, research and development, and strategy. Keith earned his B.S. in aerospace engineering from Iowa State (1995) and holds an MBA from Newman University (2020). He previously held delegation for finding of compliance to both FAA and EASA regulations for structures – fuselage, supporting ATC for the 737 MAX -8.
Vera Martinovich is manager of the Future Flight Deck team in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Product Development. Duties include oversight of flight controls, handling qualities, avionics, and systems architecture for the next all-new flight deck. Previous experience at Boeing was as an engineer 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 professional life. She has Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Instructor certificates, and holds type ratings on the B-25 and DC-3, which she flies for a local museum. She and her husband own and maintain three airplanes, and they enjoy aerobatics, floatplane flying, and formation flying. She was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Iowa. She received a B.A. in aerospace engineering at Iowa State in 1988, and an M.S.in Aero/Astro at MIT. She also completed an M.A. in organizational leadership from Gonzaga and an MBA at the University of Washington.
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 a Sr. Flight Test Engineering Specialist working within the sustaining business jet market. His current role involves flight testing and continuous improvement activities on FAA part 25 products. Prior to this role he was a Quality Assurance Manager, covering receiving inspection, non-destructive inspection (NDI), tool and equipment calibration, chemical/mechanical process labs and quality process management teams. He started his career at Cessna in the Flight Test department as a flight test engineer, has spent time in supply chain management as an avionics engineer, has been active in the Six Sigma and continuous improvement group as a Master Black Belt, then joined the Quality Assurance team where he has spent many years of his career in increasing roles of responsibility. He received his degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State in 1995 and an MBA from University of Colorado in 2001 and has received his Ph.D. in industrial engineering at Wichita State University in 2021, with a certificate in foundations of Six Sigma and Quality Improvement. Roger is an active member of ASQ as the company representative for Textron and previously in the NADCAP management council representing Textron Aviation. Other organizational memberships include Society of Flight Test Engineering and AIAA.
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.
Joseph (Joe) Spiess is the Senior Manager, Future Vertical Lift programs at Collins Aerospace MIlitary Avionics & Helicopter Division. He currently leads the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) avionics team supporting the Bell Invictus 360 competitive prototype program.
Joe was commissioned a second lieutenant in the USAF after completing the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Iowa State University. 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 Collins Aerospace in 2008, Joe has led various avionics upgrade programs on U.S Army C-23 and Polish M-28 aircraft. Joe led 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 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.
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 Armstrong.
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 Armstrong Center Chief Technologist.
Steve Wellborn joined Rolls-Royce in 1996 after obtaining his Ph.D. 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 and the RATTRS, a hypersonic cruise missile under development by the United States Air Force. Steve has been lucky to perform and fund research with several U.S. and European universities (Purdue, Virginia Tech, IUPUI, MIT, Cambridge, Oxford and Cotbus), 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. Steve is currently the Head of Aerothermal and Functional Design for Civil Aerospace and is a Rolls-Royce Senior Fellow in Turbomachinery Systems.
Steve is married to Stephanie, who is also an Iowa State University alum. They have two boys, Owen and Evan, who are active at school in Indiana. The family loves to travel abroad, with Italy standing out as a favorite location to relax and enjoy life.