Industrial Advisory Council


Members of the Aerospace Engineering Industrial Advisory Council, 2019, with Interim Department Chair Alric Rothmayer.
Members of the Aerospace Engineering Industrial Advisory Council, 2019, with Interim Department Chair Alric Rothmayer.

Council Member Biographies

Tia Benson Tolle is the director of Boeing Commercial Airplane Materials and Fabrication, Product Strategy and Future Airplane Development, where she leads the investment and application of integrated materials technologies for current and future commercial airplane applications. In this role she works closely with supply chain strategy and emerging research and development trends for BCA across all material classes and fabrication and assembly enabling technologies. Prior to joining Boeing, Tia held several technical leadership roles within the Air Force in advanced composite structures, and advanced nonmetallic materials and manufacturing.  Prior to her career in the Air Force she worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the Space Shuttle Flight Training Division, Mission Operations Directorate.   

Tia is a Fellow by the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE), an International Past President of SAMPE, and was President of the Materials Research Society (2014). She is the BCA Executive Sponsor for Boeing’s SAMPE External Technical Affiliation as well as Edmonds Community College. Serves on Iowa State University’s Aerospace Engineering Department’s Industry Advisory Council, University of Washington Materials Science & Engineering Department’s Industry Advisory Council, and is a Trustee of Edmonds Community College.


Mary Cardenas is the LaFetra Chair in Environmental Engineering 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.


Kevin Gordon is the Senior Director, Product and Application Lifecycle Management, Collins Aerospace. He leads a Collins wide effort to improve process effectiveness throughout Collins by harmonizing Product and Application Lifecycle Management processes, partnering with all Collins Strategic Business Units and Functional Groups. Kevin is responsible for leading Collins ALM and PLM strategies including PLM Implementation. This includes implementation of all applicable PLM processes, using Teamcenter, from requirements definition, solution design, and implementation. This system delivers a collaborative and compliant common environment, creating financial benefits to the company by harmonizing engineering and operations systems in support of an overall digital strategy. 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 positions were Sr. Director for Advanced Technology and co-leading the largest SAP transition in UTC. He also led the working teams creating the initial UTAS digital strategy vision. 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 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 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 is currently the Senior Manager for Advanced product Development at Spirit AeroSystems. He leads a team of Design, Analysis, and R&D engineers to investigate and test new technologies for applications in the aerostructures industry. With almost 24 years of structural engineering experience, Keith has worked multiple roles on various aerospace products, including: defense, business jets, commercial, and research and development. 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.


Vera Martinovich is 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 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 is a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and 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. She loves 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 Univ. 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 the Quality Assurance Manager, covering suppliers, metal bond, small parts and electrical, receiving inspection and non-destructive inspection (NDI). 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 and 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 a MBA 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 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!


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 HF Products at Collins Aerospace Mission Systems Division. 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. 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 VanHorn is a Professor in the Practice of Management in the Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business, Houston, Texas, where he has been a faculty member since 2007. He is also a managing partner of Angel Rock Management Advisors in the Houston area. He has also held other consulting and management positions in the Houston and San Francisco Bay areas. From 1990-1999 VanHorn was a principal engineer with The Boeing Company where he performed management and structural dynamics engineering roles in support of NASA contracts for the $35B International Space Station program and Shuttle/Mir program.VanHorn received a B.S. and M.S. (M.Eng.) in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University in 1989 and 1990, respectively. He served as chair of the Iowa State Department of Aerospace Engineering Industrial Advisory Council from 2012-2018 and served on the Board of Directors of the Iowa State University Alumni Association from 2009-2015.


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.


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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.


Post-Doctoral Position

Post-Doctoral Position in Experimental Phase Transitions and Plasticity Under High Pressure

Post-doctoral position at Iowa State University is available starting Summer/Fall 2019 to perform experimental research on coupled plastic flow, phase transformations, and other structural changes under high pressure and torsion of a sample in rotational diamond anvil cell. Experience with in situ high pressure experimentation and/or x-ray characterization of stresses and structural changes in materials at the micron scale is desired. Close collaboration with theoretical / computational collaborators and with Ames Laboratory of DoE is expected. Please email your application to Prof. Valery Levitas vlevitas@iastate.edu.

Aerospace Engineering Hours

  • Office, 1200 Howe: Summer hours, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
  • Howe Hall: Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
  • Emergency contact: Building supervisor Jim Benson, 515-294-4946

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