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.
Tia Benson Tolle is the director of Boeing Commercial Airplane Advanced Materials, Product 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. She 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 College and Trustee at Large for University of Washington’s Alumni Association.
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.
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.
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.
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.