Amelia Earhart Aerospace Summit Speakers

Introduction to Aerospace Careers Panelists

Lewis Groswald - Introduction to Aerospace Careers Panelist

Government Relations Senior Manager, Civil Space Programs, Lockheed Martin

Lewis Groswald is Government Relations Senior Manager, Civil Space Programs, with Lockheed Martin, where he supports the company’s Commercial Civil Space efforts with the federal government. Prior to joining Lockheed, Lewis was the Program Director for the Aerospace Engineering department at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he oversaw their flagship PhD recruitment & enrichment program, the Smead Program, as well as managed aspects of departmental operations, outreach & communications, and strategic partnerships. Lewis started his career with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine working for their Space Studies Board and Aeronautics & Space Engineering Board, starting as their Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern and becoming a research associate and then associate program officer supporting and directing studies across the Earth and space sciences portfolio, aeronautics, and national space policy matters. He went on to join the staff of the US Senate Subcommittee on Science & Space of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation where worked on science, space, and cybersecurity policy and legislation, including reauthorizations for NASA and America COMPETES. After his time at the Senate, he joined New York University as chief communications officer for their Institute for the Study of Decision Making before moving out to Colorado. Lewis currently lives with his husband and their dog, Tycho (named for astronomer, Tycho Brahe) in Alexandria, VA.

Jamie Krakover - Introduction to Aerospace Careers Panelist

Manager for Strength, Design, and Multi-Discipline Engineers, Boeing Global Services

Jamie is a manager in Boeing Global Services for strength, design, and multi-discipline engineers. She has a bachelor's degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University and a master’s degree in the same field from Washington University in St. Louis. In her almost 15 years of industry experience, Jamie has worked in Structures, Materials, Composites, R&D, and even in Boeing's Teardown Lab. She lives in Missouri with her husband, son, and their dog Rogue, named after the X-Men. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing YA and MG sci fi and fantasy, and cosplaying at comic cons.

Tim O’Brien - Introduction to Aerospace Careers Panelist

General Manager, AI Programs, Microsoft Corp.

Tim leads Ethical AI Advocacy at Microsoft and is responsible for programs to drive and promote responsible development and use of technology, inclusive of public policy and the ethics of artificial intelligence. As part of this role, Tim conducts research focused on ethical use of AI across geographies and cultures. Tim is also a Guest Lecturer at INSEAD, one of the world’s leading business schools, where he speaks on cross-cultural leadership and ethics.

Tim is a frequent speaker on AI ethics and responsible use of technology and has been featured in international media, including the Wall Street Journal, MIT Sloan Management Review, and NPR.

A career technology evangelist, Tim led the Global Communications group for Microsoft, managing communications strategy and operations in over 90 countries around the world, and the Platform Strategy team, where he was responsible for technical evangelism to drive developer adoption of Microsoft platforms and services. Before joining Microsoft in 2003, Tim worked as an engineer, a marketer and a consultant at both startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has over 25 years of experience in the tech industry.

Tim has a BS in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He is currently pursuing a Master of Jurisprudence degree at the University of Washington School of Law, studying cyberlaw and public policy.

Rob Verger - Introduction to Aerospace Careers Panel Moderator

Associate Editor and Reporter, Popular Science

Rob Verger is an associate editor and reporter with Popular Science, where he frequently writes about aviation and the military. While he also covers topics such as transportation, gadgets, and outdoor gear, writing about aerospace is a special passion of his. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, he's also written for The Boston Globe, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, VICE News, CJR, and other publications. He's also been a guest on the Today Show and made multiple appearances on Fox Business and the Cheddar network. Follow him on Twitter at @robverger.

Vidya Vishwanathan - Introduction to Aerospace Careers Panelist

PhD candidate, Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace & Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech

Vidya Vishwanathan is a PhD candidate at the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace & Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. Her research is on the study of high Reynolds number turbulent boundary layers in pressure gradient conditions over rough and smooth wall surfaces. As an experimentalist she conducts her research primarily in the Virginia Tech Stability Wind Tunnel in which she observes and measures the behavior turbulent velocity fields using particle image velocimetry (PIV). Vidya received her Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech in 2018, for which she concentrated in spacecraft design and pursued minors in French and Math.

Trailblazers in Aerospace Panelists

Brian Argrow - Trailblazers in Aerospace Panelist

Schaden Leadership Professor and Chair, Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, Director, Integrated Remote & In-Situ Sensing Program (IRISS)

BRIAN M. ARGROW is Schaden Leadership Professor and Chair of the Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, and Director of the Integrated Remote & In-Situ Sensing Program (IRISS). His research includes design and deployment of small unmanned aircraft systems, airspace integration, aerodynamics, and high-speed gas dynamics. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA); a current member of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; a current member of the Defense Innovation Board Space Advisory Committee; and he received the Department of the Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service Award for his service on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

Sirisha Bandla - Trailblazers in Aerospace Panelist

Vice President of Government Affairs, Virgin Galactic

Sirisha Bandla currently works as the Vice President of Government Affairs at Virgin Galactic. In this role, Sirisha oversees legislative, regulatory, and government business priorities for the company.

Previously, Sirisha served as the Associate Director for the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, an industry association of commercial spaceflight companies. At CSF, Sirisha worked on various policies with the aim to promote and enable the then emerging commercial space industry. Before CSF, she worked as an aerospace engineer designing components for advanced aircraft at L-3 Communications in Greenville, Texas.

Sirisha has a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue and holds a Master of Business Administration from the George Washington University.

William Crossley - Trailblazers in Aerospace Panelist

Professor and J. William Uhrig and Anastasia Vournas Head of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University

William A. (Bill) Crossley is Professor and J. William Uhrig and Anastasia Vournas Head of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue; he has been a faculty member since 1995. He is also the Director for the Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability (PEGASAS), the FAA’s Center of Excellence for General Aviation. Prof. Crossley earned his BSE (Aero) in 1990 from the University of Michigan, and he worked at McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems while earning his MS (1992) and PhD (1995) in Aerospace Engineering via the Arizona State University Industrial Fellows Program. At Purdue, Bill has received School, College and University-level teaching awards. He received the College’s Leadership Award in 2016, participated in the 2016-17 Big Ten Academic Alliance Academic Leadership Program, and is part of the 2018-19 Purdue Insights Forum. Bill is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and served the AIAA Aircraft Design Technical Committee chair from 2012-2014. He was an Executive Committee member for the Council of Engineering Systems Universities and served as Chair from 2014-2016. Prof. Crossley led the formation of the System of Systems Signature Area at Purdue and helped establish the Purdue Systems Collaboratory.

Daniel Dumbacher - Trailblazers in Aerospace Moderator

Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Dan Dumbacher is the Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Before joining the AIAA staff in January 2018, Dumbacher was a Professor of Engineering Practice in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University, where he taught courses in systems thinking, systems engineering, and space policy.

Prior to Purdue, Dumbacher served as the Deputy Associate Administrator, Exploration Systems Development Division, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. In that capacity, he provided leadership and management as the Program Director for Exploration Systems Development, which included: the Space Launch System, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations development and integration efforts. He led a national team of over 5,000, spanning all NASA centers and industry, and was responsible for a $3 billion annual budget.

During his career, he has received numerous awards and honors including the coveted Silver Snoopy Award and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. In 2015, Purdue recognized him with the Gustafson Teaching Award.

Dumbacher earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has also completed the Senior Managers in Government program at Harvard University.

Dumbacher is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana. He and his wife Lee have three grown children.

Sabrina Khan - Trailblazers in Aerospace Panelist

Senior, Planetary Science and Aerospace Engineering, MIT

Sabrina is a senior at MIT majoring in Planetary Science and Aerospace Engineering. She has held internships at Accion Systems and NASA JPL, where she currently studies geochemistry and geomorphology on Mars as a participating scientist on the MSL Science Team. In her previous two years at JPL, Sabrina worked on integration and testing for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.

At MIT, Sabrina worked in the Space Systems Lab studying Mars mission architectures, the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research designing software for a spectrograph installed on the Magellan telescopes in Chile, and also helped to design and test a CubeSat called Beavercube for her capstone course. She served as president of the MIT chapter of the Women of Aeronautics and Astronautics (WoAA) for two years and is currently the Internal Vice Chair for WoAA national.

Connie Liu - Trailblazers in Aerospace Panelist

Propulsion Development Engineer, SpaceX

Connie Liu graduated from MIT in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering. At MIT, she was one of the propulsion leads in Rocket Team, where she helped design and test Pyralis, a bipropellant aerospike engine, as well as a solid propellant rocket for competition. Connie then attended Georgia Tech, where she received her Master’s degree in 2016 and her Ph.D. in 2019 with a focus on electric propulsion (specifically Hall thrusters) and pulsed plasma physics. She was heavily involved in the Society of Women Engineers at both MIT and Georgia Tech, with a primary interest in STEM outreach and mentorship. Connie joined SpaceX in 2019, where she currently works as a propulsion development engineer in the Raptor Engine Combustion Devices group and supports flight operations for Starship. When she’s not working, Connie enjoys hiking, dancing, trying to cook a dish from every country in the world, and learning how to do random craft projects!

Keynote Lecturers

Chris Barman - Keynote Lecturer

Vice President for Global Automotive Solutions, HCL Technologies

Chris Barman is currently the Vice President for Global Automotive Solutions at HCL Technologies. Her focus is on identifying and developing emerging solutions in the driver assistance, autonomy, connected and electrified transportation space as the industry transforms from vehicles to mobility devices. Previously, Chris was the Principal of New Shore, LLC, an advanced technology and strategic consulting firm which has provided services to technology firms, manufacturing enterprises and financial institutions. In a prior role, Chris was the CTO of the Industrial Sector at Eaton, a diversified power management company. In this position she identified and evaluated new product development investments which enabled digitalization, adoption of intelligent products and software as a service technology. She also advanced innovation and leveraging of synergies in electrification across the sector on aircraft, passenger, commercial, and off-highway vehicles. Chris had a 23-year career at Chrysler, where she held roles such as the Vice President of Electrical and Electronics Engineering for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America and Vehicle Line Executive for programs such as the Jeep Cherokee and the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger platform. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Science Center and is a member of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Council at Purdue University. She was previously a Board Member of Inforum. She earned a MBA from the University of Michigan, a MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Oakland University and a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. Chris and her husband, Brian, live happily in west Michigan, have two college aged children, and a lovable Airedale terrier, Mickey.

Allison Bolinger - Keynote Lecturer

Flight Director, NASA

Allison Bolinger grew up in central Ohio dreaming of one day working for NASA. With her sights set on the stars, she chose the Cradle of Astronauts as her launch pad. While studying Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Purdue, she participated in the cooperative education program and spent five tours at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. After graduating with her Bachelor of Science in 2004, she and her new husband, Jeremy (BS, Biology ’04), moved to Houston. She began her full-time career at NASA in the ExtraVehicular Activities (EVA) group, teaching astronauts to spacewalk and working in Mission Control while those spacewalks were executed. After 12.5 years in the EVA group supporting numerous Space Shuttle missions and International Space Station (ISS) expeditions, the last two years of which she served as the EVA Task Group Lead, she moved to the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL). Her role as the NBL Deputy Chief included managing the daily operations of the 6.2 million gallon underwater EVA training facility. In June 2018, a dream was realized when she was selected as a Flight Director. After a little over a year of training, in October 2019, she was certified as the 95th Flight Director. She selected the call sign Athena Flight and has spent over 1,000 hours on console in Mission Control. As a Flight Director, Allison has been primarily focused on ISS, leading the 13th cargo resupply mission of the Northup Grumman Cygnus spacecraft in February 2020. In July 2020, she returned to her roots as she directed two EVAs, ensuring continued ISS operation at full power by upgrading the eighth and final set of external batteries. In April 2021, she will take over the reins as the Lead Increment Flight Director for Expedition 65, where for six months, she will be responsible for coordinating all activities on the ISS during an incredibly complex and challenging timeframe.

Kanika Gakhar - Keynote Lecturer

Propulsion Engineer, SpaceX

Kanika always found great pleasure in analogies. As a young dancer, she would position her center of mass to balance angular moments during her headstands and spins. As an undergraduate researcher at Texas A&M; and an avid fan of analogies, she researched the aeromechanics of natural flapping flight through the development of a hover-capable robotic hummingbird. Studying the vortices and unsteady flows associated with flapping flight motivated her to dive deeper into the generation of losses in complex propulsion systems. Consequently, she decided to pursue her masters in MIT’s Gas Turbine Lab (GTL). As an NSF and Whittle fellow in GTL, she aimed to make aircraft engines more efficient by studying the effects of combustor turbulence on high-pressure turbine performance. Currently, she continues to pursue her interest in the interaction of complex physical phenomena by working as a Propulsion Engineer at SpaceX. While she is excited and proud to be part of an industry that is revolutionizing life for humanity in space as well as on earth, her passion for leadership in service has led her to engage in multiple outreach, tutoring, and mentorship opportunities. She aims to dedicate her life to initiating change and pursuing advancement in both technology as well as society.

Jacqueline Gatson - Keynote Lecturer

Associate Director, Minority Engineering Program (MEP), Purdue University

Jacqueline M. Gatson, Ed.D., is the Associate Director for Purdue University's Minority Engineering Program (MEP). Dr. Gatson has over a decade of experience in higher education, specializing in university and industry engagement, STEM programs and strategic partnerships.

Since joining the Purdue MEP staff in 2019 as the Graduate and Organizational Diversity Strategist, and subsequently as Interim Associate Director, she has been an integral leader in core operational areas including: student engagement and outreach, industry engagement, program management, and curriculum design and instruction. In response to COVID-19, Dr. Gatson created the framework for and lead the execution of MEP’s 2020 Virtual Engineering Summer Programs (ABC, MITE, SEW, and PREFACE), a first in the program’s history. Dr. Gatson also leads several diversity efforts within the college. She is the creator of the Purdue Engineering "We Support Black Engineers Campaign" and is currently working on curriculum and training design for the IDEAL committee diversity initiative. Most recently, she was honored with the New Employee Award in December 2020 from the Purdue College of Engineering.

Known for her leadership and creativity in conceptualizing and managing nationwide signature programming and initiatives, Dr. Gatson served in numerous roles at Kansas State University prior to her arrival at Purdue including: Assistant Director for Career and Employment Services – College of Engineering and STEM Careers; First Generation Scholars Program Coordinator – College of Engineering; and Special Coordinator for Strategic Partnerships – College of Education, Educational Leadership Department. In addition, she has served as a Targeted Research Assistant for the Foundation for California Community Colleges in partnership with the National Science Foundation. She is also a professional member of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE).

Meryl Mallery - Keynote Lecturer

Vice President of Engineering, Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Company

Meryl Mallery is currently the Vice President of Engineering at Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Company. She leads the engineering team which designs and develops innovative solutions to meet the needs of the Aerospace, Missiles and Warfighter markets for flight termination, rocket stage separation, satellite deployment, and military breaching. Meryl has over 25 years of experience in the Aerospace and Defense Industry.

She began her career in 1987 working at the Kaiser Marquardt Corporation in Van Nuys, California. For the next three years she worked on the analysis and design of liquid and gas rocket propulsion systems for tactical and missile defense. She spent the next several years working at Sverdrup Technology in Huntsville, Alabama, supporting the Space Shuttle main engine program at Marshall Space Flight Center. In September of 1997, she began her career at the Ensign-Bickford Aerospace and Defense Company (EBAD) starting as a Research and Development Engineer working on commercial mining and blasting IR&D; projects. She moved to the Aerospace group in 1999 and worked as both an Aerospace Project Engineer and Analytical Engineer before being promoted to Manager of Aerospace Project Engineering in 2008, Director of Project Engineering in 2011 and then becoming the Vice President of Engineering in 2015. She is passionate about supporting STEM education and is an active member of the Connecticut Science Center Board of Trustees as well as the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF) Board of Trustees.

Meryl holds a B.S. in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from U.C. Davis and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State.

Sabina Nawaz - Empowerment Keynote and Interactive Workshop Speaker

Global CEO Coach, leadership keynote speaker, writer

Sabina Nawaz is a global CEO coach, leadership keynote speaker, and writer working in over 26 countries. She advises C-level executives in Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies, non-profits, and academic institutions. Sabina also teaches faculty at Northeastern University and facilitates a faculty fellowship development program at Drexel University. Previously she spent over 14 years at Microsoft. As an executive there, Sabina led the company’s executive development and succession planning efforts for over 11,000 managers and 700 executives. In addition, Sabina has spoken at hundreds of seminars, events, and conferences including TEDx. Currently, she sits on the board of Power and Systems, a leadership development institute. Sabina believes the greatest privilege of working with leaders is bearing witness to their acts of courage. Look for more stories, insights, and advice on thriving as a leader on Forbes.com, HBR.org, and Inc.com. Sabina’s education includes a B.A. in Computer Science with a minor in Electronics from Smith College, an M.S. in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, and several certifications and advanced training in leadership development.

Seetha Raghavan - Keynote Lecturer

Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Central Florida

Dr. Seetha Raghavan is a Professor at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida where she leads the Aerostructures laboratory. She completed her doctoral studies in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University and her MS in Aerospace Engineering from ISAE-SUPAERO in Toulouse, France. She has seven years of experience in the aerospace industry as a senior engineer involved in Aircraft Structural Analysis, Maintenance, Repair & Modifications and Non-destructive testing. She is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She was honored by Women in Aerospace with the 2019 Aerospace Educator Award.

Darron Walker - Keynote Lecturer

Senior People Leader, Virgin Groups aerospace division, Virgin Orbit

Darron Walker is a cutting edge, strategic, visionary People leader with a clear, as well as keen sense of purpose and urgency. He is deeply passionate in his support of consistently achieving positive business results by aligning people strategies with the organization’s vision. Raised and educated in Southern California, Darron earned his BSM from Pepperdine University, as well as his MBA. He later broadened his educational horizons and attended NEOMA University in Rouen, France earning his international business credential in global economics. His global education has led Darron to travel the globe doing economic empowerment work with charitable ecclesiastical organizations. Starting his own private consulting practice over 11 years ago, Darron has been a key people executive for some of the world’s most impressive engineering organizations, and has become a national startup specialist for emerging organizations in the high tech, aerospace, defense, sustainable energy, and electric vehicle tech. He is a results-oriented individual recognized for building high-performing teams/organizations by collaborating with business leaders to drive end-to-end human resources management programs; thereby leading high-impact diversity and inclusion initiatives that create a solid framework to support corporate health, and manage sustainable expansion. His work is the link between strategy, talent acquisition, workforce analytics, and the consistent achievement of corporate objectives. Darron is currently the Senior People Leader for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Groups aerospace division, Virgin Orbit located in Long Beach, California, and leads all affirmative action planning, corporate equality index, employee resources groups, and is an active consultant in the Los Angeles metropolitan areas developing small businesses, such as child care centers, in South Central Los Angeles.