Robotica STEM Workforce Summit 2019 - Speakers

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 Speakers for 2019 Robotica STEM Workforce Development Summit at WPI Seaport in Boston

Rachel LeBlanc, Assistant Vice President of Academic and Corporate Engagement, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
AUVSI New England Chapter Vice President

Rachel LeBlanc is the Assistant Vice President of Academic and Corporate Engagement at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  For the past 15 years, she has been working to bridge the gap between the needs of industry and the skills of the incumbent workforce.  Rachel has managed the workforce development department for the university for several years, focusing on building market-driven programs that leverage WPI’s academic strengths. 

She is also responsible for strategic economic engagement, including the WPI Boston Seaport innovation space and the launch of a new medical cyber-physical systems research and development center, PracticePoint. Rachel currently serves on the board of directors for the International Council on Systems Engineering and AUVSI New England.  She has a B.S. and M.S. in the life sciences, and an M.B.A. 

Simon Mueller, Project Leader, Boston Consulting Group

Simon Mueller is a Project Leader in BCG's Boston office. Over his nearly 8 years with the firm, he has advised more than 20 companies in the technology, industrials and public sector space with a special focus on robotics/automation, additive manufacturing, industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence.

His functional expertise is growth strategy and operations. In his previous role, Simon helped launch BCG’s Henderson Institute, its NYC-based think tank for corporate strategy. He also sits on the board of The Future Society, a Harvard Kennedy School-incubated NGO that focuses on the governance of emerging technologies. Simon lives in Boston, Massachusetts.


Jason Walker, CEO and co-founder, Waypoint Robotics

Jason Walker is the CEO and co-founder of Waypoint Robotics (formerly Stanley Robotics). Waypoint is focused on making autonomous mobile robots accessible to more people and companies.

Prior to founding Waypoint, Mr. Walker was the cofounder and Director of Operations at CyPhy Works. Mr. Walker also served as Lead Roboticist and Principal Investigator for CyPhy Works’ contracts with agencies such as DARPA, NIST, and the National Science Foundation. Mr. Walker has 17+ years of experience in product and business development, including B2B, consumer, and government markets. Prior to co-founding CyPhy Works he was the quality, reliability, and testing manager for the Roomba vacuuming robot at iRobot.

Walker received a BSEE with a concentration in Robotics and Control Systems from Kansas State University and is a lifelong entrepreneur.

Suzanne Sontgerath, Director of Pre-collegiate Outreach Programs, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Suzanne Sontgerath is the Director of Pre-collegiate Outreach Programs within the Worcester Polytechnic Institute division of Enrollment Management.  

Sontgerath has 16 years of experience in the development and delivery of K-12 STEM Outreach programs.  She is currently responsible for the management of more than 30 STEM outreach programs at the elementary, middle and high school levels. These programs bring over 2000 K-12 students to WPI each year.  Sontgerath is the co-director of WPI’s Camp REACH program, which was awarded a Presidential Award for Excellence in STEM mentoring in 2011. She has several publications related to developing engineering curriculum for middle school students and encouraging women in engineering.  

Sontgerath holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from WPI and a M. Ed from Worcester State University.  

David Ortendahl, Director of Corporate Relations, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

David Ortendahl currently serves as Director of Corporate Relations at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA.

In this role he oversees the WPI Career Development Center “Employer Team” and actively bridges the strategic corporate development for the career center in parallel with strategic initiatives of the WPI Division of Academic & Corporate Engagement. David has served in a variety of roles in Higher Education from Student Affairs to Development. He is a member of NACE (National Association of Colleges & Employers) and NACRO (Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers) and has over a decade of experience in employer/corporate relations.


Sally J. Phelps, Director of Post-Graduate Planning, Olin College of Engineering

As the Director of Post-Graduate Planning at Olin College of Engineering, Sally is part of the revolution to re-invent engineering education. Olin graduated its first class in 2006, and is committed to innovative pedagogy and hands-on, cross-functional team learning.  With 50% female enrollment, Olin College graduates engineering innovators who are leading the charge in solving the global challenges of tomorrow. 

At Olin, Sally and her team work with students and alumni to find their passion and advance their careers.  They facilitate a wide variety of recruiting events and workshops, aiding in all aspects of the job search and graduate school application process.  In 2017, 88% of Olin freshmen secured a technical internship or research assignment during their first summer.  With the support of Sally and her Post-Graduate Planning team, Olin is a top producer of Fulbright and NSF fellowships.

Before Sally joined Olin in 2007, she spent 22 years in various roles at Bose Corporation from sales to advertising to human resources.  From 2000-2007, Sally and her team created the University Relations program at Bose Corporation, working with the best colleges nationwide to bring the strongest talent to the company. 


Matthew Connors, Vocational Director, Blackstone Valley Technical High School

Matthew Connors serves as the Vocational Director for curriculum and assessment at Blackstone Valley Technical High School.  Part of his current role is to oversee the diverse robotics program at BVT which competes in NRL, VEX and FIRST robotics competitions. 

Prior to his current position, Mr. Connors spent a decade as an engineering instructor and robotics adviser and is fully committed to team-based and project-based learning opportunities for students.  He holds a Bachelor's in Engineering from WPI, a Master's in STEM Education from the University of Cincinnati.


Mary E. Schubert, Deputy Director, Adaptive Engine Programs, Pratt & Whitney, a division of UTC

Mary Schubert has spent the last 13+ years in the aerospace industry, working in various areas including engineering, operations, supply chain, quality, and program management. She is currently responsible for leading a half billion dollar US Air Force program. In her free time, she enjoys sharing her love of running with others and has completed master’s degrees in Manufacturing Engineering and Organizational Leadership, though WPI will always be her favorite place for higher education.

Sue Peckham, BAE Systems, Director of Engineering Development

Sue Peckham is part of BAE Systems in Hudson, NH. She  is currently a Director within the Engineering Development team and the manager in front of the Engineering Leadership Development Program.

Sue earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire, and a MS in Manufacturing Engineering/Engineering Management from University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Over her career she has work at Raytheon, IKEK optical, as well as at INISEL (while living in Spain). Sue has been with BAE Systems for 25 years and has held a variety of positions. During her career, Sue has held various engineering design, analysis, and project management roles on various technologies across multiple business areas and multiple sites.

Since the 2004 timeframe, Sue has dedicated most of her time in management and leadership roles focusing on teaching leadership courses, developing relationships through collaboration and discussion, working the development of key programs (e.g. Engineering Operations Partnership Program, Mechanical Analysis Capability Group), mentoring, STEM activities (e.g. retaining top talent, FIRST, etc.) and helping others develop and attain their own career success. Sue was also part of the initial push nearly 15 years ago to get a spin cycle program, as well as wellness areas, integrated into the company sites.

Thomas Ryden, Executive Director, MassRobotics

Thomas Ryden is the Executive Director of MassRobotics.  MassRobotics is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the robotics community and help grow the next generation of robotics and connected device companies.

Prior to joining MassRobotics Mr. Ryden was the founder and CEO/COO of VGo Communications, Inc.   While at VGo Mr. Ryden oversaw the development and launch of the VGo telepresence robot. The VGo is used by hospitals, eldercare facilities, schools and other organizations to help people stay better connected, allowing users to essentially be in two places at once.  

Previously, Mr. Ryden was Director of Sales & Marketing at iRobot Corporation.  Under his leadership iRobot secured over $300M in contracts and revenue from its government and industrial products increased from $2M to over $80M annually.   In addition Mr. Ryden held roles in program management, overseeing the development of some of iRobot’s most successful products.  

Mr. Ryden is the co-chairman of the robotics cluster of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and serves on the Mechatronics & Robotics Engineering (MRE) Education Advisory Board, the Tufts University Computer Science Advisory Board, the WPI Robotics Engineering Advisory Board and the Robotics Technical Advisory Panel for ASME.   He also is an advisor to a number of robotics start-ups. Mr. Ryden has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Vermont and an MBA from Bentley University. 


Amanda Bernhardt
Chapter Relations Manager, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)

Amanda Bernhardt has served as Chapter Relations Manager for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) since the position was created in 2016. She oversees AUVSI’s Chapters, including both professional and Student Chapters, and supports their volunteer leaders to provide engagement with all AUVSI Members at a local level. She has launched and supported several new initiatives to bring additional value to the community, including the AUVSI Remote Pilots Council, formalized Student Chapters, a professional mentoring program, the association’s inaugural Volunteer Appreciation Week, and an expanded Chapter Awards program.

Amanda has spent 10 years working to strengthen the connection between Associations and their Chapters, and empowering volunteers to share their unique skills with their community. Prior to joining AUVSI, Amanda worked at American String Teachers Association (ASTA), supporting its 50 State Chapters and 60+ Student Chapters. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from George Mason University and currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their rambunctious dog.

Ryan Clutterbuck, Staffing & Engineering Recruitment Professional

Ryan is a staffing consultant with over 15 years of experience working across the robotics and medical device industries on positions ranging from skilled manufacturing through specialized engineering. He brings extensive experience working with companies to staff their engineering teams utilizing a methodology that includes brand building and story telling. Ryan has worked with companies ranging from Fortune 500 to robotics start ups  in order to help them identify and hire exceptional engineers.  He has also consulted with several companies on how to set up effective talent pipelines and differentiate themselves in the market.

Emily Leopold, Director of Career Services & Industry Partnerships, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

Emily Leopold is the Director of Career Services & Industry Partnerships at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT), a small, private, non-profit college in Boston training Boston’s future workforce for technical roles in the fields of advanced manufacturing, healthcare, construction, and transportation.  Over the past decade, Emily has dedicated her career to connecting underserved youth to educational and career opportunities within Boston.  In her current role, she works closely with employers across greater-Boston to build partnerships that prepare and connect a diverse talent pipeline for internships and entry-level employment.  Prior to joining BFIT, Emily directed a career development program in BPS at Fenway High School and also worked as a college counselor and financial aid advisor at various BPS high schools.  Before calling Boston her home, Emily grew up in Virginia and earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia.


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