Board of Directors

Robert F. Proctor, Board Chair

Chief, Materials Engineering – Defence

Rolls-Royce Corporation

Rob Proctor is the Defence Chief of Materials at Rolls-Royce Corporation in Indianapolis, IN.  Rob is responsible for developing the strategy to deliver world class materials and manufacturing technology for manufacture and repair of aerospace gas turbines.  Rob has held various management and technical specialist roles during his 18 years at Rolls-Royce.  He has contributed to manufacturing and repair technology development including the application of additive manufacturing, novel joining process development, and special processes engineering support for operations, while earning an M.S. in Technology from Purdue University. Prior to coming to Rolls-Royce, he graduated with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida and subsequently worked for Emerson Electric and Howmet.

Bill Donohue

President & Executive Director

Bill Donohue is the President and Executive Director of GENEDGE. He leads a regionally deployed network of Regional Growth Managers and Practice Managers committed to accelerating growth in technology and industrial clusters and businesses, thereby growing Virginia’s GDP while helping to retain and create quality jobs. His organizational leadership drives and supports GENEDGE’s mission to be Virginia’s best public resource to help manufacturing and industry innovate, compete, and grow.

Bill’s industrial career began in the engineered materials business unit at GE Plastics and Silicones where he managed a global investment and technology program resulting in annual revenues of $2.5 Billion. Just prior to joining GENEDGE, he successfully completed the general management level strategic start up, expansion and turnaround assignments for Fortune 500 companies primarily in the sealants, packaging, pressure sensitive adhesive, and electronic films businesses.

He is a chemical engineering graduate from the University of Rochester with later completion of the GE Management Development Program. In addition, he is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, and a member of various professional organizations both regionally and nationally.

Outside of GENEDGE, Bill cherishes time at home with his wife Pamela and their much loved golden doodle dogs – including visits from their adult children and grandchildren. When rare time allows, he might be found: golfing, gardening, collecting art, and cheering for Virginia Tech football.

Azim Eskandarian, D.Sc.

Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Jr. Dean of the VCU College of Engineering

Virginia Commonwealth University

Azim Eskandarian, D.Sc., is the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Jr. Dean of the VCU College of Engineering. Eskandarian previously served as department head and Nicholas and Rebecca des Champs Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.

Eskandarian, a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, serves as an expert in the Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation Division of the National Science Foundation. He is a senior member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers professional association and a member of SAE International (formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers), and is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Pi Tau Sigma engineering honor societies.

Eskandarian’s research focuses on robotics and autonomous and dynamical systems and is applied in areas including autonomous and intelligent vehicles, collision avoidance and driver assistance, intelligent transportation systems, and vehicle crashworthiness and occupant injury biomechanics.

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he was a professor of engineering and applied science at the George Washington University, where he was also director and founder of the Center for Intelligent Systems Research, director and co-founder of the National Crash Analysis Center, co-founder of the GWU Transportation Research Institute and director of the GWU and School of Engineering’s area of excellence in Transportation Safety and Security.

Eskandarian earned his B.S., M.S. and D.Sc. degrees in mechanical engineering from GWU, Virginia Tech and GWU, respectively.

Kenneth Fridley, Ph.D.

Dean of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology & Vice President for Research

Old Dominion University

Dr. Kenneth Fridley, who joined the Batten College of Engineering on July 1, comes to Old Dominion University after a long tenure at the University of Alabama (UA).

Fridley served as senior associate dean for administration at UA’s College of Engineering from 2014 to 2022 and as interim dean of the Honors College from 2019 to 2020. He also served as head of UA’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering from 2003 to 2014. During his tenure, the department experienced significant growth in enrollment – with undergraduate and graduate enrollment more than doubling and doctoral enrollment tripling.

Fridley brings significant experience developing and advancing philanthropic opportunities, economic development, externally funded research and other fundraising efforts. While at UA, he was involved in two capital campaigns, including the $1.5 billion initiative announced last year. At UA, he led efforts to establish a five-year BSCE/MSCE program, Bachelor of Science degrees in construction engineering, architectural engineering and environmental engineering and the cross-disciplinary MSCE/MBA and MSCE/JD dual-degree programs.

Fridley developed the Engineering Positive and Intentional Change (EPIC) Scholars honors program and led efforts to establish The CUBE, an interdisciplinary prototyping and 3D printing lab designed to promote student innovation in engineering. Much of Fridley’s research – including over $14.4 million in sponsored research – has directly impacted the civil engineering profession, resulting in changes in national design specifications, standards and codes. While at UA, he founded the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure and was part of a team that created the Integrative Center for Athletic and Sport Technology. He was elected a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2008 and received the ASCE Excellence in Civil Engineering Education (ExCEEd) Leadership Award in 2010.

Fridley previously taught at Purdue University (1990-1992), the University of Oklahoma (1992-1994), Washington State University (1994-2001) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2001-2003). At UNLV, Fridley served as associate dean of research and information technology for the Howard Hughes College of Engineering.

He earned his B.S. in civil engineering from Washington State University, his M.S. in architectural engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Auburn University.

Dawit Haile, Ph.D., Board Secretary

Dean, College of Engineering and Technology Interim Dean, College of Natural and Health Sciences

Virginia State University

Dr. Dawit Haile is a professor of Computer Science and Mathematics and currently serving as a Dean for the College of Engineering and Technology and Interim Dean for the College of Natural and Health Sciences at Virginia State University. He has more than 27 years of industry and academic experience including previous appointments at Xavier University and Southern Illinois University. As chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Virginia State University, he led the development of undergraduate and graduate programs in computer science and help to establish the department’s research capabilities in the areas of machine learning, data mining and cyber security. He received a VSU Bank of America Outstanding Faculty award in 2007 in recognition to his excellent contributions in the areas of teaching, research and service. His research and teaching interests includes combinatorics, graph theory, networks, and data mining. He has published journal/conference research articles, book chapters and has chaired a number of conferences. He has received more than $18M in state and federal grant awards.

Reappointed by the Governor of Virginia, Dr. Haile serves a third term as a member of the Commonwealth’s Manufacturing Development Commission. The commission assess manufacturing needs and formulate legislative and regulatory remedies to ensure the future of the manufacturing sector in Virginia. Dr. Haile has been a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, American Mathematical Society, Mathematical Association of America (MAA), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He had served as a member of a Committee of the MAA on Minority Participation in Mathematics. He serves on an advisory board for the Commonwealth Data Internship Program. He also serve on the Board of the Southeastern Universities Research Association Coastal and Environmental Research Committee.

Dr. Haile earned a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Southern Illinois University, a master’s degree in Computer Science from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a master’s degree in Mathematics from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He currently resides in Chester, Virginia with his wife and two children.

Kirk A. Gutmann

Senior vice president of Technology & Innovation

Siemens Digital Industries Software

Kirk A. Gutmann is senior vice president of Technology & Innovation for Siemens Digital Industries Software, a business unit of Siemens Digital Industries.

Gutmann and his team are responsible for software development processes and driving common next generation architectures.  Additionally, he has responsibility for development operations, security, and open-source management.  Prior to his current role, he was responsible for running the Industry group which drove the vertical go to market and tailored solutions for the requirements of individual industries.

Before joining Siemens PLM Software, Gutmann was chief strategy and technology officer at General Motors, where he was responsible for managing the IT strategy, application, technology, and investment portfolio globally across the various functional areas of the company. Also while at General Motors, Gutmann spent six years as the information officer for manufacturing and quality and six years as information officer for product development. During this time he developed extensive international experience leading a worldwide team responsible for establishing common processes and systems across global operations. He also received the GM Chairman’s Award in 2000, 2002 and 2007.

Kirk also spent 10 years at Navistar International Corp. in a number of manufacturing and truck engineering leadership roles. As Vice President – Truck Engineering, Gutmann was in-charge of product development, product studios, prototype and manufacturing plant support.  He started his career at Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio as a management consultant.

Gutmann received an engineering degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University in 1980. He later received a M.Sc. (1981) and MBA (1990), also from Purdue.  Kirk has been recognized in the CIO 100 Awards, Information Week Top 100, as well as the Information Week Top 20 and Industry Innovator awards.

When not working, Kirk enjoys golfing and boating.  He is actively involved with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in Vessel Examination and Search & Rescue.  He is currently based in Siemens Digital Industries Software office in Livonia, Michigan.

Benjamin Houck

Special Assistant to the VP of Finance and CFO

Gary Pickrell, Ph.D.

Professor in Materials Science and Engineering; Associate Director of the Center for Photonics Technology in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech

Gary Pickrell is a Professor in Materials Science and Engineering; Associate Director of the Center for Photonics Technology in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Virginia Tech; Rolls Royce Commonwealth Director and Technical Advisory Board voting member to CCAM.  He has been honored as a Fellow of SPIE, Senior member of IEEE, Faculty Fellow, Outstanding Assistant Professor, and with an R&D 100 award.  He has over 250 publications, including 20 books, 5 special Journal issues, and 20 patents issued.  He has chaired ~ 35 international conferences on sensors and advanced materials, served on the organizing committee for ~ 50 conferences and has been the PI on ~ $10 million in funded research and a PI or co-PI on $20 million while at Virginia Tech. Previous to academia, he held various industrial positions such as process engineer, R&D Scientist, Technical Director, and member of the Board of Directors for various organizations.  He has served on many technical advisory boards and review panels for both industry and government including NSF, DOE and twice on a Triennial Review Team of the Naval Research Lab facilities, personnel and research projects.

Jennifer L. West, Ph.D.

Dean of Engineering and Applied Science

University of Virginia

Jennifer West joined UVA as Dean of Engineering and Applied Science in July 2021.  Prior to this, she had been on the faculty at Duke since 2012, after having been the department chair and Cameron Professor of Bioengineering Rice University.  Professor West was one of the founding members of Rice’s Department of Bioengineering, building it to a top ten program over the prior sixteen years.  Dr. West became the Associate Dean for Doctoral Education in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke in 2014.  In 2019, the Duke Graduate School honored her with the Dean’s Graduate Mentoring Award.

Professor West’s research focuses on the development of novel biofunctional materials.  Part of her program has developed nanoparticle-based approaches to biophotonics therapeutics and diagnostics.  An example of this work is the application of near-infrared absorbing nanoparticles for photothermal tumor ablation.  In animal studies, this therapeutic strategy has demonstrated very high efficacy with minimal side effects or damage to surrounding normal tissues.  Professor West founded Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc. to commercialize the nanoparticle-assisted photothermal ablation technology, now called AuroLase.  Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc., located in Houston, TX, is the recipient of a NIST ATP Award and a grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.  Professor West is a director of the company.  The company has built manufacturing facilities, and AuroLase cancer therapy is now in human clinical trials.

Professor West has received numerous accolades for her work.  In 2017, she was elected to the National Academy of Inventors.  In 2016, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.  In 2015, she received the Society for Biomaterials Clemson Award.  In 2014, she was recognized by Thomson Reuters as a Highly Cited Researcher, the top 1% in the field of materials science.  In 2010 she was named Texas Inventor of the Year and also Admiral of the Texas Navy (highest honor the governor of Texas can bestow on a civilian).  In 2008, The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas honored her with the O’Donnell Prize in Engineering as the top engineer in the state.  In 2006, she was named one of 20 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professors, recognizing integration of world class research and teaching.  She has been listed by MIT Technology Review as one of the 100 most innovative young scientists and engineers worldwide.  Other recognitions include the Christopher Columbus Foundation Frank Annunzio Award for scientific innovation, Nanotechnology Now’s Best Discovery of 2003, Small Times Magazine’s Researchers of the Year in 2004, and the Society for Biomaterials Outstanding Young Investigator Award.

Professor West has authored more than 200 research articles.  She also holds 18 patents that have been licensed to eight different companies.  She has lectured at numerous institutions, including Harvard, Harvard Medical School, MIT, FDA, and NCI.  She was an invited speaker at the 2006 Nobel Symposium and invited back in 2014 for the 50th Anniversary Nobel Symposium.

Professor West has served as a member of the CSR Council and the Bioengineering, Technology, and Surgical Sciences study section at NIH, and has served on numerous other review boards for NIH and NSF.  She has also been a member of the Defense Sciences Study Group, a member of the NRC panel on management of university intellectual property, and a member of the AAMC panel on research.  She has served as Chair of the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and treasurer for the Biomedical Engineering Society.  Her laboratory has received funding from NIH, NSF, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and DOD.

Nezih Yaramanoglu, Ph.D.

Director Cross-Portfolio Technologies and Innovation

Siemens Industry Software Inc.

Dr. Nezih Yaramanoglu is the Director Cross-Portfolio Technologies and Innovation at Siemens Industry Software Inc. Nezih’s focus is Industry Processes and their influences on IT-Solution Architectures.

Nezih has 36 years of experience in IT Solution research and development for production processes. Prior to his current position he was responsible for providing development support in initiating and leading strategic Digital Manufacturing projects. Resulting from these activities he became a co-founder of the e-Factory organization of UGS in 2001. Nezih was the leader of the dCADE PBU of UGS Products organization, which was merged to Unigraphics Solutions GmbH in 1999. Before the merger he was the President & CEO of dCADE GmbH, which he co-founded in 1991. During his career path Nezih has initiated and lead various international research projects with consortia consisting of members from European automotive, shipbuilding and aerospace industries. Nezih’s academic background is Mechanical Engineering with a PhD in Production Engineering from Technical University of Berlin, Germany, where he also received his master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering.

Lisa Ziehmann

Acting Deputy Center Director

NASA Langley Research Center

Lisa Ziehmann is the Acting Deputy Center Director at NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia.

From October 2020 to September 2023, Ziehmann served as the Associate Director managing daily operations of Langley’s ~$1 billion research and development center. She was responsible for aligning Langley’s institutional resources and infrastructure to meet NASA mission needs, optimizing both effectiveness and efficiency. Prior to this role, Ziehmann was the deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Mission Support Directorate (MSD) where she partnered with the associate administrator to advise the NASA administrator and deputy administrator on all aspects of NASA’s institutional support encompassing an annual budget of over $3 billion.

Ziehmann was NASA’s deputy chief financial officer (CFO) for finance before joining MSD. In this role, she was responsible for senior executive oversight of the agency’s financial operations and reporting, policy development, financial audit, and internal controls. She served as the director for Financial Policy and Operations at the General Services Administration. Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Ziehmann held a variety of positions at Langley including the deputy CFO for financial management where she managed financial operations, audits, and financial analysis and reporting.

Ziehmann graduated from Christopher Newport College with a degree in accounting and is an active member of the Association of Government Accountants.

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