Research Staff

Matt Stremler

Director of Research

Matt Stremler spent many years at CCAM as a Research Manager; leading research in Automation. Now he holds the title, Director of Research where he is meeting the needs of CCAM’s advanced manufacturing members. Mr. Stremler is an experienced research manager for manufacturing processes across many technical areas, including automation, coatings application and surface preparation, computer vision & measurement development, process improvement, etc.

He has extensive technical experience in design, specification, repair, quality inspection, and production process improvement for polymeric coatings.  He is a subject matter expert in aqueous corrosion control for marine and power/propulsion applications.  Mr. Stremler is an experienced team leader for quality & process engineering, research & development, and process improvement

During his 16 years at Newport News Shipbuilding as a Mechanical and Materials Process Engineer, he became a Team Lead for company-wide Coatings Global Processes improvement initiatives.

He holds a M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from the University of Virginia; and a Mechanical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Stephen Austin, Ph.D.

Research Manager, Machining

For the last five years, Steve was the Director of Engineering at Applied Motion Systems in Vancouver, Washington. Prior to that he held Director and Manager roles at companies like Bucher Emhart Glass and Gerber Technology. He also taught mechanical engineering at University of Hartford and Washington State University. Steve received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Connecticut; MBA from University of Connecticut; MS in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Hartford.

Ben Zimmerman

Research Manager, Surface Engineering & Additive Manufacturing

Expert in electron beam physical vapor deposition of thermal barrier coatings and has extensive capability with other coatings techniques, such as plasma spray and cathodic arc

Started career at Pratt & Whitney as a Materials Process Engineer and became the Ceramics Coating

Subject Matter Expert; later transitioned to a Technology Development Leader position with responsibility for developing a metal additive manufacturing technology for turbine engines

M.B.A. Indiana University; M.S. Materials Science, Iowa State University; B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, Iowa State University

Richard P. Martukanitz, Ph.D.

Additive Manufacturing CCAM Fellow

University of Virginia

Dr. Martukanitz supports and guides the development of CCAM’s additive manufacturing program to ensure it meets its research objectives and goals of its members.

Former Director for the Center for Innovative Materials processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D) and Head of the Laser Processing Division, Applied Research Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University

PhD Materials Science and Engineering, Pennsylvania State University; MS Metallurgical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh; BS Metallurgy, Pennsylvania State University

Afroditi V. Filippas, Ph.D.

Data Analytics CCAM Fellow

Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Afroditi (“Vennie”) Filippas earned her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Patras Greece, her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Accelerating Systems and Applications in Athens, Greece before she became a Research Engineer for Ansoft Corporation. Recenlty Dr. Filippas has served as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and as a Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

“I believe that universities can bring a fundamental science perspective to CCAM R&D activities in such a way as to enhance the ability of industry to investigate novel ideas while maintaining its core focus on applied research. I hope to serve as a conduit for the Virginia Data Analytics university and CCAM community to develop an environment where students, university and industry researchers work together to advance the vision of environmentally and fiscally responsible quality manufacturing practices.”

Huda Al-Ghaib, Ph.D.

Senior Research Engineer

Previously an Assistant Professor at Utah Valley University where she taught Computer Engineering and Computer Science and developed algorithms and computer software for cancer detection

Research focus was in the development of a high frequency (HF) ultrasonic technology for detecting carcinoma on excised tissue for breast, lymph nodes, and skin specimens in conjunction with the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah

Ph.D. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Alabama in Huntsville; BS in Computer Engineering from University of Technology

Richard Blanchette

Systems Engineer – Intelligent Factory

Richard supports ongoing research & development projects from a systems-of-systems design perspective at CCAM. He is a charged with the development of system architectures, communication interfaces, query & API services, stand-alone applications, and data management systems. He develops standards and common practices for implementing an intelligent factory as a systems engineer at CCAM.

Richard was previously with Hartfiel Automation as a Motion Application Engineer and Controls Specialist. Prior to that he had roles at Robinson Engineering and Cross Company Motion Solutions Division as an Electro-Mechanical Motion Application Engineer.

He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Mechanical Systems/Design from Old Dominion University. Richard’s hobbies include projects with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing, Home Server Builds, woodworking and hunting. He is married and is expecting his first child imminently. You can learn more about his projects and programming experience at

Keith Bourne, Ph.D.

Senior Research Engineer

Current focus on selection and implementation of industrial automation systems and programming industrial robot arm-based automation cells

Two years working for Foxconn Electronics, performing mechanical design of electrical connectors and fixturing for their assembly

Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois; B.S. Mechanical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

Johnny Capps


Performs tooling installation, designing and building fixtures, advising on production issues and implementing of Lean Manufacturing concepts to reduce set-up and machining time

25 years machining experiences a tool and die maker in the power generation and metal goods industries

Journeyman Tool and Die Maker

Kevin Childrey

Thermal Spray Coating Process Specialist

Joins Surface Engineering team as Thermal Spray Coating Process Specialist

Previously with Dominion Energy as Control Room Operator Trainee at Surry Nuclear Power Station and Operator at Chesterfield Power Station

At Alstom Power, completed four-year journeyman winder program

Andwele Grant

Senior Research Engineer, Machining Science & Technology

Research focus on data analytics for manufacturing inspection and friction stir welding

M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Virginia State University

Derek Haas, Ph.D.

Principal Research Engineer, Materials Processing

Derek Haas, Ph.D was previously Vice President of an R&D Company and Co-Founder of Directed Vapor Technologies International. He is an experienced program manager and successful technical proposal writer for government funded programs. In his career he has applied newly developed processes for the creation of protective coatings for complex components,  advanced alloys, and functional coatings onto continuous filament synthetic yarns. Derek has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Virginia and B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Tech.

He joins the CCAM coatings team as Principal Research Engineer, Materials Processing.

Eric Holterman

Manufacturing Systems Researcher

Over 25 years of experience implementing and managing controls and automation systems in industrial environments using a wide variety of PLCs, embedded systems, distributed systems, networks, and software platforms

Expert on the transfer and management of digital information in the manufacturing, building automation, and data center environments.

B.S. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Virginia Tech

Jonathan Laurer, Ph.D.

Senior Research Engineer, Surface Engineering

Jonathan Laurer, PhD is joining us as a Surface Engineering Research Engineer. He was previously with TT Electronics where he created coating formulations for resistor product lines and developed custom materials for scientific, aviation and military applications. Prior to this he was with Lexmark International, where he was the key scientist for inkjet corrosion-protection materials design and accelerated life testing.

He received his PhD and MS in Materials Science and Engineering from North Carolina State University and his BS in Physics from NC State.

Gib Leadbetter

Senior Software Research Engineer

Gib is a software developer and electrical engineer with substantial experience in programming and engineering. Throughout his career at Capital One, NetTalon, Qimonda, DATALINE, CSC, CISCO Systems and GE Fanuc, he has utilized a myriad of programming languages including, but not limited to C, C++, C#, JAVA and others. He has developed software for manufacturing reporting through the Apache Web server, designed middleware communications for Navy destroyers, and implemented software strategies for semiconductor manufacturing. While self-employed, he designed software protocols and redesigned hardware for secure faxing for a small embedded device that is still marketed today

Kevin Ostlund

Digital Systems Research Engineer

Joined CCAM as Digital Systems Research Engineer in 2019. Prior to that he was a Project Engineer for Caterpillar. He’s also worked at Cisco, Honeywell, Doable Engineering Co., and Diversified Technologies Inc. Kevin graduated from University of Massachusetts with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.

Yuri Plotnikov, Ph.D.

Senior Research Engineer, Adaptive Automation

17 years at GE Global Research Center; designed automatic inspections systems using eddy current arrays; designed image processing for crack detection with infrared thermography using inductive heating; researched numerical modeling, theoretical and experimental research of magnetic resonance imaging, transient eddy current techniques, advanced sensors, sensor array technologies, and image processing

Ph.D. in Technical Sciences, Moscow Power Engineering Institute; Joint B.S./M.S. Electrical Engineering, Moscow Power Engineering Institute

John Sions

Material Process Research Engineer

Brings expertise in materials characterization to aid in the development of innovative materials and manufacturing processes

Leads the Materials Preparation and Characterization Labs, performing metallographic preparation, microstructural analysis and mechanical property testing of materials

M.S. Materials Science, Carnegie Mellon; B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, Virginia Tech

Kyle Snyder

Associate Engineer, Additive Manufacturing

Designed factorial experiments to investigate pore formation in electron beam additive manufacturing of titanium

M.S. & B.S., Materials Science and Engineering, Penn State University

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