Print Friendly, PDF & Email
George Whitesides

George Whitesides
CEO, Virgin Galactic and TSC

George T. Whitesides is the CEO of Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s human spaceflight venture, and The Spaceship Company, a manufacturer of advanced space vehicles. With its innovative spacecraft, the company seeks to transform access to space to change the world for good.
Prior to Virgin Galactic, George served as Chief of Staff for NASA. Upon departure from the American space agency, he received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the agency confers.
George serves as co-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Space Technologies.  He is a member of Caltech’s Space Innovation Council and Princeton University’s Advisory Council for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He is a fellow of the UK Royal Aeronautical Society and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
He previously chaired the Reusable Launch Vehicle Working Group for the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, and served on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University and the board of Virgin Unite USA.
George has testified on American space policy before the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.
An honors graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, George later earned a master’s degree in geographic information systems and remote sensing from the University of Cambridge, and a Fulbright Scholarship to Tunisia. George is a licensed private pilot and certified parabolic flight coach.

Al Bunshaft

Al Bunshaft
Senior Vice President, Americas Global Affairs, Dassault Systèmes

Al Bunshaft is the Senior Vice President of Global Affairs, Americas, for Dassault Systèmes. He is responsible for new business development, academic sales and relationships, and coordination of the company’s involvement in institutes and consortia. He also serves as President of the Dassault Systèmes US Foundation, part of the global charitable organization La Fondation Dassault Systèmes.
Bunshaft previously was President and CEO of Dassault Systèmes Government Solutions and Managing Director of Americas, Dassault Systèmes. Prior to joining Dassault Systèmes in 2010, he had a 25-year career at IBM, holding various executive roles in R&D, strategic initiatives and general management.
Bunshaft’s expertise in 3D visualization, computer graphics and engineering-related software tools has been a special focus of his career. He is Dassault Systèmes’ leading voice for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States.
He received his bachelor of science degree in computer science and mathematics from the University at Albany, SUNY. He has a master of science degree in computer engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Landon V. Taylor, CEO

Landon Taylor
CEO, Base 11

Landon Taylor serves as chief executive officer of Base 11. He sets the organization’s strategic vision and leads the national expansion of Base 11’s STEM workforce and entrepreneur accelerator model by partnering with industry, academia and philanthropy to transform high-potential, low-resource students into the STEM talent most in demand by industry. He serves on several STEMconnector leadership committees including the STEM Innovation Task Force.
Prior to Base 11, Landon spent 25 years in senior leadership positions in industry which span launching start-ups to leading the development and deployment of nationally-implemented corporate strategies for FORTUNE 500® entities such as The First American Corporation and CoreLogic.
Landon strives to balance his affinity for capitalism with his commitment to human development and economic empowerment for underserved communities. As CEO of Base 11, he is dedicated to fulfilling his personal mission of building a sustainable middle class in America inclusive of all Americans.

Noramay Cadena

Noramay Cadena
Cofounder and Managing Director, Make in LA

Noramay Cadena is an engineer, entrepreneur, investor, and former nonprofit leader. She’s the Cofounder and Managing Director of Make in LA, an early stage hardware accelerator and venture fund in Los Angeles. Since launching in 2015, Make in LA has invested over $1MM in seed stage companies.
Prior to cofounding Make in LA, Cadena spent over 10 years in aerospace with The Boeing Company. Her roles included technical oversight, shop floor operations management, and program management with profit and loss accountability over major system deliverables.
In the community, Cadena is active civically and in the nonprofit sector. She cofounded the Latinas in STEM Foundation in 2013 to inspire and empower Latinas to pursue and thrive in STEM fields and led the organization through 2015. She also serves on the Housing Authority Commission of Los Angeles and is a founding board member for a proposed K-8 charter school in Los Angeles.
Cadena holds an MBA, a Master’s in Engineering Systems and a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering – all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She’s been a featured speaker in many platforms across the country including TEDx and the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship – her talks and recognitions cover technical achievement, leadership, and overcoming obstacles. She’s also received numerous awards and recognitions including being named one of the top 26 women engineers to watch in 2016 by Business Insider, one of the top 20 Latinos in Tech by CNET in 2014 and receiving national awards by the Society of Women Engineers and Great Minds in STEM.

Dennis Harkins

Dennis Harkins
President, Orange Coast College

Dennis Harkins, Ph.D., is the President of Orange Coast College (OCC) in Costa Mesa, California. The College has an enrollment of over 25,000 students and offers more than 150 academic program. OCC is a culturally rich institution qualifying as both an Asian and Hispanic Serving Institution with international students from more than 60 countries.
Under Harkins’ leadership, OCC has established a meaningful partnership with Base 11 in the past few years in an effort to prepare students for careers in some of the fastest growing technology sectors in the economy.
He has served on the American Association of Community Colleges’ Commission for Global Education and the American Council on Education’s Commission on Internationalization and Global Engagement. Dr. Harkins has lectured at events of the American Council on Education, Beijing Film Academy, Profession Photographers of Association of China, and the British Council. He is a former Board Member of the Tupac Shukur Foundation and holds honorary professorship in Nanjing and Shongong.
He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts/Photography and Master’s in International Affairs/African Studies from Ohio University, and a Ph.D. in Education/Human Resources Development with a cognate in Management from Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policies Studies.

Maria Tirabassi

Maria Tirabassi
Engineering Vice President,
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Space Park Design Center of Excellence

Maria A. Tirabassi is Vice President of Engineering for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (AS) Space Park Design Center of Excellence, a premier provider of manned and unmanned aircraft, space systems and advanced technologies critical to our nation’s security. In this role, Tirabassi leads engineering efforts within the Space Systems portfolio, including James Webb Space Telescope and Advanced EHF. She has 30 years of technical, program and functional management experience in the defense and aerospace industries at Northrop Grumman and, prior to that, TRW and Hughes Aircraft.
Previously, Tirabassi served as director in Aerospace Systems’ Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Sensing and Science organization, leading capture management efforts. Other prior postitions include Airborne Communications director and program manager for the B-2 Extremely High Frequency (EHF) Increment 2 program. As B-2 EHF program manager, Tirabassi was responsible for all aspects of technical development and cost performance to develop and integrate a high priority EHF communications system for the B-2 platform. She was also responsible for developing a portfolio of communication solutions to support future airborne communications in the area of protected command and control.
She has also served as director of Payload Products in Space and Defense, where her group was responsible for developing product line strategies and cost reduction opportunities across a portfolio of products, including antennas, radar frequency, sensors, lasers and digitally processed payloads. She has served on various programs, including the Advanced EHF Payload program where she served as the Integrated Product Team manager for the Crosslink Subsystem.
In addition, Tirabassi has worked in the commercial industry and has held positions outside the company in marketing and business development for venture start-up firms in the area of communications technologies.
Tirabassi earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California.

John Tomblin

John Tomblin, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer at Wichita State University
Executive Director of the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR)

John Tomblin is the vice president for research and technology transfer at Wichita State University (WSU). He is also executive director of the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) and a Sam Bloomfield Distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering.

As vice president for research and technology transfer, Tomblin oversees university research centers, institutes, sponsored programs and the development of the university’s Innovation Campus, which employs an applied learning model to connect faculty, staff, students and industry.

Tomblin received his Ph.D., master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University.

Jeremy Bout

Jeremy Bout
Producer & Host, The Edge Factor

Since the beginning of mankind and paintings on cave walls, stories have connected generations and united communities. Critically acclaimed storyteller,​ filmmaker, and keynote speaker Jeremy Bout leads the team at Edge Factor, as they create media and resources to inspire the next generation of makers and make learning and careers come alive in classrooms, homes and at events. We invite you to watch Edge Factor films for free at

Arnold Durell Deffo Nde

Arnold Durel Deffo Nde
Ph.D. student, Caltech

Arnold is a 4th year aeronautics graduate student with research interest in dislocation dynamics, and has been a Caltech/Base 11 mentor since 2014. He has mentored three cohorts of students with some having transferred to UCI and UCLA. Upon completion of his Ph.D., he hopes to join the aerospace industry to help design next generation aircraft.

David Hyunh

David Huynh
Ph.D. student, Caltech

David is a 4th year aeronautics graduate student studying turbulent boundary layers and their interaction with deformable surfaces, and has been a Caltech/Base 11 mentor since 2014. He has served as summer mentor to two students, one of whom is transferring to UCB. After graduating, he hopes to pursue a position of leadership in Aerospace, with an emphasis in education.

Jason Hatakeyama

Jason Hatakeyama
Chief Architect and Senior Director of the Product Lifecycle Management Capability, Boeing Defense, Space & Security

Jason Hatakeyama is the Chief Architect and Senior Director of the Product Lifecycle Management Capability for Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS). In this role, he is responsible for creating the next generation of engineering tools and systems across the Boeing enterprise.
Previously, Hatakeyama led BDS Design and Manufacturing Engineering where he was the functional director of 6,000 engineers supporting all defense and space programs.
In his career, Jason led research and development of experimental hypersonic and space access programs and provided support to the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, and X-37.
Hatakeyama has a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri and is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He actively supports K-12 STEM programs and is a FIRST Robotics mentor and judge.