Sherry Acanfora-Ruohomaki is the President and Owner of two companies: K9 Kampus, a luxury Dog Daycare & Boarding Facility in Melbourne, Florida, that expands traditional pet daycare, boarding, and grooming services to encompass agility and training in a spotless, safe, and secure environment; and Facets Consulting Group, which provides expertise in technology start-ups, lean manufacturing principles, business development, and organizational health.
Sherry earned B.S. degrees in both Computer and Electrical Engineering, as well as an M.S. in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Florida Tech. She also received an Executive MBA from the University of Central Florida. Sherry was the Director of Operations for Florida TechStart on the campus of Florida Tech, a technology accelerator funded by a 2-year grant from the National Science Foundation in collaboration with UCF’s highly successful Technology Incubator. Sherry co-founded XL TechGroup, which focuses on technology innovation & company creation.
Ameen Sarkees has over 30 years of experience in the test and operations discipline. His background includes activation and operations of pneumatic & propellant cryogenic systems for the Space Shuttle External Tank ground & vehicle support systems, Lockheed Martin’s X-33, Atlas V, and Orion Programs. Ameen is presently supporting Lockheed Martin’s Fleet Ballistic Missile Program for the US Navy as a Staff Mechanical Test Engineer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Ameen received his Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Sciences from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1989. Ameen has worked with Lockheed Martin Space Division for 39 years and Planning Research Corporation for 3 years prior to Lockheed Martin. Ameen serves on Florida Tech’s Alumni Association Board as a Director and keeps close ties with the University.
Dr. Warren Pittorie is a three-time graduate of the College of Aeronautics at Florida Tech, earning his B.S. in 2015, M.S. in 2018, and Ph.D. in 2022. During his time in college, Warren was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, the Student Government Association, and Residence Life. Warren became a faculty member of the COA back in 2019 and is the current Flight Education Chair. Warren also trained at FIT Aviation, where he earned his commercial pilot certificate and multiple flight instructor ratings. He still works at FIT Aviation as a part-time instructor and teaches tailwheel and aerobatics courses. Warren joined the FTAA’s Board of Directors in 2020 and remains a proud alumnus!
Fin Bonset is a ’96 and ’99 Florida Tech Graduate with both his degrees in the field of airport management and development. He is also an adjunct professor for the College of Aeronautics and also obtained his commercial instrument pilot licenses at FIT Aviation. He is currently the Director of Aviation Services for VHB where he oversees the company’s national aviation practice specializing in airport planning, design, environmental, and sustainability/resiliency services. He also serves as the Chairman of the Aruba Airport Authority Board of Supervisory Directors and the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society, the latter promoting scholarships for high school and college students interested in commercial aviation.
Kim develops computing systems that aggregate sensor data for various IoT (Internet of Things) applications, focused on retail industries. With more than 20 years at Intel, Kim has led several silicon development efforts for use in the embedded and communications industry. Prior to Intel, he spent 9 years with Honeywell in Clearwater, Fla. where he did reliability and systems engineering for Intertial Navigation Systems that flew on Atlas and Titan rockets. Kim currently serves on the Florida Tech Alumni Association as the vice president and resides in Chandler, Arizona. He graduated from Florida Tech in 1987 with a degree in electrical engineering, and is a member of Tau Beta Pi.
Jim Carleton is retired from the aerospace industry at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) after 40 years of service. He supported all 135 Space Shuttle launches as well as several other missile launches. Jim worked at United Space Alliance (USA), a prime contractor for the Space Shuttle Program, most recently as the Solid Rocket Booster Program Manager. Jim served in several roles in the USA, including Director of Space Shuttle Upgrades and Director of Manufacturing Operations. Prior to the USA, he was an Engineering Manager and Program Manager for United Technologies Corporation, USBI. Jim is a Certified Manager with the Institute of Certified Professional Managers and a graduate of the Florida Institute of Technology Certified Manager curriculum. Jim retired from the United States Marine Corps and is a Vietnam Veteran, receiving several decorations including the Purple Heart. After retiring from KSC, Mr. Carleton started a successful business, Chematics of the South. As the CEO of this Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, he won and completed contracts at KSC, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Patrick Space Force Base, and Port Canaveral. Jim is currently enjoying a slower pace as the CEO of Old Dead Eye Golf, selling golf products and playing the grand old game. Jim is a life member of the Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Brevard Veterans Council. He is the past Chairman of the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery Support Committee. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Marian Dionne has over 30 years of software design, development, and programming experience, working for Harris Controls, E-Systems Inc., and Florida Power Corporation before starting Apogee Engineering Associates, asoftware consulting firm in 1985. Her firm specialized in implementing a patented data visualization technique called Graphical InterfaceFor Intensive Care (GIFIC)used at Holmes Regional Medical Center. GIFICwas also featured in several medical journals and on a CNN Science and Technology segment hosted by former astronaut Jim Lovell.
Marian earned both herMaster of Science in Computer Science andBachelor of Science in Management Science from FloridaTech. Marian currently teaches computer science classes at Eastern Florida State College.
Kevin Ellis is the General Manager of Nuclear Regulatory Affairs, Policy, and Emergency Preparedness in the Charlotte Corporate Office. In this role, Kevin is responsible for developing and executing regulatory strategy for Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet. He is responsible for licensing and compliance associated with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulated activities, North and South Carolina utility commission rate case activities for nuclear, and oversight of the emergency preparedness program to ensure it is effective in its role of maintaining the health and safety of the public.
Kevin has more than 20 years of experience in the nuclear energy industry. Kevin joined Duke Energy in 2016 as Manager of Regulatory Affairs in the Corporate Office. Kevin transitioned to Robinson Nuclear Plant, where he was selected as Regulatory Affairs Manager in 2017, Nuclear Support Services Manager in 2018, and Director of Plant Support Engineering in 2019.
Kevin began his nuclear career working for Norfolk Naval Shipyard, refueling submarines for the nuclear navy. Afterwards, Kevin joined the NRC, where he was a Resident and Senior Resident Inspector in Region II.
Kevin, a native of Wilson, NY, earned his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology. He also received a senior reactor operator certification from Oconee Nuclear Station.
Chris Fernando is an experienced leader, mobility researcher, and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the aviation industry. His primary background is in aviation and airport operations with a focus on emerging aviation technologies, policy development, and airport and environmental planning. He is a recognized subject matter expert in these fields and his expertise in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), urban air mobility (UAM), and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has resulted in multiple engagements with Federal clients and multiple airports in the U.S. to support integration efforts. He has an extensive network and strategic partnerships with the industry and has leveraged these relationships to plan and host successful workshops, stakeholder engagement roundtables, and conferences related to the future of aviation.
He is currently a Principal at Hovecon in Raleigh, NC, an advisor to the mobility group at Ernst and Young, an AAM consultant to the FAA and NASA, and an adjunct professor at Florida Institute of Technology where he teaches graduate courses on the UAM Ecosystem and Infrastructure Planning for AAM. He is a board member of the Florida Tech Alumni Association, a member of the College of Aero Advisory Council, an advisory board member of the Jet Perfect Foundation, and a founding member and advisor to the Coalition of Advanced Health Mobility. He is also the co-host of the No U-Turn Podcast, which is a podcast focused on the future of transportation, emerging technologies, and the workforce of the future. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Al serves as an engineering liaison to the global community including – solutions\sales consultants, global delivery teams, product management, program management, and product marketing for Hitachi Network Attached Storage. Al’s background includes Storage Attached Networking (SAN) and Network Attach Storage (NAS) file applications protocol implementations along with technical training and education. And in a former life was a rocket scientist at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and worked on satellite instrument integration and testing.
Al serves on several Home Owner Association boards and enjoys rounds of disc golf. His interests include skiing, road cycling, gym workouts, the occasional surf session, the annual Brevard Public Schools Science Fair judging, and of course, many events that take place at Florida Tech.
Jim Halley was an Artillery Officer in the United States Marine Corps prior to becoming involved with aviation. As an artillery officer, he gained immeasurable experience in operations and safety management and team leadership but also found that in the civilian workforce, there were not many opportunities for artillery officers. He was passionate about aviation and earned two degrees: a B.S. in Aviation Management from Florida Institute of Technology and an MBA in Aviation from Embry-Riddle. After working in the consulting world for a couple of years, he worked in airport operations at Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport and then Palm Beach International Airport. He then joined the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) in September 2014, as the Aviation System Manager and then became the Statewide Planning Coordinator in 2019 where he led efforts related to the Florida Transportation Plan and gained experience working with the Transportation Research Board, grants, and compliance. Jim then joined the Aviation Division as Director of Planning and Programming in May 2020.
Ramone Hemphill, Sr. earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2006. He then went on to receive his MBA in project management from Florida Tech in 2022.
Since then, he has worked as a systems engineer in avionics, a career that in the winter of 2019 brought him and his family to the Space Coast, where he now works for Collins Aerospace.
In December 2020, Ramone and his wife launched the 99th Squadron, a nonprofit organization seeking to expose young people, particularly minorities, to the vast opportunities in the aviation industry and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields beyond.
Dr. Rhodie Humbert is an Adjunct Professor at Florida Tech’s School of Business teaching Production Management and Operations in addition to supporting the school’s innovative incubator for developing student business ideas. He received his MBA from Florida Tech in 1982. His previous experience includes stints as Senior Proposal Manager at IAP Worldwide Services, Inc. with full responsibility and authority for preparing large and complex Government proposals. Before IAP, he had extensive Defense industry experience as a Senior Program Manager for more than 25 years with Harris Corporation.
Dr. Humbert’s successes include designing, developing, delivering, and installing satellite communications equipment. He also has extensive experience leading Government and Commercial high volume manufacturing systems. He is particularly effective in lean initiatives and has managed functional teams and factory resources to manufacture and deliver products that exceed both customer specifications and schedule expectations in addition to achieving corporate financial objectives.
He is active in community affairs and serves as Chairman of the City of Melbourne’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee, is a Florida Tech Alumni Association Board Member, and volunteers with Vitas Hospice and the Maxwell King Center.
Manish Jindal works for Accenture LLP as a Cloud Sales Director. He is responsible for market development in the Midwest region for Accenture. Jindal comes with 21+ years of sales and leadership experience in a wide range of industries including but not limited to Retail & CPG, Travel, Transportation and logistics, Banking and Finance Services, Insurance, High-Tech and Manufacturing, Healthcare & Life Sciences, and the Public Sector.
Prior to joining Accenture, Jindal was the Regional Partner Development Lead for Amazon Web Services and was responsible for developing AWS business with Global System Integrators (GSI) in the US Central and Canadian regions. Before AWS, Jindal was the Dallas Region Head for Retail, CPG, Travel, and Transportation (RCTL) verticals for Tech Mahindra (TechM). At TechM, he was responsible for growing his strategic accounts to make the place in the CEO’s Top Account 25 list. Jindal brings a diverse background in multiple industries, technologies, and roles played throughout his career. In his current & previous roles, Jindal is responsible for managing customer relationships to bring 10x growth and win new customer logos. He comes in handy with a strong technical solution mindset, program execution, and onshoring/ offshoring delivery models. Jindal has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Florida Tech and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. During his academic, Jindal did extensive research work with NASA Glenn Research Lab & Florida Hydrogen Research Center and published several technical papers. He likes to help students prepare for transitioning from student to working professionals by mentoring and coaching them. Jindal currently lives near Dallas (Texas) with his wife (Mahima) and two boys (Manav and Arnev).
Christopher Marot graduated from Florida Tech with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Applied Mathematics and Computer Engineering. At Florida Tech, he was ingrained with the value of teamwork while he rowed crew and won numerous state, regional, and national titles with his team.
After successfully founding, building, and running two previous engineering services companies, he founded HEKA in 2017 to focus on full-scale product development services. These services include software, electrical and mechanical engineering and their integration into Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), Proof of Concepts (POCs), or full-scale production.
Javier Molinares came to the United States in 1991. His first job was as a cargo handler. He then drove trucks for 4 years before joining the US Army as a paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division. During his time in the 82nd Airborne, he completed his Associate in Arts, moved back to Palm Bay, and enrolled in the communication program of the Florida Institute of Technology. In 2003, he graduated Magna Cum Laude and recorded his own music CD, Vallecumbia. He later wrote for Florida Today’s business section and ultimately started the bilingual newspaper Al Día Today eight years ago.
Corporate VP of Operations at Food Sales East where he supports the leadership team and the organization in areas of financial management, re-enforcing corporate culture based on integrity and teamwork, and driving operational efforts aimed at maximizing selling time to drive client revenue growth.
Bryan earned his BS in Ocean Engineering from Florida Tech in 1985. After graduation, Bryan served in the US Navy as a Nuclear Propulsion Submarine Officer and then transitioned his career to financial services. He is currently an executive at Bayview Asset Management.
Allyn has over 40 years of experience in the Supply Chain function. His career has included a materials planner, material analyst, buyer, subcontracts manager, corporate contracts manager, and program manager. The majority of his career was with Harris Government Systems (now L3Harris) in Melbourne and Palm Bay working on DOD contracts across multiple programs. He now works with Leonardo DRS, Network & Imaging Systems, LLC, as a Sr. Subcontract Manager in their Land Electronics business unit where they design and manufacture ruggedized communications hardware for DOD customers.
Dr. Nicholas Schwartz is a licensed professional chemical engineer with research and development experience in energy and sustainability. After achieving a B.S. at UW-Madison, he graduated with a M.S. from FIT in 2014, and later a Ph.D. from UF. Dr. Schwartz is a principal engineer with M2X Energy, a climate-driven company targeting the commercial conversion of flare gas to methanol with a transportable chemical system.
Veronica Sherard is an experienced business development director with a demonstrated history of working in the defense & space industry. She is currently the Director of Business Development for the Intel & Cyber Sector in the Space and Airborne Systems Segment of L3Harris Corporation. She received an MBA focused on Business and Human Resource Mgmt from Florida Institute of Technology in 1993.
Frank Tricomi is the Chief Operating Officer for Conley and Associates, Inc., and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a multi-divisional product support company with business units and offices located throughout the U.S. and the Middle East. Prior to coming to Conley, he created, launched, and was President of ESSIbuy.com, Inc., a subsidiary of a publically held corporation, Engineered Support Systems, Inc. (ESSI).
Before starting ESSIbuy, he was the Director of Program Management at Engineered Air Systems, another ESSI subsidiary.
Immediately after retirement from the military, he held the position of Executive Director of the Wisconsin Procurement Institute, a non-profit corporation that assisted Wisconsin companies to capture government business.
Prior to an extensive career in industry, his military service extended more than 27 years. After receiving a commission in the U.S. Army, he served in Vietnam as an infantry platoon leader and subsequently commanded troops at the company and Battalion levels, culminating in selection as commander of the Army’s only Watercraft Battalion. Prior to retirement from the U.S. Army, he held a number of executive positions, including Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Procurement), the Commander of the Defense Contract Management Area Operations, headquartered in St. Louis, and Director of the Procurement Center and Contracting at the Army’s Aviation and Troop Command.
He was a member of and served as the President of the Board of Directors for the St. Louis Lighthouse for the Blind Industries and was the Executive Director of the St. Louis Federal Executive Board Small Disadvantage Business Opportunity Council. He was an Adjunct Professor in the Lindenwood University School of Business MBA Program and advised in St. Louis University’s Entrepreneurship Program. He received a BA in Political Science from John Carroll University, an MS in Logistics Management from the Florida Institute of Technology, and an MA in National Security Planning and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. He also participated in the Harvard University Negotiation Project and is a graduate of Defense Acquisition University’s Program Management School. He was selected as a Distinguished Member of the Transportation Corps, was awarded the St. Louis Federal Executive Board Leadership Award, and was chosen as a 1994 Federal Executive of the Year.