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WiSE 2018 Speakers

WiSE speaker mosaic of pics

2018 WiSE Opening Speaker - Katie Gonzalez

Katie Gonzalez is a Propulsion Analyst for the Boeing Company working on the Space Launch System (SLS) program, the next rocket to lead us to Mars and beyond. She joined the Boeing Company as an intern on the Space Shuttle Program in 2007 and continued working on the Shuttle Program through the end of the program. In her role as a propulsion analyst, she is part of the team designing the Main Propulsion System (MPS) hardware and operations for the SLS rocket.

Katie graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and concentration in Aerospace Engineering in 2008. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she went on to complete an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Houston in 2010.

Katie, a native Texan, is passionate about encouraging young students to continue their education. She mentors interns and new employees as well as participating throughout the year in NASA outreach webcasts to promote STEM.


2018 WiSE Keynote Speaker - Ginny Catania

Dr. Ginny Catania holds a joint-appointment as a Research Scientist at the Institute for Geophysics and as an Associate Professor at the Department of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Catania is a geophysicist who is passionate about uncovering how fast - and why-  the ice sheets are rapidly changing and what potential impacts might be, even to folks in Texas. Dr. Catania has led dozens of expeditions to Antarctica and Greenland where she and her team would camp for months collecting data. Dr. Catania received her Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Washington in 2004, and she has been part of UT since 2005. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed publications in glaciology and continues to pursue new directions in her field to meet the challenges presented by climate change in the polar regions. 

Dr. Catania hails from Canada and sometimes wonders how she ended up in a state with no glaciers at all. She is an only parent to six-year old twins, one with special needs, and has become skilled at time management and multitasking. Dr. Catania is an enthusiastic advocate for work-life balance, increasing the diversity of voices in STEM fields, and climate change policy.


2018 Boeing in the Spotlight Speaker - Michelle Barber

Michelle Barber supports the Space Launch System Chief Engineer’s Office as the technical lead for electrical design and integration. Located in Huntsville, AL, she also supports design integration for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Program. Barber is a Boeing Designated Expert in the Wire Design, Installation and Integration Community.

She has held a variety of positions at Boeing since joining the company in 2007 - work that ranged from assignments in missile defense and commercial airplanes operations, as well as space programs. The work has taken her around the country, from New Orleans to Fort Greely, Alaska and provided a broad range of engineering experiences.

Barber holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from UA.

She enjoys flying as a private pilot, long-distance running, and attending UA football games.


2018 Boeing in the Spotlight Speaker - Helen Biller

Helen Biller currently works for Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), as the Engineering Manager for the Propulsion Technology Team.

She has previously held management positions in BCA Propulsion on the 737 MAX and 777X Development Programs and for the Propulsion Safety and Airworthiness team. Prior to that, Helen supported the 777 propulsion system in revenue service, working with airlines around the world, from 2001 to 2012. Before joining The Boeing Company, Helen worked for 19 years at Rolls-Royce, plc, in a number of engineering roles, designing, testing and supporting aero-engines for commercial and military aircraft. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Design from Loughborough University of Technology, in the UK in 1983 and has been a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the European Engineering Council since 1990. Outside of work she has raised 3 children, competed in and coached National level Track and Field, mountaineered around the world and currently has a small horse facility at her home near Seattle, WA


2018 Boeing in the Spotlight Speaker - Sheila Sharp

Sheila Sharp is a Boeing Chief Engineer in the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program.

For over 21 years, Sheila has served Boeing and its customers. Her current position is the Chief Engineer for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program. In this role, she responsibility for all technical aspects of the system development and fielded system. In her prior position, Sheila served as the Director of Mission Assurance for all programs within Boeing Defense, Space and Security (BDS) portfolio. Sharp was responsible for sustained mission success through pro-active improvement on program execution, capitalizing on early technical risk identification and mitigation. Engineering content of this role included military and tactical aircraft safety, environmental engineering, and system safety for these programs.

Prior to this role, Sharp served as the senior leader for Boeing Space Launch System (SLS) Systems Engineering, Integration and Test (SEIT) team, responsible for the requirements, design, verification and design certification of the SLS Core and Exploration Upper Stages. Boeing is responsible for the design, development, test, production and integration of the cryogenic stages and avionics for NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket.

Since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from The University of Alabama in 1996, Sharp acquired broad technical expertise through product development, proposal development and management experience including engineering, program management, system integration, product design, test, analysis, manufacturing and operations.

She began her career in 1991 as a trainee in manufacturing and process engineering with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Her first job with Boeing in Huntsville started in 1996 as an engineering leader on the International Space Station project where she was recognized as an expert in fluid system design, assembly and installation.

Sharp became a satellite systems engineering leader with Boeing in 2001, leading work on Spacecraft Propulsion System Installation and Composite Structures. In 2005, Sharp became the systems engineering manager for Missile Defense Systems, responsible for analyzing defense program systems.

In 2009 she began working on heavy-lift rockets, and eventually managed Core Stage Design and Integration IPT for the SLS predecessor rocket, guiding physical design and integration of core stage.

She currently serves the University of Alabama as a member of the Capstone Engineering Society Board of Directors and the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Advisory Board, as well as Alumni Association Board member. Sheila also serves as the Boeing Executive focal to The University of Alabama in Huntsville and the engineering college focal on behalf of Boeing to the University of Alabama.


2018 Boeing in the Spotlight Speaker - Diana Talley

Dr. Diana Talley is a Project Integration Manager with Boeing’s 737 Airplane Integration Office since 2014. In this role, she manages multidisciplinary teams driving high profile airplane level projects for the 737NG and 737MAX Program.

Previously, she was a Project Engineer with Boeing Commercial’s Product Development Technology Integration Organization and was the Principal Investigator for the Advanced Adaptive Wing in 2014 and Adaptive Trailing Edge in 2013. For her work during 2013-2014, she received the AIAA Pacific Northwest Section’s Young Engineer of the Year Award. Dr. Talley started with Boeing as a conceptual aircraft designer for Boeing Research and Technology in 2008. In this role, she supported multiple DARPA proposals/projects as well as Boeing Commercial and Military Product Development programs. In 2011, she was a lead on a proprietary project that received a Phantom Works Special Innovation Award.

Dr. Talley received her PhD in 2008 from Georgia Tech where she focused on aircraft conceptual design, system-of-systems design, and uncertainty modeling. During this program she also received a Management of Technology Certificate from Georgia Tech’s MBA program. She received a BS in Aero Engineering from Texas A&M in 2003. Dr. Talley is also an alumni of Boeing’s Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program and Boeing’s Leadership Development Excellence Program.


2018 Boeing in the Spotlight Speaker - Casey Thompson

Casey Thompson is the Boeing Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Integrated Planning and Scheduling Manager. In this capacity, Casey leads and manages a diverse team of Boeing professionals to develop and maintain the program’s Integrated Master Schedule and to facilitate the program’s change management processes. Prior to this opportunity, Casey was the Systems Engineering Integration and Test Design Synthesis manager serving the Space Launch System program. Casey led and managed a team of professionals performing Computer Aided Design Integration, Technical and Drawing Quality Check, Human Engineering, Electromagnetic Effects, Thermal Protection System Integration, and Mass Properties. In this assignment, Casey earned a Silver Snoopy Astronauts’ Personal Achievement Award as well as the Region H John Van Gels Award for implementation of a rapid product development process intended to control physical and functional interfaces to enable parallel production readiness and design release. Casey joined Boeing in 2008 as a Materials and Processes Engineer supporting the former Ares program. Prior to Casey’s career with Boeing, Casey worked for Qualis Corporation conducting research of epoxy resin/carbon fiber composite material systems in oxygen enriched environments. A portion of this research was presented at the National Space and Missile Materials Symposium of 2006.

Casey holds a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville as well as a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from the University of North Alabama. Casey has been married to Derrick Thompson for 10 years, and they have a son, Taurean (2 years). She enjoys spending time with her family, painting, and various crafts.


2018 WiSE Session Speaker - Kelly Nash

Dr. Kelly Nash is an Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Her work focuses on synthesis and characterization nanomaterials and their fundamental interaction with biological systems from the molecular to cellular level and also includes understanding the combined effects of nanoparticles and electromagnetic fields for manipulation and control the biophysics of single cells. In 2015, she was awarded the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program award for the research efforts in biophysics.

Dr. Nash is committed to recruiting minorities, women, and first-generation college students into physics careers through providing them with research experiences in the laboratory. In addition to advising doctoral students, she has mentored students from high school through undergraduate levels. Since joining the faculty at UTSA, she has served as advisor to the Society of Physics Student chapter; working to help students gain research experiences and helping them apply to REU programs. She also is an advocate for involving students in research at an early stage and often. Over the last 6 years she has consistently served as a research mentor to local high school students through programs such as the San Antonio Pre-Freshman Engineering Program (SA-PREP), American Chemical Society Project SEED, and community college students from the Alamo Colleges. For these efforts, she has been recognized by her university and local community colleges.

Dr. Nash has co-organized meetings which engage students; including the annual San Antonio Nanotechnology Forum (SANTF) conference at UTSA and the 2016 American Physical Society sponsored Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (APS CUWiP) hosted at UTSA/Southwest Research Institute. She currently serves as the chair-elect for the national organizing committee for APS CUWiP and as an APS Professional Skills Development Seminar leader.

Dr. Nash received her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She holds a B.Sc. in Physics from Dillard University and a M.Sc. in Applied Physics from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.