Dr. Dick Cheng is the Chief Technologist and Co-Founder of MACH-20, LLC. He is a technical leader with broad experience in R&D and program management with expertise in hypersonic materials processing, surface and materials characterization, process and hardware development, sensing systems, and thin film coatings. Prior to co-founding MACH-20 and providing technical and strategic advisory services to government funding agencies such as DARPA and AFRL, he served in a variety of R&D and management positions within the industry. Adept at developing new materials and processes as well as bringing complex engineering systems to market, Dick provides a unique perspective in supporting the execution of R&D programs critical to U.S. National Security. He has over 2 decades of hardware and process development experience in materials and manufacturing, earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, and holds 21 patents.
Dr. Jesse Margiotta is the Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of MACH-20, LLC. He is a leader in the hypersonics community, specializing in identifying key scientific concepts, codifying technology risks, and developing executable investment and management strategies for new capabilities. He was trained as a materials scientist (earning a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University), focusing on methods to make superior refractory materials in desirable configurations. He has held various technical consulting roles for the Department of Defense, including lead technical advisor on many DARPA projects and subject matter expert for most current hypersonic missile development programs. He maintains a robust network within the DoD, Industrial Base, and Academia, and leverages that to connect dots for his clients in meaningful ways.
Lilee has over 2 decades of experience managing the accounting, tax, and human resources departments of enterprises ranging from small business start-ups to multi-billion-dollar conglomerates. She holds two Masters's degrees; one in Accounting and one in Taxation. She is a licensed Enrolled Agent as well as an active member of the National Society of Enrolled Agents and the Northern Virginia Chapter of Accounting Professionals. She has a proven track record of strategic financial planning, budget reconciliation, and risk mitigation approaches to catalyze company growth. Her active engagement in the community allows her to stay abreast of the current and constantly changing federal, state, and local regulations. She currently manages all financial, Human Resources, and regulatory compliance for MACH-20.
Danielle has 15 years of experience as a chemical engineer and program analyst at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). She played a lead role in selecting materials and application processes for spacecraft coatings tailored to thermal protection during the extreme temperature swings and harsh environments encountered in space. In parallel, she also served as a contamination engineer which focused on the prevention of particulate and molecular contamination of satellites through all phases of their lifecycle. In this role, she participated in a successful spacecraft launch campaign at Kennedy Space Center. As a Program Analyst, she was the Education and Outreach program manager for the Engineering Directorate at NASA GSFC. This position required her to interface with SES-level personnel across the management at GSFC, HQ, and other NASA centers. Her main focus in this position was to develop and maintain an engineering pipeline which required extensive leadership experience and coordination of complex outreach programs to engage and retain learners from Kindergarten through post-doctoral. Danielle departed NASA in 2018 to focus on the start-up of MACH-20 and Domestic Engineering. She is currently the Vice President of Operations at MACH-20 and serves as the Contracting lead.
Dr. Daniel Butts is a materials engineer with over 20 years of industry experience focused on the development, evaluation, and manufacturing maturation of high-temperature materials for propulsion and hypersonic applications. His hands-on manufacturing experience encompasses coatings and net-shape structures formed via atmospheric plasma spray (APS), vacuum plasma spray (VPS), cold spray (CS), and electrochemical deposition methods. Daniel has a concentrated background in the machinability, structural capability, and thermochemical behavior of refractory metals and their associated carbides, nitrides, borides, and oxides. Daniel has served as the program manager on >70 high-temperature materials programs funded by DoD and industry. At MACH-20, Daniel serves as a materials, manufacturing, and ground test SME for DARPA DSO & TTO, Missile Defense Agency, and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Daniel’s actively maintained network within the DoD, industry, academia, and non-profits fosters collaboration and synergistic technology advancement.
Dr. Howard Poisl retired from Raytheon Missiles and Defense located in Tucson, Arizona as a Senior Engineering Fellow. He was a staff member in the Materials and Process Engineering Department, responsible for ceramics materials development and testing. He was also the Hypersonics Material Lead, responsible for the characterization, testing, and development of both structural and functional materials of the airframe. Dr. Poisl completed his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at the University of Arizona in 1995. After working as a Research Professor in the MSE Department and starting several technology and consulting companies, he transitioned to Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS), where he was responsible for all high-temperature materials development and testing, trade studies for material selection, and generation of design properties. Dr. Poisl is a recognized Subject Matter Expert for optical and radome materials and testing, impact testing (specifically related to weather encounters), and fracture analysis. Dr. Poisl has supported numerous programs for radome and optical dome fabrication and qualification, including coatings for improved performance. He was the Principal Investigator on several Raytheon IRAD projects for ceramic material development, with an emphasis on properties and processing. This has included advanced radome and antenna applications, as well as the development of computational models for materials development. Dr. Poisl has extensive experience with ground testing facilities, including arc jets, quartz lamps or laser heating, hot structural tests, impact testing, and wind tunnels. He also has extensive experience with testing electromagnetic materials for characteristic properties, as well as functional testing of EM devices for conformance to requirements.
Michael Kinsella has over 34 years of experience working for the Air Force Research Laboratory at WPAFB. Over the course of his career, he has gained technical and program management experience in developing advanced technologies for turbine engine propulsion, materials and manufacturing, and hypersonic systems. Mr. Kinsella’s turbine engine experience ranges from aero, heat transfer, and materials basic research to ground testing of advanced fighter engines. This experience included a two-year rotation to the Propulsion SPO as the Turbine IPT lead for the F-135 engine. During this rotation, all final design reviews were completed, over 1000 turbine module-specific requirements were verified, and F35's first flight was accomplished. Mr. Kinsella’s next experience was as Ceramics and Composites Branch Chief in the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. Here he was responsible for overseeing the research of government and contractor personnel on high-temperature ceramic and polymer composites for a wide range of Air Force systems. His next role was as Systems Engineer for DARPA’s Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) and materials SME. As Systems Engineer, responsibilities included configuration control, requirements development and verification, and managing the risk review process. He was responsible for providing extensive oversight at the contractor facilities during the design and integration of the test vehicles. The common thread throughout Mr. Kinsella’s over three decades of civilian service centers around materials and manufacturing technologies development for Air Force systems.
Dean Polk has a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Mississippi State University and over 16 years of experience in DoD programs. He spent his first 10 years building a strong engineering base as a structural designer and analyst on hydraulic systems, UAVs, interceptor missiles, solid rocket motor design, liquid rocket propulsion test beds, seeker windows, fielded subsonic airframes, supersonic and transportation load dampening, ground station development, and Mil-Std-810 test campaigns. His extensive knowledge of CAD systems, finite-element methods, manufacturing, metals, structures, thermal management systems, and space & atmospheric flight environments grew into a depth of insight in hypersonic composite material science. His application of organizational and ISO/ASO/CMMI best practices translated well into PMP-style organization that has benefitted various teams as he managed $50k to $100M hypersonic programs over the last 7 years.
Mr. James W. Poindexter (DR-III) is a Sr. Technology Manager who joins MACH-20 from the Propulsion, Structures, & Manufacturing Enterprise Branch, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. As a Sr. Mechanical Engineer focusing on high-temperature materials manufacturing supporting hypersonic applications, Mr. Poindexter was the Manufacturing lead for the $900M Joint AFRL/DARPA High-Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) Technology Maturation program. He owned the AFRL/RXM Hypersonics Manufacturing Product area and was in charge of planning and executing the ManTech Hypersonics portfolio totaling over $20M. He was instrumental in developing the $50M Title III effort for High Temp CMC Materials for Hypersonic Strike currently awaiting Presidential signature. In addition, Mr. Poindexter served on the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) Materials and Manufacturing IPT as a subject matter expert. Prior to becoming the ManTech Hypersonics Lead in 2015, Mr. Poindexter was a member of the ManTech Strategic Planning Team responsible for the definition of, and project planning for, the Factory of the Future strategic thrust. His primary focus centered on the application of flexible robotics in a factory setting and the development of real-time process control techniques using embedded sensors. Mr. Poindexter was also the ManTech SBIR program focal point where he developed and executed a number of high-dollar value SBIR projects supporting F-35 Production.
John Hile has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Auburn University and 5 years of ground test experience at Arnold’s Air Force Base with the Arc Heater Facility, where he was the Lead Test Engineer for nearly 4 years. In his time at AEDC, he planned and executed 100+ arc heater tests with several model geometries of high-temperature materials such as wedge coupons, nose tips, leading edges, shrouds, and other unique geometries. Using his knowledge of compressible flow and nozzle theory, he aided DoD and contractor customers on which nozzles, heater conditions, model sizes, and instrumentation should be used in order to collect the required data needed to meet program objectives. He analyzed CFD and test data to ensure the facility's safety and customer data integrity would be maintained throughout the tests. As the lead, he was involved with schedule planning and aided the capability manager in balancing test readiness and need dates in order for programs to meet milestones on time. Overall John has built a large knowledge base of arc heater testing/ground testing in a short amount of time through rigorous test planning, execution, and analysis in a fast pace environment.
Ms. Christie White is an aerospace engineer with 13 years of government experience focused on the air and space domains. She began her career as a safety engineer with the Space Shuttle Program, gaining hands-on experience with ground launch hardware and a life-long passion for hypersonic technologies. Following the conclusion of the Shuttle Program, she transitioned into the intelligence community where she conducted analysis and served as a liaison between several DoD organizations. As an analyst, she assessed aerospace systems including emerging and disruptive technologies, aerospace propulsion concepts, high-temperature materials applications, and space-based ISR systems. For MACH-20, Christie leverages her technical foundation, organizational skills, and perspective gained as a liaison to provide complete client support.
Michael Grabinger, with a BS in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, brings over 38 years of DOD Weapons Acquisition experience to the M20 team where he serves as a Senior Manufacturing Engineer providing expertise in development and design for manufacturing and transition to production support. During his career, he has served as project lead for various efforts including electronic component failure analysis, hybrid electronics and multi-chip module development/production, reliability enhancements, DC to DC power hybrid (thick film) development and production, Subminiature Telemetry hybrid (Dupont Greentape) transition to production, electromechanical fuze reliability improvement/process control (surface mount/thru-hole), and the Manufacturing IPT lead responsible for the manufacturing construct (SOW, MRA, Supply Chain development). As a Senior Principle Engineer for the GBU-31/32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) SPO, he led the design for manufacturing and supply chain development efforts resulting in the sole contract award to McDonald Douglas/Boeing. Prior to JDAM Full-Rate Production (FRP) he spearheaded and won a ManTech's effort to develop small/medium size suppliers to improve production rates and lower costs while maintaining quality. This ManTech effort was instrumental in JDAM’s ability to rapidly increase the initial FRP target of 1,200 units/mo. to 3,300 units/mo. as a result of Defense Emergency Response Funding following the 9/11 attacks. He served six years as President/COO/Director of Manufacturing of a small business (400+ personnel) with core competencies in avionics design, manufacturing, and obsolescence/redesign services. During this time he learned critical skills pertaining to organizational management, accreditations/certifications (AS9100 and NADCAP), P& L, contract negotiations, and supply chain management. He later served as Manufacturing Subject Matter Expert as a member of the System Program Offices for AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) and AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). Here he was responsible for hardware and supplier development, obsolescence management, process failure modes, effects analysis, transition to production, and manufacturing readiness assessments.
Joseph Blackman earned his bachelors of science in chemical engineering from the University of Alabama in 2010. He has 12 years of experience in production optimization with 8 years of experience in material processing, 7 of which dealt with high-temperature materials. He has first-hand experience producing high-temperature materials in additive manufacturing using molten salt electrodeposition, plasma spray, and direct metal laser sintering. He has applied his experience in high-temperature materials to DoD, NASA, and DoE projects with the majority of his materials experience applied to propulsion and hypersonic bodies. He has 8 years of experience working on the design, analysis, testing, and production of various propulsion systems including monopropellant liquid rockets, controllable solid propellant rockets, and large solid propellant rockets.
Carlo Pizzano received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical and Materials Engineering from Loyola University Maryland. For his senior design project, his team devised an at-home flood warning system. In addition to his academic work, Carlo was an advisor to the university president and the athletic department leadership on issues affecting student-athletes especially on issues of mental health, diversity and inclusion, and safety. He received recognition for his efforts to improve the culture at Loyola University. He played Division I golf for Loyola and participated in the ‘21 and ‘22 NCAA Regionals. In 2022, he was selected on the Academic All-American Team. He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Data Science at Loyola. Outside of academia and golf, his work experience has been mostly construction commissioning and consultation on risk management and data organization.
Yung has over two decades of combined experience in the Embedded and Information Technology industry. As a co-founder of multiple startups and a consulting business, he has demonstrated adept entrepreneurship and leadership skills. His technical expertise spans a broad spectrum of information technology, encompassing circuit board design, firmware, and software development for both embedded and cloud-native technologies. Yung possesses comprehensive knowledge of all phases of a hardware and software product lifecycle, showcasing proficiency from product inception to commercialization. With a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and a master's in Business Administration, his educational background further enhances his ability to bridge technical and business aspects.
Rami Akouri is a Materials/Mechanical Engineer with over 9 years of experience in the aerospace and defense industry, developing next-gen material solutions, and working through the challenges of scaleup and integration. He has extensive experience in the research and development of materials for extreme environments, electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) materials, radio frequency (RF) materials, complex windows and radomes, nanomaterials, environmental and protective coatings, additive manufacturing, novel ceramic forming techniques, heat treatments, and composite materials. Earning his M.S. in Material Science and Engineering from Boston University and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology, Rami’s multi-discipline background allows for creative thinking and thorough execution of tasks. In his early career, Rami worked hands-on, developing novel processes for emerging materials systems. As the technologies matured and gained further stakeholders, he led the transition of these technical processes developed in-house to outside, production relevant, suppliers. These tasks included composing product specifications, drawings, process documentation, acceptance test, and quality control plans. He also served in many roles including principle investigator for several Internal Research And Development (IRAD) projects, technical lead on Customer Research and Development (CRAD) programs, and a materials subject matter expert for several production programs. Rami never strays away from difficult challenges and is dedicated to continuous growth in new technology areas.
Brent Carey is a technical program leader with a broad base of experience ranging from technology transition in aerospace systems to product innovation and process development. He served as the Principal Investigator for a $50M DoD hypersonic manufacturing technology program, managed the innovation portfolio for a $2B composites business, and spearheaded a $25M automation capital improvement effort at a flagship production facility. His 15 years of diverse composite material and hypersonic technology expertise are bolstered by subject matter expertise in technical portfolio management and resource allocation, Six Sigma training in process control, and deep knowledge of nanoscale phenomena. He earned his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Rice University.
Brad Cowles brings over 50 years of aerospace industry experience to MACH-20, with expertise in aerospace materials and processes, materials behavior, structures, life prediction, propulsion, and in risk-based manufacturing readiness assessments. His 37-year career in a large aerospace company included broad technical and management positions; and culminated as Sr. Fellow – Discipline Lead for Materials and Processes. Brad holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Engineering Science from Florida State University, and an M.S. degree in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.