Advisory Board

(in alphabetical order)

Igor Jablokov

Igor is the Founder and CEO of new start, Pryon, Inc., and advanced AI company. He is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) for Blackstone NC, a regional initiative focused on accelerating the commercialization of academic research backed by the Blackstone Foundation, Duke University, NC State University, and The University of North Carolina. To support that endeavor, he serves on the board for the Council for Entrepreneurial Development and as a Venture Partner at Rubicon Venture Capital. Igor also advises Penn State’s College of Engineering and the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers. He was awarded Eisenhower and Truman National Security Fellowships to deepen collaboration between government and industry.

Previously, Igor was founder and CEO of Yap, an institutionally-funded venture that pioneered cloud-based speech recognition. Its technology was deployed by numerous customers, including Microsoft and Sprint, and received accolades for their innovations, including being named North Carolina’s Early Stage Company of the Year and as a finalist at the first ever TechCrunch Disrupt conference. The startup was subsequently acquired by Amazon and is integrated into successful products such as the Alexa Voice Service platform, the Echo speaker, and the Fire TV set top box.

As Program Director of IBM’s multimodal research group, Igor led the team that invented the world’s first ever speech-enabled Web browser. With over two dozen patents issued and pending, he was named an industry luminary by Speech Technology Magazine and an outstanding engineering alumnus of Penn State. Igor holds a BS in Computer Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from The University of North Carolina.

Thomas R. Kurfess

Thomas is a chaired professor at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. Dr. Kurfess received his S.B., S.M. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from M.I.T. in 1986, 1987 and 1989, respectively. He also received an S.M. degree from M.I.T. in electrical engineering and computer science in 1988. Following graduation, he joined Carnegie Mellon University where he rose to the rank of Associate Professor. In 1994 he moved to the Georgia Institute of Technology where he rose to the rank of Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. In 2005 he was named Professor and BMW Chair of Manufacturing in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. In 2012 he returned to Georgia Tech where he was appointed the HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. During 2012-2013 he was on leave serving as the Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States of America. In this position he had responsibility for engaging the Federal sector and the greater scientific community to identify possible areas for policy actions related to manufacturing. He was responsible for coordinating Federal advanced manufacturing R&D, addressing issues related to technology commercialization, identifying gaps in current Federal R&D in advanced manufacturing, and developing strategies to address these gaps. He has served as a special consultant of the United Nations to the Government of Malaysia in the area of applied mechatronics and manufacturing, and as a participating guest at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in their Precision Engineering Program. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, and on the Board of Trustees for the MT Connect Institute. His research focuses on the design and development of advanced manufacturing systems targeting digital manufacturing, additive and subtractive processes, and large scale production enterprises. He has significant experience in high precision manufacturing and metrology systems. He has received numerous awards including a National Science Foundation (NSF) Young Investigator Award, an NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship Award, the ASME Pi Tau Sigma Award, SME Young Manufacturing Engineer of the Year Award, the ASME Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award, the ASME Gustus L. Larson Award, an ASME Swanson Federal Award, and the SME Education Award. He is a Fellow of ASME, AAAS, and SME.

Phillip Lacombe

Phil successfully co-founded and led the creation and exit of Secure Missions Solutions (SMS), an equity firm-backed company formed via acquisition under Phil’s leadership as President and COO. In 2014, he served as the head of Cyber Initiative at Parsons Corporation which acquired SMS. Mr. Lacombe has 20 years of experience in developing and managing security services businesses. Previously Mr. Lacombe was President at Veridian Corporation’s cyber sector, Vice President and manager of GD’s cyber security business line, Senior Vice President and General Manager of SAIC’s integrated security business unit and Executive Vice President of Integrated Security Solutions of Olive Group FZ-LLC. Phil also served as the Director of the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, where he led the commission staff in documenting the vulnerability of the nation’s critical infrastructure, providing recommendations to the President and supporting the government’s initial critical infrastructure and nationwide cyber protection actions. He was also a founding director and President of the Information Technology – Information Sharing and Analysis Center (IT-ISAC). Phil is a retired US Air Force Colonel, a graduate of the National War College, the University of North Carolina (MA) and the University of Massachusetts.

Alton D. Romig, Jr

Al is the Executive Officer of the National Academy of Engineering. Under Congressional charter, the Academy provides advice to the federal government, when requested, on matters of engineering and technology. As Executive Officer, Dr. Romig is the Chief Operating Officer responsible for the program, financial and membership operations of the Academy, reporting to the President. Prior to joining the Academy, he served as Vice President and General Manager of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Advanced Development Programs, better known as the Skunk Works ®. Dr. Romig spent the majority of his career at Sandia National Laboratories, operated by the Lockheed Martin Corporation. He joined Sandia as a Member of the Technical Staff in 1979 and moved through a succession of R&D management positions leading to appointment as Executive Vice President in 2005. He served as the Deputy Laboratories Director and Chief Operating Officer until 2010 when he transferred to the Skunk Works.

Dr. Romig graduated from Lehigh University in 1975 with a BS in Materials Science and Engineering. He received his MS and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from Lehigh University in 1977 and 1979, respectively. Dr. Romig is a Fellow of ASM International, TMS, IEEE, AIAA and AAAS. Dr. Romig was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003 and the Council of Foreign Relations in 2008. He was awarded the ASM Silver Medal for Materials Research in 1988.