Advisory Board

(in alphabetical order)

Igor Jablokov

Igor Jablokov is the Founder and CEO of start-up Pryon Inc., an 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. 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. 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 Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from The University of North Carolina.

Thomas R. Kurfess

Dr. Thomas Kurfess received his S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering from M.I.T and is a chaired professor at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. Mr. Kurfess served 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. He has served as a special consultant of the United Nations to the Government of Malaysia 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.

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.

Phillip Lacombe

Phil has extensive experience developing and managing security services businesses as a co-founder of Secure Missions Solutions (SMS) and the former head of Cyber Initiative at Parsons Corporation. 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, 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

Dr. Romig is the Executive Officer of the National Academy of Engineering. Under Congressional charter, the Academy provides advice to the federal government on matters of engineering and technology. Dr. Romig served as Vice President and General Manager of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Advanced Development Programs, better known as the Skunk Works®. He spent the majority of his career at Sandia National Laboratories, operated by the Lockheed Martin Corporation, and he joined Sandia as a Member of the Technical Staff in 1979, became Executive Vice President in 2005, then served as the Deputy Laboratories Director and Chief Operating Officer until 2010.

Dr. Romig received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Lehigh University, and 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.