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Blue Sky Competition Selection Committee

2022 Selection Committee



Chandra Brown

Chandra Brown is passionate about U.S. manufacturing. As CEO of MxD, Chandra uses that passion and her more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing to help American manufacturers seize the potential offered by new and emerging digital technologies. In her role at MxD, Chandra oversees all technology investment, partner relationships and project execution for the more than $120 million dollar portfolio of advanced manufacturing technology, cybersecurity and workforce development research, development, and demonstration.

Manufacturing has always been at the center of Chandra’s work and her experience has allowed her to know the industry from a variety of perspectives. As the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, she promoted U.S. businesses worldwide, worked to remove trade barriers, and strengthen U.S. competitiveness. As the CEO of United Streetcar, and an executive at its parent company Oregon Iron Works, Chandra led United Streetcar to become the first U.S. manufacturer to create a modern streetcar in more than 60 years.

Since earning both her BS and MBA from Miami University—in addition to her public service and irrespective of her individual role—Chandra has consistently worked to strengthen American manufacturing through innovative, forward-thinking, well-executed strategies. Her intrinsic desire to improve American manufacturing is always on display as she tackles not just MxD’s mission to help make every part better than the last, but also to foster a manufacturing future that is more inclusive and open to all American innovators.


Ruy Frota
Director, Product Engineering
Kennametal Inc.

Ruy Frota leads the global Product Engineering team at Kennametal. He has 35 years of experience in product development, having worked in design of Machine Tools, Injection Molding Machines, and Metal Cutting tools. He has done extensive work related to Finite Element Structural Analysis, Fatigue, High Speed Machining, Vibration, and Spindle Connections. He has led the product development teams for Tooling Systems, Indexable Milling, Holemaking and Solid Carbide End Milling. He holds more than 60 US patents and has also published several articles in the field of metal cutting tools. Ruy holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the State University of Campinas in Brazil (UNICAMP) with specialization in Mechanics of Solids.



Noel Greis
Research Professor
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

As a member of the research faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science at UNC Charlotte, Noel Greis works with companies to transform their manufacturing operations through digital technology and artificial intelligence. She serves in a leadership role for the Consortium for Self-Aware Machining and Metrology where her research focuses on the development of new methods of theory-guided machine learning. Her work in self-aware manufacturing was recently recognized by the American Association of Artificial Intelligence and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Noel is currently on the leadership team of the NSF-funded initiative “Future Manufacturing: A Network for Cybermanufacturing in Machining” to develop next generation of machine tools. She previously served as director of the Center for Digital Enterprise and Innovation at UNC Chapel Hill for more than 15 years managing a research portfolio focused on transforming organizations through data-driven processes, products, and business models. Noel is the recipient of numerous awards for her work and serves on the Technology Committee of the Association for Manufacturing Technology. She received Ph.D., M.S.E. and M.A. degrees in engineering from Princeton University and a B.A. in mathematics from Brown University. Prior to her academic career, Noel was a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories and Bell Communications Research and holds a U.S. patent for real-time prognostics and diagnostics for complex physical systems.



Lawrence John
Distinguished Analyst
Analytic Services Inc.

Larry John serves as Distinguished Industrial Base Systems Engineer supporting the Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program run by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Industrial Policy (INDPOL). One facet of his work is to provide oversight of the strategy and operations of America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) a joint DoD-DOE machine tool research and training initiative at Oak Ridge National Lab, and the conduct of related training and national machine tool network development by IACMI—The Composites Institute. Prior to this, he was ANSER’s Program Manager for the IBAS Support Team, an Industry Co-Chair of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Sub-Working Group of the NIST Cyber-Physical Systems Public Working Group, and a key technical leader on the development of two major National Defense Industrial Association studies on manufacturing cybersecurity. He is an innovative leader and problem solver with over 40 years of experience developing, structuring, and executing systems-based planning and analysis efforts for decision makers at all levels of US and international military, intelligence and civilian agencies. Larry is a retired United States Air Force officer who served as a heavy bomber crewmember, flight instructor, and operations planner, and was an operations analyst, weapons expert, and contingency planner at two USAF Major Command headquarters. An internationally published author, he has received technical achievement awards from multinational technical forums and has been the leader or key technical asset on many ANSER teams that have won awards for customer satisfaction and technical impact.


Jaydeep Karandikar
Staff Researcher
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Jaydeep Karandikar is a staff researcher in the Intelligent Machine Tool Research group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Jaydeep broad research interests include machining process modeling, monitoring, and optimization, and smart manufacturing. Dr. Karandikar has done pioneering work in machining dynamics, probabilistic optimization, and the application of machine learning and decision analysis for manufacturing process modeling. From 2014 to 2019, he was a lead research engineer at GE Research, Niskayuna, NY. Dr. Karandikar completed his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2013. After graduation, he did his post-doc at Georgia Tech. Dr. Karandikar is the 2016 recipient of the SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award. Dr. Karandikar has published more than 25 peer-reviewed journal papers, 2 book chapters, filed for three US patents (issued and pending), and has received several research awards.

Dale Lombardo

Dale Lombardo
Special Process Technologies Leader
General Electric Aviation

Dale Lombardo leads a diverse team of manufacturing technologists working across GE Aviation’s broad process and product portfolio. His team links materials to design to customers through a variety of Special Processes used in the manufacture of jet engines. Dale’s team manages the processes’ technical and quality requirements via a distributed team of hundreds of experts and practitioners across engineering and manufacturing. His team is a key part of how GE Aviation maintains high quality standards while also leaning forward into novel special processes and process control strategies. Dale graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with both BS & MSME with a specialization in Mechatronics & Controls. He has worked in a variety of Manufacturing Technology roles for GE including Global Research, GE Power, and GE Aviation. Dale’s personal technical background is in Machining, Process Monitoring, Surface Treatment (peening), and Surface Finishing. Dale has represented himself and GE on industry task groups (Nadcap), standards boards (ASME B46.1), and various panels and paper review processes including NAMRI and CIRP. He holds multiple patents in a broad array of manufacturing related disciplines. Dale lives in upstate New York where he is also a volunteer and mentor in the local school districts and supports STEM activities from elementary through graduate level programs locally.


A. Adele Ratcliff
Director, Industrial Base Analysis & Sustainment (IBAS) Program
Department of Defense (DoD)

Ms. Adele Ratcliff is currently the Director of the Industrial Base Analysis & Sustainment Program (IBAS) Program within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy (IndPol). During her tenure in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, she has focused on building strong interagency partnerships to address broad transition of manufacturing issues, such as manufacturing readiness and the Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise. Her current position uses the broad authorities of the IBAS program element to enable a modern Industrial Base that integrates traditional and emerging sectors to be able to respond at will to National Security Requirements. Most recently, as the Director of the DoD Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) Program, Ms. Ratcliff led the effort in establishing the DoD’s national Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MIIs), now known as Manufacturing USA Institutes, outlined in the President’s 2013 State of the Union address.

Ms. Ratcliff’s long acquisition career has included serving as Program Manager for the congressionally mandated Defense Acquisition Challenge Program, Deputy Program Manager for the Foreign Comparative Test Program, and more than eleven years in Air Force Test and Evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. As Test Manager, she guided the Air Force’s Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser test program (better known as WCMD), from prototype through the production and deployment phase of the Platform, earning her the Air Force Materiel Command Test Engineer of the Year Award. More importantly, her efforts transitioned this Platform to support the Warfighter in the initial phases of Operation Enduring Freedom. She is a proud alumnus of the Mississippi State University Bulldogs, earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1988. In 2011 she graduated from the U.S. Army War College (in-residence) earning a MS in Strategic Art and graduated from the Department of Defense’s Defense Senior Leadership Development Program (DSLDP). She received the SECDEF Award for Excellence for her support of the Pilot Institute for Additive Manufacturing in March 2013.

Anand Tanikella

Anand Tanikella
Vice President R&D
Saint Gobain Abrasives Worldwide

Anand Tanikella is currently the worldwide Vice President of R&D for Saint Gobain Abrasives based in Massachusetts, USA. Prior to this, Anand was the founding Director of Saint Gobain Research India, a newly setup 7th transversal R&D center in Chennai, India. Anand joined Saint-Gobain in 1996 in USA as a Senior Research Engineer in Saint Gobain North American R&D Center in Northborough, MA in Boston area. He held various positions with increasing responsibilities during the past 25 years conducting breakthrough R&D in technologies related to ceramics, abrasives, plastics and various construction materials. He is passionate about Technology management and bringing out profitable Innovations, as well as about influencing the Impact of Engineering Education on Industrial Innovation. Anand received a Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering and Precision Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1996 and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Andhra University, India. He has authored numerous international journal publications and holds over 15 patent families with several in process. Throughout his career, he has been active in technology education and was a part time faculty member at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

John Vickers

John Vickers
Principal Technologist
Space Technology Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

John Vickers serves as the principal technologist in the area of advanced materials and manufacturing within the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. He also serves as the associate director of the Materials and Processes Laboratory at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and as the manager of NASA’s National Center for Advanced Manufacturing with operations in Huntsville, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. He has over30 years of experience in materials and manufacturing --research and development, engineering, and production operations for propulsion, spacecraft, and scientific space systems. As principal technologist, he leads the nationwide NASA team to develop advanced manufacturing technology strategies to achieve the goals of NASA’s missions. He is the Agency representative to the National Science and Technology Council, Subcommittee on Advanced Manufacturing and the Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains. He is a founding member of the Manufacturing USA -National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program and the Interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office. His many awards include NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and the AIAA Holger Toftoy award. He is a fellow of SME. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.


Jason Wolf
Mechanical Engineer
Air Force Research Laboratory

Jason Wolf serves as a Mechanical Engineer and Program Manager in the Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies Division, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. He is responsible for planning, managing and executing programs that provide advanced manufacturing processes, techniques and technologies for timely, high-quality and economical production and sustainment to strengthen the defense industrial base. In this capacity, he has managed a portfolio of projects valued over $140 million dollars. He also serves as a subject matter expert on the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology Panel – Metals Subpanel. Before joining AFRL, he worked as a Manufacturing Apprentice at the NASA Glenn Research Center and a Tool and Die Maker Apprentice at Exact Tool & Die, both in Cleveland, OH. He served as an advisory council member for Polaris Career Center’s Precision CNC Machining Program, a program he graduated from as a high school student. In 2018, he was recognized as an SME 30 Under 30 honoree. Jason holds a M.S. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from the University of Kentucky and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cleveland State University.