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Provided by ASME Logo The American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Keynote Speakers

Abstract: Everyone dreams about the great beyond - not everyone revolutionized how to get there. In this keynote session, Jonathan Yaney, Founder & CEO of SpinLaunch, shares his journey of how he conceptualized, and ultimately built, the world’s first ground-based, electric-powered space launch system. What’s the secret to delivering on this audacious goal? Mindset. Jonathan will share how the power of mission, grit, and the willingness to try anything is a key enabler to making far-off dreams become reality. Joining Jonathan on-stage is Creon Levit, Director of R&D at Planet Labs, who will share his own story of how innovation, iteration, and automation, along with low-cost electronics, is allowing Planet to launch earth observation satellites faster than any company or government in the world.

Jonathan Yaney

Jonathan Yaney

Founder & CEO

Biography: Jonathan Yaney founded SpinLaunch in 2014, with the mission to expand access to space by developing a radical new space launch system to dramatically lower costs and carbon emissions. During the last eight years, under the innovative vision and business acumen of Mr. Yaney, SpinLaunch has emerged as a fundamentally new type of kinetic launch system ready to transform the space industry and meet the growing demands of the small satellite market.

Mr. Yaney is a serial entrepreneur with 15 years' experience founding companies in SAAS, consulting, IT, and construction industries. He is a 1,000+ hour pilot and in 2019, was featured in WIRED Magazine as one of the 25 top innovators to watch. In 2022, SpinLaunch was named one of the top 100 most influential companies in the world by TIME Magazine.


Creon Levit

Creon Levit

Director of R&D
Planet Labs

Biography: Creon was employed as a scientist at NASA for over 30 years. He worked in applied physics, computational physics, aerodynamics, large data visualization, computational chemistry, parallel computing, celestial mechanics, launch systems, optics, and space systems engineering. Since 2015 he has been director of research and chief technologist at Planet Labs - a multinational satellite imaging company headquartered in San Francisco. Creon serves on several NASA committees and tech company advisory boards.


Vivek Lall

Vivek Lall, Ph.D.

Chief Executive
General Atomics Global Corporation

Abstract: Dr. Lall will discuss the Defense, Energy, and Space sectors and how innovation is driving progress for the future.

Biography: Dr. Vivek Lall is Chief Executive of General Atomics Global Corporation based in San Diego, California. GA and affiliated companies operate on five continents. The company produces a series of unmanned aircraft (Predator/Reaper/Guardian) and provides electro-optical, radar, signals intelligence, and automated airborne surveillance systems. GA produces electro-magnetic aircraft launch and recovery systems, satellite surveillance, electro-magnetic rail gun, high power laser, hypervelocity projectile, and power conversion systems. GA is the principal private sector participant in thermonuclear fusion research through its internationally recognized DIII-D and inertial confinement programs. GA is a leader in development of next-generation nuclear fission and high-temperature materials technologies.

Lall was appointed through the Pentagon as a United States Technical Team member to the NATO STO (Science and Technology Organization). Lall serves on the International Advisory Group of the US Chamber of Commerce as well as Board of Directors of US Japan Business Council and the Global Board of Directors of the US India Business Council in Washington DC. He also serves as Senior Advisor to the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy at the University of California San Diego as well as on the Board of the Center for Advancing Global Business at San Diego State University. In 2018, he was appointed by the United States Government in a key advisory role to the US Cabinet Secretary heading Department of Transportation (encompassing entities like the Federal Aviation Administration) in Washington DC which affects US and global aviation policies and technologies. Lall served as Vice President of Aeronautics Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense company. Prior to that he has served as Chief Executive of U.S. and International Strategic Development at General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems. From 1996-2011, Vivek held numerous marketing and engineering leadership roles with The Boeing Company, the world’s largest aerospace company, including the Airplane Performance and Propulsion Group in Seattle. He was appointed as Vice President and India Country Head, Boeing Defense Space & Security in May 2007. He also worked as an adjunct faculty member at Embry- Riddle, McConnell Air Force Base. He also served as the founding Co-Chair of the US – India Aviation Cooperation Program launched in 2005. Prior to Boeing he worked for Raytheon and conducted research with NASA Ames Research Center in various multidisciplinary engineering fields. Lall was also a special advisor to the United Nations in New York, a role in which he steered the multi-nation body frame policy and its implementation in the area of broadband and associated cyber security issues.

Lall earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree from Carleton University in Canada and a Masters of Aeronautical Engineering degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. He also has his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Wichita State University in Kansas and his MBA from City University in Seattle. He has also completed management and executive courses at the American Management Association in Washington DC.

Lall was conferred the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award by the President of the United States of America Joe Biden in September 2022. Lall was also bestowed the Noble title of “Sir” for his lifelong outstanding achievements. He is also an Ambassador of the State of Arkansas as well as a Kentucky Colonel which is the most well-known US colonelcies conferred to several past US Presidents. He was also granted the Grand Cross by His highness Mahmoud Salah Al Din Assaf.

Cambridge (UK) has listed him as one of only 2000 Outstanding Scientists of the Twentieth Century. He was President of the Mathematical Association of America. He has authored over hundred articles in various journals. He was also trained as a private pilot at the Phoenix International Flight Training Center in Florida.


Alba Colon

Alba Colón

Director of Competition Systems & Technical Partnerships
Hendrick Motorsports

Abstract: Alba Colon will provide an overview of Hendrick Motorsports highlighting the engineering work done at the race team and the everyday challenges encountered by her and her team. Learn what goes on behind the scenes of the most successful NASCAR Cup Series race team.

Biography: In January 2018, decorated auto racing engineer Alba Colón joined Hendrick Motorsports as director of competition systems. She works to enhance capabilities that directly support at-track competition with responsibility for critical areas including data analytics and communication technologies, database, team operations center among others.

Long regarded as one of the most influential women in NASCAR, Colón came to Hendrick Motorsports after a well-chronicled career with General Motors that spanned more than two decades.

Colón has received numerous honors for her pioneering work. In 2017, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation presented her with the STEM Award for contributions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She was honored as one of Business Insider's 23 Most Powerful Women Engineers in the World in 2015. In 2021, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers presented her the prestigious Kate Gleason Award.

Colón has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.