Advisory Board

Our advisory board members include respected leaders in industry, government, and academia from a wide range of organizations that are involved in mechanical engineering.

Advisory Board

Kevin Hicks- Chair


Kevin Hicks is a senior mechanical engineer in the facilities department at Wolfspeed. He has enjoyed a dynamic 20-year career in the semiconductor industry through several rewarding positions. He started as a design engineer for a process equipment company and learned the fundamentals of equipment design and construction. After three years he moved to Micron as a facilities mechanical engineer and spent the next four years designing industrial systems and clean rooms. Through his work and relationships with internal customers, he developed a curiosity for manufacturing and took a position in the fabrication plant as a process engineer. He quickly moved into leadership and has spent nearly 10 years leading a variety of teams. He has led seven different teams ranging in size from five to 55 people and has thoroughly enjoyed developing successful people and teams.

Hicks is proud of a number of key achievements in his professional and academic career.  The journey began with a bachelor of mechanical engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, which included eight quarters of cooperative work. While working in Micron’s facilities department he earned his professional engineer license in Idaho. In support of the Micron Quality mission, he participated in the company’s first Six Sigma class and earned his Black Belt from the American Society for Quality. Most recently, Hicks joined the Mason Nation by completing his MBA in May 2014 and was also inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

Robert Gardenier

With more than 30 years of professional engineering and acquisition experience, Robert Gardenier’s spectrum of experience includes private industry, Navy field, fleet operational, and Naval Sea Systems Command program office assignments.

Gardenier currently serves as the director of warfare systems at DELTA Resources/VT Group where he is responsible for supporting Navy programs that design, procure, and integrate shipboard weapons systems.

From July 2017 to September 2019 Gardenier served as the systems integration principal assistant program manager in PMS515 where he headed all FFG(X) program’s GFE procurement, test and evaluation planning, network architecture and cybersecurity planning and design as well as all combat systems, C4I, aviation integration efforts in support of the program’s acquisition and contracts schedule.

In parallel to his civilian career at NAVSEA, Gardenier held a commission in the United States Navy Reserve as an aerospace engineering duty officer until 2017; retiring at the rank of captain. Prior to his retirement from the NAVAIR Reserve Program, Gardenier served as the NATO air armaments sub-group chairman.

Gardenier earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University, a master's degree in engineering administration from George Washington University, and graduated from Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development.  His awards include Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy Achievement Medal, and the Civilian Meritorious Service Medal.

Thomas Gardner

Tommy Gardner is Hewlett Packard’s chief technology officer for HP Federal. His current responsibilities include technology leadership, strategic technology plans, product and technology strategies, salesforce technical support, and customer relationships.

Previously, Gardner has served as the chief technology officer for Jacobs Engineering, Scitor, and ManTech. Earlier in his career, he was a senior technical executive at Raytheon. In the U.S. Navy, he served as the deputy for science and technology for the chief of naval research. He oversaw the Navy’s Deep Submergence Program as well as its Advanced Technology Program. He also commanded the nuclear submarine, USS San Juan (SSN 751).

Gardner's educational background covers multiple disciplines and fields of interest including cybersecurity, data science, blockchain, quantum information science, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and systems integration in government markets.

His thesis at MIT was on the factory of the future. He supports the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Technology Advisory Panel on Advanced Manufacturing. He serves as an industry representative to the DHS Supply Chain Risk Management Task Force. He supports advisory boards at George Mason University, College of Charleston, and The Citadel and was formerly on the Board of Governors for the MIT Sloan Fellows program.

Tracee Gilbert

Tracee Walker Gilbert is a passionate entrepreneur and engineering executive. Gilbert owns and operates System Innovation, LLC, which has provided engineering and program management services to various clients in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of Navy Modeling and Simulation. She has more than 21 years of experience leading large-scale initiatives and driving strategy for digital engineering, engineering research, and engineering programs across various domains including defense, homeland security, medical and public health, commerce/census, and the education sector. She has held various leadership positions at Lockheed Martin, MITRE, Engility, and served as a fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. She received her bachelor of arts in physics with a minor Japanese from Lincoln University and her master's in systems engineering, and her PhD industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech. She also studied abroad with the Institute for International Students in Tokyo, Japan while working as a staff editor for Tokyo Classifieds.

A.J. Incorvaia

A.J. Incorvaia is currently senior vice president of the Electronic Board Systems group within Siemens Industrial Software. Incorvaia has more than 30 years of experience both as a developer of computer aided design (CAD) products and leading organizations focused on developing software tools for the design and analysis of complex systems.

Incorvaia joined Siemens in October 2014 as the vice president and general manager of the company’s electronic systems division. Prior to this, he was vice president of the system and integrated circuit packaging group at Cadence Design Systems. Other responsibilities during his sixteen years at Cadence included vice president of product development and engineering group director. Prior to Cadence, he held software development and management positions at Viewlogic and Digital Equipment Corporation. He earned a BS in computer science from Rochester Institute of Technology, and an MS in computer science and a graduate certificate in software systems engineering from George Mason University

Luke Jameson

Luke Jameson, who earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on thermal systems from George Mason University in 2019, began his career in the Semiconductor industry with Micron Technology Virginia. Initially working as an Equipment Engineer in Ion Implant, he honed his skills with Quantum X+ and VIISta 810 workstations. Subsequently, he transitioned into the role of Quality Equipment Engineer, responsible for equipment upgrades and preventing yield loss in Diffusion, Implant, and Rapid Thermal Process. Beyond his contributions in the semiconductor industry, Luke also serves as an advisor for capstone design projects in the Mechanical Engineering department at George Mason University, showcasing his commitment to both professional development and education.

Abigail Kennedy

R&D Engineer at Trex Company. Alumni of George Mason University. 

Shweta Kumar

Dr. Shweta D. Kumar is Founding Member and Sr Technical Director for RGBSI Aerospace & Defense, and serves as the Chief Scientist for the company’s Advanced Technologies Laboratory.  In her capacity, Dr.

Kumar provides executive leadership in support of the company’s U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Commercial Aerospace & Defense objectives.  Dr. Kumar’s specific areas of professional interest include the application of advanced manufacturing, digital engineering, microcircuitry, nano technologies, and associated supply chain security measures.

Stephen Lisse


Scott Schmitz

Scott Schmitz started his professional career in the Rocky Mountains in the field of utility and civil construction. After ten years he returned to the east coast to attend the Landing School of Boat Building and Design. Following the completion of the design and marine systems program, Schmitz embarked on a journey in the marine industry where he spent 18 months completing the retrofit of the sailing vessel Ocean Planet in preparation for the Vendee Globe Challenge. Scott then went on to design the first joystick propulsion system for Viking Yachts and developed a propulsion system with six helm stations for a fleet of 97-foot tug boats currently under construction at the Chesapeake Ship Building.

Schmitz's close work with Caterpillar led to the opportunity to join Carter CAT Power Systems where he serves dual roles as the micro-grid energy systems manager and director of operations for the critical power team. This responsibility includes overseeing the development of all microgrid projects. Simultaneously, Schmitz oversees the critical power team delivering 50 megawatts of emergency backup power generators, switchgear, and uninterruptible power sources to hospitals, data centers, and the U.S. government every month.

Chris Scurlock

A headshot of Chris Scurlock

Christopher Scurlock earned a PhD in physical chemistry performing research in laser and microwave spectroscopy. He worked as a contractor to NASA for six and a half years, largely providing support to active remote sensing projects and related risk reduction. From there he coordinated the development of improved optomechanical systems for the Missile Defense Agency.  More recently he works for LMI, providing technical consulting to the Department of Defense Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, coordinating university research, and providing input into policy documentation.

Scurlock served as a judge for the NACE (Professional Corrosion Association) University Student Design contest for its first two years, then served as an outside technical advisor for various teams including George Mason University's team. He has also provided technical advising for other capstone design projects in the mechanical engineering department.

Ajay Sunkara

With a remarkable 18-year career in critical infrastructure and a professional engineering license, I bring extensive experience with critical facilities, data center design, operations, and strategic project management. In my current role as Engineering Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS), I have successfully built and led high-velocity teams, resulting in significant growth and productivity enhancements. A key accomplishment during my tenure was collaborating with George Mason University (GMU) seniors on a capstone project, and establishing roadmap for the data center engineering curriculum, demonstrating my commitment to mentoring and advancing the industry's future professionals. Having excelled in various organizations, including AWS, Tesla, and Geothermal Development Associates, I have gained a deep understanding of design and operation of data centers, cell manufacturing facilities and power plants.

My expertise encompasses a wide range of skills including people management, project management, process design, financial analysis, cash flow management, and power plant equipment installation supervision. I have a proven track record of effectively managing multiple projects, ensuring timely delivery, and maintaining the highest standards of quality. Additionally, my proficiency in root cause analysis and equipment troubleshooting makes me adept at identifying and addressing critical issues with data center cooling and electrical infrastructure. My commitment to continuous learning and adapting to new technologies has always been a driving force in my career, ensuring that I stay updated with the latest advancements in the field.

Brian M. Tanner

Mr. Tanner has more than 27 years of experience in the design and project management of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems for base building, tenant, and renovation projects, including high rise office, institutional, and residential buildings.  

 Mr. Tanner has been responsible for load calculations, writing technical reports, writing specifications, preparing contract documents, equipment selection, the design and layout of HVAC systems, and the coordination of technical data with other disciplines, coordiantion of MEP systems with Archietcture and Structure, for 20 million square feet of projects. He also performs facility assessments and energy audits of existing facilities with reports indicating findings and recommendations.

Chad Wilcox

Chad M. Wilcox is a Plant Operations manager for Mediatech, a Corning subsidiary, where he runs the manufacturing, distribution, and warehouse operations for the plant. 

Chad has worked for Corning Incorporated (Corning Inc.) in many different facets, for the past 22 years.  He began his career at Corning working as a product and process engineer, designing and manufacturing optical amplifiers for their photonic division.  After 4 years, Chad took a role in Operations supervising 4 engineers and 60 process technicians that supported the R and D center for Corning Inc., in this role he started his LEAN and Performance Excellence journey earning a green belt and black belt in DMAIC and DESIGN tools.  At this point in his career, Chad pivoted and started working in glass grinding and finishing.  These roles were developing new methods of manufacturing thin glass finishing, which included developing not only processes but new machines for thin glass polishing and precision grinding.  Also, during this time Chad transitioned into management roles that took him to Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Europe on business trips to develop suppliers and build factories for Corning, including a fully automated thin glass finishing line in Hefei, China, where he led a cross-functional team from Taiwan, Japan, US, and Europe to complete a high-speed line for Corning’s automotive market.  At this point the opportunity to move to Virginia became available, and he transitioned into a new role in Cell Culture Media manufacturing.  In this role, he led the Development team for two years improving manufacturing metrics and increasing custom product sales to record levels.  Most recently, Chad became the Plant Operations Manager – where he owns the manufacturing, distribution, and warehouse operations for this site.

Wilcox is proud of his many career accomplishments and the wide variety of his international experiences.  His career started with a Physics degree, which has led him to question the status quo and drive improvement wherever he has worked.  Chad holds 3 patents (with several in the process) on various technologies including laser processing of glass, and glass grinding.  Also, a leader in personnel development and opportunities, Chad established a talent pipeline with Cornell University’s Educational Opportunity Programs for Engineering students to intern at Corning’s R and D center.  Chad managed an Asian and European project where he and his team designed, purchased, installed, and led the startup of a unique high-speed glass finishing line for Automotive Interior Cover Glass products manufacturing.

Charles A. Worrell

Charles Worrell conducts research on automated techniques for detecting financial crimes with the MITRE Corporation. Worrell is the principal inventor of a patented method for modeling group decision making and has developed automated systems to detect events such as disease outbreaks, accounting fraud, and other illicit activities for customers in the U.S. Federal Government.

Worrell started his career as an officer in the U.S. Navy and since that time, he has worked in network operations at Verizon and as director of systems development at the American Automobile Association’s Response Services Center, where he evaluated automated call center technologies.

Worrell earned his PhD in information technology at George Mason University. He also holds an MS in systems management from the Naval Postgraduate School and a BA in regional science from the University of Pennsylvania.

He is a certified fraud examiner, a certified anti-money laundering specialist, a Cisco certified design professional, and is licensed as a 100 Ton Master Mariner by the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board plays a vital role in helping George Mason University develop the program by providing direct input on the skills students need to be successful in their careers.”

— Kevin Hicks, senior mechanical engineer