Leadership You Can Trust
AeroDef Manufacturing® has developed an executive committee made up of the leading OEMs in the United States to drive the development of this industry-defining event.
These executives have all come together as one team that is committed to the sustainability of aerospace and defense manufacturing:
Dean Bartles, PhD, FSME
President & CEO
Manufacturing Technology Deployment Group
After serving as a board member since 2010, Dean Bartles, PhD, FSME, was named president and CEO of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining in 2019. In 2020, Bartles formed the parent organization of the Manufacturing Technology Deployment Group where he now serves as the president and CEO. Previously, Bartles served as president of the National Tooling and Machining Association and prior to that he was the director of the John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center at the University of New Hampshire. Bartles was the founding executive director of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Chicago. Before DMDII, he worked for General Dynamics Corp. for 31 years, setting up and running manufacturing operations in Egypt, Turkey and the U.S. Previously, Bartles worked for Fairchild Republic Co. as an industrial engineer on the A-10 Program. Bartles recently served as the 2016-17 president of the North American Manufacturing Research Institution of SME (NAMRI/SME), is the 2016 SME president, the founding chairman of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition and the chairman of the board of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining. Bartles graduated from Indiana State University earning his doctorate in technology management with a concentration in manufacturing systems. He currently serves on the boards of the National Small Business Association, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, the MTConnect Institute, the Industry and Professional Advisory Committee of Penn State’s College of Engineering, as well as the Engineering Technology Advisory Committee of St. Petersburg College where he serves as the 2023 chair. SME Member Since 2002
President & CEO
Avner Ben-Bassat is the president and CEO of Plataine Technologies Ltd., with over 15 years of experience in the field of complex, multidimensional optimization software for the services and manufacturing segments. Ben-Bassat leads Plataine’s Total Production Optimization product vision and global business strategy. He holds an MBA with distinction from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer sciences, magna cum laude, from Tel Aviv University.
William E. Bigot
VP - Sales & Marketing
William E. Bigot is the vice president of sales and marketing for Wilder Systems. Prior to his current position Mr. Bigot held the senior vice president of sales and marketing at Ascent Aerospace and vice president of business development position for JR Automation. Prior to those positions, he was the vice president with AIT/Nova-Tech Engineering. Before joining AIT/Nova-Tech, Bigot was vice president of sales, marketing and business development for PaR Systems.
Prior to PaR Systems, he spent 24 years in technical and managerial positions with MTS Systems Corp. At MTS Systems, Bigot helped lead the company to become a worldwide leader in the integration of physical and virtual simulation product development in aerospace and automotive markets. His technical and managerial positions are focused in aerospace, automotive and geo-civil engineering groups. Bigot has been instrumental in the development of capabilities and methods integrating physical testing with virtual simulation and the establishment of the SmartSim Community. Bigot holds degrees in mathematics and computer science from the University of Minnesota, as well as an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. SME Member Since 2015
Sector Manger, Advanced Manufacturing & Technology
Northrop Grumman Corp.
Jason Bither is the sector manager for advanced manufacturing and technology at Northrop Grumman Corp. In his current role, Bither is responsible to define the strategic direction for advanced manufacturing and identify, develop and deliver innovative and "disruptive" manufacturing capabilities that produce some of the world’s most capable and technologically advanced aerospace systems. He has 18 years of aerospace industry experience leading diverse teams, delivering innovative solutions addressing production technology needs and delivering strategic value to Northrop Grumman and the manufacturing industry. Bither has a bachelor's degree in structural engineering (aero) from the University of California at San Diego; a certification in project management, California Institute of Technology; and a certification in systems engineering, California Institute of Technology.SME Member Since 2017
George (Nick) Bullen
Chief Engineer, Advanced Manufacturing Technology
Northrop Grumman Corporation
George Nick Bullen is an internationally recognized industry expert for the manufacture of commercial, military, and private fixed and rotary wing air vehicles, rockets, missiles, and space vehicles. He is the author of six books and has published and presented over 100 articles for international journals and magazines. His work is referenced in over 50 Doctoral thesis. He has been awarded 13 patents and 2 trade secrets. He is a certified instructor of automation and the digital transformation; and also SME and SAE Fellow.
Leslie J. Cohen, PhD, FSME
Senior Advisor to Director Space Materials Lab
The Aerospace Corp.
El Segundo, California
Senior Vice President
HITCO Carbon Composites
Leslie J. Cohen, PhD, FSME, is a casual employee of the Aerospace Corp. in the Space Materials Laboratory. He joined HITCO in 2001. Cohen served for 31 years at McDonnell Douglas where he held positions of increasing responsibility in technology operations and business development. As a senior director, Cohen directed all business development at MDAC in the Russian Federation. He has published over 50 papers on advanced composite design and development, is a lecturer in advanced composites and has been awarded the USSR Gold Medal for Science and Technology. Cohen is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Science, 1992 SME Jud Hall Composites Manufacturing Award winner, is a fellow of SAMPE and SME, and the recipient of the prestigious SAMPE George Lubin Memorial Award. Cohen holds a bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, specializing in structures and materials. SME Member Since 2015
Senior Director, Raytheon Industry 4.0
Raytheon Technologies Corporation
Los Angeles, California
Kelly Dodds is the senior director, Raytheon Industry 4.0 at Raytheon Technologies where he is responsible for the strategic planning and development of manufacturing technologies, factory modernization and industrial engineering initiatives supporting SAS operations. Before assuming his current role, Dodds was a senior director, advanced manufacturing technology. He started his career at Raytheon in 2001 as a design lead for uncooled IR detector packaging, and since then, Dodds has held positions in numerous functions across Raytheon including supplier quality engineering in operations, as well as supply chain and technology area director in corporate technology and research.
Dean A. Hilgenberg
Director, Manufacturing Engineering/Tooling
Northrop Grumman Corp.
El Segundo, California
Dean A. Hilgenberg has been working as a director, manufacturing engineering/tooling at Northrop Grumman for over 39 years. Hilgenberg, leader of the integrated product team for the Joint Strike Fighter's center bay assembly, works closely with the Envision and Human Solutions simulation software packages that allows Northrop to coordinate the different assembly tasks and prevent workplace injuries. It also allows NGC to optimize the manufacturing process before committing to expensive tooling, thus avoiding rework costs further down the road.
Andrew "Drew" Mallow
Industry Liaison, Center for Innovations in Structural Integrity Assurance
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Andrew "Drew" Mallow is the industry liaison for the Center for Innovations in Structural Integrity Assurance at Louisiana State University. Previously, he was the director of the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, with significant manufacturing experience. NCAM, located at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, is home to the partnership between NASA, the State of Louisiana, LSU, the University of New Orleans and the UNO Research and Technology Foundation. He was the director of advanced operations/prototyping at the Boeing Corp. for more than 33 years. Mallow has an executive MBA in manufacturing from Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School, master's degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering University of Missouri-Columbia.
Michael "Mick" Maher
President & Co-Founder
Maher & Associates LLC
Michael "Mick" Maher is the president and co-founder of Maher & Associates LLC, which he co-founded in September 2016 after five years as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Prior to this, Maher was chief of the Composite and Hybrid Materials Branch and Materials Applications Branch at the Army Research Laboratory. He has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Loyola University Maryland and attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.
Nicholas "Nick" Melillo
Advanced Technology International
St. Louis, Missouri
Nicholas "Nick" Melillo is a technical director for Advanced Technology International, a leader in R&D collaboration management. Melillo is an experienced senior manager with a demonstrated history of working in the aviation and aerospace industry. Previously, he was a senior manager with The Boeing Co. Melillo has an executive master's degree in international business from Saint Louis University, an MBA from Saint Louis University and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Widener University.
Jeffrey L. "Jeff" Miller, PhD, FSME, CMfgE, PE
Senior Technical Fellow
The Boeing Co.
Jeffrey L. "Jeff" Miller, PhD, FSME, CMfgE, PE, is a senior technical fellow in production engineering at The Boeing Co. He currently leads the Boeing Enterprise Automation Team and Boeing Automation Industry Consortium and has extensive experience in leading innovative technology development through production system implementation. Prior to this role, Miller was in Boeing Research & Technology with assignments in composite fuselage technology and assembly development. Before joining the Boeing Technical Fellowship, he held senior management positions in technology integration for the 787 Dreamliner Program with responsibility for managing the extensive technology portfolio. Miller also led capital equipment and facilities integration for the 787, which was performed in cooperation with a global alliance. Prior to joining Boeing Commercial Airplanes, he led design, construction and activation of launch facilities for the Boeing Delta IV rocket program at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, including planning and activation for the 1.5 million square foot Delta rocket factory in Decatur, Alabama. Miller currently teaches courses in composites materials and processes, manufacturing and technical leadership. He has a doctorate in mechanical engineering and an MBA from the University of Washington, is a registered professional engineer and an SME certified manufacturing engineer. SME Member Since 1990
Paul K. Oldroyd
Technical Fellow, Engineering & Manufacturing Process Development
Bell Flight / Textron Inc. (Retired)
Paul K. Oldroyd serves as a technical fellow, engineering and manufacturing process development for Bell Flight / Textron Inc. Throughout his 35-year career at Bell, he has distinguished himself as an expert in many areas of technology development and maturation, engineering, design, R&D, engineering and manufacturing management. As a member of the technical fellow corps, Oldroyd's focus is mostly strategic in nature, serving as an advisor to emerging product teams and leading the development of technology roadmaps. His recent focus has been working with Bell’s Innovation team to explore autonomous flight for logistics, transition-to-production strategy for emerging products and long-term manufacturing strategy. To this end, Oldroyd is co-inventor of Bell’s APT family of vehicles. His fellowship charter also includes a responsibility to provide Bell leadership and other Textron business units with intelligence regarding current state-of-the-art and future state process knowledge for metals and composites processing, fabrication, automation, and assembly and integration technologies. Oldroyd is a frequent author and speaker. He has also served on numerous advisory boards, steering committees, panels and councils. He holds 44 patents and several patents pending for process and product inventions. Oldroyd is a recipient of the Donald C. Burnham Manufacturing Management Award from SME; a two-time recipient of the Robert L. Pinkney Award for Excellence in Manufacturing Innovation from American Helicopter Society International; and a two-time recipient of the Textron Chairman’s Award for Innovation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University.SME Member Since 2017
Managing Director, Aerospace & Defense
The Provenance Chain™ Network
David graduated from Brigham Young University with a Degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology. After an 11-year career in supply chain management at Raytheon Technologies, David launched RampTech Engineering where he has provided technical and operational consulting services to clients in Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management, and Software Development. David’s professional focus for the last 15 years has been to optimize supply chain management for Aerospace & Defense Manufacturers – which ultimately has led him to the Provenance Chain Network. At PCN, David is working with the DoD and Defense Industry Base to deliver the warfighter more resilient products born from transparent supply chains. He currently resides in Southern California with his wife and two children.
Ralph L. Resnick, FSME
Advanced Manufacturing Consultant
Ralph L. Resnick, FSME, joined NCDMM in September 2008 as vice president, chief technology officer with more than 35 years of manufacturing experience. He assumed president and CEO in May 2011 and led the NCDMM to win the competitive National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute contract. Upon award, he also assumed the role of acting director of the institute, now known as America Makes, until February 2013. In May 2019, Resnick stepped down as NCDMM president and CEO and was honored as an NCDMM fellow. He is now providing advanced manufacturing consulting. Prior to joining NCDMM, Resnick served as chief technology officer for both The ExOne Co. and Extrude Hone Corp. where he was a major contributor in establishing both organizations as leaders in advanced manufacturing, including such areas as additive manufacturing, process research and development, and technology transition to the world’s factory floors. Resnick holds several patents in manufacturing processes and metrology. He served on the SME Board of Directors and is a former chair and member of the SME International Awards & Recognition Committee and the former president of the North American Manufacturing Research Institute (NAMRI | SME). Resnick also serves on the MTConnect Institute Board of Trustees; the Advisory Board (chairman) for CANRIMT and HI-AM Networks of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; and is a member of the prestigious CIRP (International Academy for Production Engineering). He is a former board member of The Association for Manufacturing Technology; the Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences; former chairman of NCDMM Board of Directors and the National Defense Industrial Association Manufacturing Division. Resnick was elected an SME Fellow in 2010, received the NAMRI | SME Outstanding Lifetime Service Award in 2011 and SME's Donald C. Burnham Manufacturing Management Award in 2021. He has also received the 2018 NDIA Silver Medal for “superior leadership and service” and the America Makes 2019 Distinguished Collaborator Award. SME Member Since 1992
Bell Textron Inc.
Mr. Rivera currently serves as a build team engineer on the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft or FARA program at Bell Textron Inc. in Ft. Worth, Texas (“Bell”). Mr. Rivera, in addition to his full-time engineering role, leads the additive manufacturing strategy team and recently was responsible for Bell becoming an active member in America Makes. During his 12-year career at Bell, Mr. Rivera has also served as a reliability & maintainability engineer on the V-22 program, a manufacturing research and development engineer, and the build lead role for Bell’s Innovation team. Mr. Rivera has one patent and one patent pending at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These patents directly impacted the development of Bell’s most recent Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) drone. Outside of his technical role, Mr. Rivera has served as a mentor in Bell’s Boundless Mentorship program and leads Bell’s cycling club. Mr. Rivera is an active member of Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and currently serves on the SME Composites Committee. Mr. Rivera was also recently appointed to the JDMTP Sub-Composites Committee supporting manufacturing collaboration amongst the Department of Defense (DoD). Mr. Rivera has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Mathematics from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas (“Texas Tech”). Mr. Rivera is a native Texan, an active member in his community, and participates in multiple charitable cycling events annually.
John D. Russell, DSc, FSME
Chief, Structures Technology Branch
Air Force Research Laboratory
Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio
John D. Russell, DSc, FSME, is the chief of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Structures Technology Branch. In this role, he is the senior manager of an 18-person team that develops and transitions new airframe structures technology for safety, reliability, affordability, and efficiency in current and future Air Force weapon systems. To do this, Russell builds partnerships with customers across the Air Force, DoD, other government agencies, industry and academia. In addition, he is one of the nation’s leading experts in composite materials. Russell is a fellow of SME, the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering and the Air Force Research Laboratory. He has a doctorate in chemical engineering from Washington University in St Louis, a master's degree in materials engineering and a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, both from the University of Dayton. SME Member Since 2017
William "Bill" Saathoff
Director, Manufacturing Technology and Strategy
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
Fort Worth, Texas
William "Bill" Saathoff is director of manufacturing technology and strategy for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. His current area of responsibility is the formulation of production operations' near and long-term strategies, and the development and deployment of manufacturing technologies and manufacturing systems to support current and future LM Aero programs and sites. Saathoff additionally serves on the Lockheed Martin Production Council to support technology sharing across the corporation’s Missiles and Fire Control, Rotary and Missions systems and Space Systems business areas. SME Member Since 2015
John H. Vickers, FSME
John H. Vickers, FSME, is currently the NASA principal technologist in advanced materials and manufacturing. He also serves as the associate director of the Materials and Processes Laboratory at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and as the manager of the NASA National Center for Advanced Manufacturing. Vickers has over 30 years of experience in materials and manufacturing ― research and development, engineering and production operations for propulsion, spacecraft and scientific systems. As principal technologist, he leads the nationwide NASA team to develop technology strategies and expand the agency’s capabilities in advanced materials and manufacturing contributing to NASA’s space exploration and science missions. Vickers represents NASA for Manufacturing USA and the National Institute of Standards Office of Advanced Manufacturing. He also co-chairs the NASA Technology Roadmap effort for “Materials, Structures, Mechanisms, and Manufacturing,” which is published by the National Research Council. Vickers was elected an SME Fellow in 2017. His other awards include the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the AIAA Holger Toftoy Award. Vickers holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. SME Member Since 2015