2018 Speakers

Samantha MeedsSamuel Alva

Tricorps Security

Sam Alva is the Director of Business Development for TriCorps Security. TriCorps Security performs multi-million dollar security projects including surveillance, access control and IDS Systems as well as covert and overt risk and security assessments. Sam Alva is also a retired Air Force veteran, spending over 20 years traveling the world providing covert and overt security operations, anti-drug interdiction and vulnerability assessments in austere locations like Iraq, Afghanistan and South America 

Sam’s background includes 20 years of service in the United State Air Force as a Cyber Security Operations Manager where he conducted numerous risk and security assessments for US Government and Department of Defense installations in various environments around the globe. He developed a unique and extensive skill set bridging the gap between cyber and physical security. Sam has a Master of Science in Security Administration from Southwestern College.

Darin GresethIgor Alvarado

National Instruments

Igor Alvarado is the Business Development Manager for Academic Research at National Instruments (www.ni.com) where he develops collaborations and strategic partnerships with leading universities in the U.S. in such areas as Energy, Cyber-Physical Systems, Medical Imaging/Devices, Advanced Manufacturing and RF/Wireless Communications to improve engineering education, advance scientific research and accelerate innovation with support from NSF, NIH, DoD, DoE and other funding agencies. Mr. Alvarado is a Mechanical Engineer (Kansas State University, ’84) and has been with NI since 1999. He is a NSF Innovation-Corps mentor and has more than 30 years of practical experience in successfully developing and growing markets for high-technology products and services in the U.S. and Latin America. He has led the design, development and deployment of real- time, measurement and intelligent control systems that involve advanced numerical methods and algorithms using high-performance embedded platforms. 

He is an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), the International Society of Automation (ISA), the American Physical Society (APS), the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) and the Ibero-American Science and Technology Education Consortium (ISTEC). 

Mr. Alvarado has published technical papers and has taught courses to engineers and scientists on instrumentation, control and automation applications in industry and academia; he has also been an invited keynote speaker at leading at national/international meetings and has served as a consultant and advisory board member for academic institutions, corporations and research laboratories. In 2017, Mr. Alvarado received the prestigious Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association’s (ECEDHA) Industry Award for his contributions to the ECE discipline and to engineering education.

Sam AlvaTapan Bhatt


Offering a unique blend of leadership, technology experience and business acumen, Tapan has over 17 years of experience in developing technology products and facilitating growth in start-up ventures. He has worked on both the coasts with a number of successful venture capital backed high-tech start-ups and serial entrepreneurs.

Tapan founded TeraCrunch with a vision of helping enterprises make data-backed decisions, by offering tailored analytics solutions that provide an order of magnitude better results over all other options. As Founder and CEO of TeraCrunch, Tapan is responsible for the company's strategic direction, growth and building the best data science organization in the world. Prior to founding TeraCrunch, he played various leadership roles in successful technology startups. He served as a Vice President at ROAM (acquired by Ingenico), Vice President at AisleBuyer (acquired by Intuit), Director at Motricity (IPO in 2010, NASDAQ: MOTR) and Executive Director at Amobee Media Systems (acquired by SingTel). Tapan has earned an MBA in Marketing from Avila University and has done Electrical Engineering from K.K.Wagh College of Engineering. He is a passionate tennis & soccer player, where he continues to learn hard work, self-denial, dedication, sacrifice and team play.

Mike BradfordBrian Brown

National Institute for Aviation Research

As director of the Robotics and Automation Laboratory at the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University, Brian Brown focuses on industry-driven projects that lead to immediate implementation in the production line increasing productivity and product quality. Leveraging a combination of modern industrial and collaborative robotics, Brown and his staff of full-time engineers and student lab technicians can quickly evaluate manufacturing processes and implement a wide range of effective solutions. 

Brian has worked at NIAR-WSU for since 2002 and has a B.S. in aerospace engineering from Wichita State University.

NIAR is a nationally recognized leading research institute for advanced industrial research and technology transfer. NIAR has a $70 million annual budget; a staff of 400; and 600,000 square feet of laboratory and office space in four locations across the city of Wichita, the Air Capital of the World.

Brian BrownPaul Buchanan

BUCS Analytics 

Prior to founding BUCS, Paul was an executive level leader at an international Fortune 25 business and eventually pursued a consulting opportunity as an independent. This ultimately led to a project with Helzberg Diamonds where Paul gained understanding of how its parent company Berkshire-Hathaway guides performance for its companies.

Paul experienced the data challenges faced by mid-sized businesses seeking strategic to tactical decision alignment. It became evident that decision makers were hand-cuffed and substantial performance opportunities were often difficult to address. Through this experience BUCS Analytics was conceived and incorporated in 2006. BUCS purpose is to help mid-sized businesses put their data to work and ease the burden of conventional business reporting and analysis.

Paul BuchananBrian Dennis

Kansas Small Business Development Center, The University of Kansas

Brian S. Dennis has worked within the Kansas SBDC for over five years, first as a business consultant and now as the Director of the Cyber Security Center for Small Business. Brian holds a Masters of Emergency Management & Homeland Security with an applied focus on Cyber Security Policy from Arizona State University. He is also an Associate Business Continuity Professional certified by Disaster Recovery Institute International. Brian’s experience in bringing businesses through interruptions of service began on the ground during and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA. The awareness of small business’ lack of planning on both the physical and cyber sides of security is growing among all business owners. Brian is working to build a safer small business ecosystem, with business owners prepared to weather any storm. 

Doug GishDarin Greseth

BG Products, Inc. - President / CEO Chairman

The BG Board of Directors appointed Darin Greseth President of BG Products, Inc., in April 2010. In January 2014, he was appointed as CEO in addition to his role as President. 

In 1984, Darin began his career with BG as a Sales Representative at Kenz and Leslie Distributing Co., in Colorado. Soon after, Darin became a Sales Manager for Lew Achord at Premaco, Inc., in Georgia for 10 Quota-Busting years.

In 1997, Darin moved to Michigan and partnered with Lew Achord to form Premaco Michigan. Darin and his team transformed the Eastern Michigan territory from the bottom 10 to the top 10 among Domestic BG Distributorships.

In 2007, Darin was appointed to the BG Board of Directors and now serves as Chairman. He has served on several BG Board of Directors’ committees.

Darin brings more than 30 years of BG sales experience to enhance BG Products’ focus on building and marketing the best line of products and equipment to the automotive, commercial and industrial markets.

BG Products, Inc., is dedicated to making vehicles last longer and perform better. In partnership with an international network of Distributors, BG serves the driving public with innovative products and proven programs of automotive maintenance. In a recent national survey, dealerships said they use BG Products as their supplier of fluid maintenance service products and equipment by a margin of nearly 3 to 1 over any other.

To find a BG shop near you, go to bgfindashop.com. or go to bgprod.com.

Andi GiesenAndi Giesen

Wichita Public Schools

Andi is the Executive Director of Public Affairs and Special Projects for Wichita Public Schools (WPS). She served 24 years in education with 18 of those years in public school administration.  Andi was the Superintendent of Schools for South Barber in Kiowa, Kansas for three years prior to coming to WPS. Instructional leadership is a school administrator’s number one priority. Rigorous instructional leadership which aligns to a clearly articulated strategic plan responsive to the culture of the community is key to student achievement and the public school’s role in workforce development.

Brian DennisDoug Gish

Deloitte Consulting - Supply Chain and Network Operations

Igor AlvaradoPaul Jonas

National Institute for Aviation Research

Starting his eighth year as Director of Technology Development and Special Programs at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research, Jonas oversees numerous independent research projects for the U.S. Military, FAA, and commercial clients involving advanced materials and additive and automated manufacturing technologies. Jonas is also the Technical Director for FirePoint, a WSU center focusing on technology transfer and technology development in partnership with the U.S. ARMY Research, Development and Engineering Center. 

Prior to coming to WSU, Jonas was Design and Structural Lead on the Starship1, Project Engineer for the C-17 Winglet and Gear Door program; Technical Lead for the Air Vehicle and Escape System for the Beech JPATS proposal; Chief Engineer for the T-6A during production; and Chief Engineer for the Hawker 4000 through certification and delivery. He currently chairs the international SAE committee on Polymer Additive Manufacturing and is active in the SAE Metallic Additive manufacturing standardization efforts. Jonas has compiled a unique and broad level of experience in commercial and military contracting and aircraft design and certification.

Igor AlvaradoJonathan Lanning

Friends University Computer & Network Security

Jonathan Lanning, Assistant Professor at Friends University is responsible for the Cyber Security program in the College of Graduate & Professional Studies. Jonathan provides program oversight and management for Master of Science in Cyber Security curriculum and courseware.  Highly skilled in Incident Response (GCIH), Cyber Threat Hunting (GCFA), Information / Computer & Network Security (GSEC), Government, Intelligence, Operational Planning, and Command & Control. Strong engineering professional with a Master of Science (M.S.) focused in Security Administration from Southwestern College.

Jonathan is also a Cyberspace Operations Officer with the Kansas Air National Guard, where he currently serves as Chief of Standards and Evaluations for the 127th Cyberspace Operations Squadron. Jonathan previously served in the United States Air Force as a Defensive Cyberspace Operations Strategy Planner for the 624th Operations Center (AFCYBER), Chief of Operations Scheduling and Planning as well as a Flight Commander leading Intrusion Prevention and Response Flight, and Mission Assurance Networks, for the Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team (AFCERT).

Paul JonasJim Means

Wichita Public Schools

Jim Means is the Executive Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the Wichita Public Schools.  The office of CTE provides some 170 middle and high school teachers curriculum support for courses in the district’s 22 career pathways. Starting his 37th year as an educator, Jim has worked as a teacher, middle and high school assistant principal, high school principal, and college administrator.  Most recently, he has been working with the Kansas State Department of Education, WSU Tech, and CTE educators to help design the state’s first aviation focused CTE pathway.  

Jonathan LanningSamantha Meeds

Spirit AeroSystems

Samantha Meeds, a senior manager with Spirit AeroSystems, recently shifted her role from Global Talent Acquisition where she led her team and the company’s RPO partner for the previous five years to focus full time on Workforce Planning and Workforce Development.  A natural transition from the day-to-day recruiting operations to a more forward focus on Spirit’s demand for talent three years and beyond.  

Samantha held previous leadership roles in Leadership and Development leading programs for Spirit’s performance management, employee development and talent management systems.  Previously, as Senior HR Business Consultant, she provided Human Resources strategy development to the executive leadership team for the Fuselage Business Segment.

Samantha, a human resources professional of twenty years is experienced in Birkman assessment and holds a Human Capital Strategist Designation (HCS) from the Human Capital Institute and is a 2016 graduate of Advance Kansas, an Innovative Program in Diversity Leadership

Jim MeansStacy Mill

Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.

As CISO and VP, Global Compliance, of Spirit AeroSystems, Stacy leads global compliance and cybersecurity strategy and teams. Her passion for protecting the company’s digital assets bridges, security architecture, vulnerability management, information governance, compliance initiatives as well as information assurance.  Collaborating with her business partners, Stacy ensures information risk and compliance is understood, mitigated and controlled to business acceptable levels through building trust and awareness at all levels of the organization.

In her 30+ year career, she has developed many teams across several industries.  At KAR, an auction corporation which operates a complete auction solution throughout North America and UK, she built the business continuity, disaster recovery, security architecture, security operations, information risk and compliance strategy and teams. At Yum, Stacy built a dynamic international team to address all aspects of information security across Yum Brands, Inc. spanning 120 countries.  These brands included Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.  

Under her strategic leadership, Yum Brands achieved global PCI/SOX/HIPAA/Safe Harbor compliance, built out underlying security infrastructures and kept ahead of the myriad of US and international data and privacy laws. Stacy started in security as Humana Military’s Chief Security Officer after holding numerous positions in her 17-year career in IT at Humana Inc.  She worked closely with the Department of Defense as a member of the Information Assurance Work Group (IAWG) in support of the Tricare Management Agency and DITSCAP/DIACAP initiatives.  Her tenured career also includes VP of Engineering for Darwin Networks, Inc.

Q. RobinsonQuantae Robinson

Hormel Foods

A native of Richmond, Virgina, Quantae joined the Army to make an impact on his community.  He served four years as an Infantryman providing security and protection.  His time as a solider taught him a sense of urgency and the will to get things done which attracted him to the manufacturing industry.  Quantae is currently a production supervisor for Hormel foods and participated in the Heroes MAKE America program. 

Heroes MAKE America is a full-time, 10-week career skills program, that launched in partnership with the U.S. Army Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program at Fort Riley and the USO Pathfinder Program at Fort Riley. The National Association of Manufacturers' Manufacturing Institute created the Heroes MAKE America program in an effort to build a pipeline from military to manufacturing careers for transitioning service members.  

Quantae Robinson Scott Smathers 

Kansas Board of Regents

Scott Smathers serves as the Vice President of Workforce Development for the Kansas Board of Regents and provides executive leadership for the Kansas Postsecondary Technical Education Authority. In this role, he is the State leader for issues involving the postsecondary education and training system in the development of an educated workforce that aligns with the needs of the Kansas economy. His scope of responsibility includes developing a policy agenda for postsecondary technical education, curriculum and program evaluation, system funding, benchmarks and accountability, management of federal initiatives, adult education programs, and GED testing and administration. 

Prior to serving in his current role, Scott worked as Vice President of GO Topeka where he led the economic development efforts for Topeka/Shawnee County, as Vice President of Business Development for the City of Denison, Texas and served in multiple positions at a retail analysis and consulting company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he worked with companies both domestically and internationally. Mr. Smathers' responsibilities through the years have included workforce development, client services, sales, product development, operations, systems management, and training. 

Mr. Smathers has a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M, an MBA from Oklahoma City University and is recognized as a Certified Economic Developer by the International Economic Development Council.

Tapan BhattMike Bradford

Dassault Systemes - MIS Manager

Michael J. Bradford, CIRM, has over 30 years of experience in Manufacturing and Information Technologies as an MIS Manager, Materials Manager, Management Consultant, Software Consultant, Business Owner and part-time college instructor. He is currently the Sr. Business Experience Architect for Transportation & Mobility in the DELMIA Center of Excellence. Mike is a member of APICS (the Association for Supply Chain Management) and AIAG (the Automotive Industry Action Group.) He has contributed to multiple industry work groups, has spoken at numerous industry workshops and conferences and has been published in several trade magazines.

Sheree UtashAmy Thomas

The Manufacturing Institute

Amy Thomas is the Senior Director, Programs and Development at the Manufacturing Institute, the nonprofit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). In her role, Amy develops and executes operations for transitioning military and veteran career programs, and she is also responsible for securing corporate partnerships to support fundraising initiatives across all program areas. 

Prior to joining the Manufacturing Institute, Amy was the Program and Events Development Specialist for Grantham University, in Lenexa Kansas, where she was responsible for developing the institution’s national events platform including the university's commencement ceremony and student and alumni career branding workshops. Amy also specialized in producing programs to assist our nation’s transitioning military members and veterans.

Stacy MillSheree Utash

WSU Tech, Educational Partnerships with Business

Dr. Sheree Utash - President, WSU Tech, and Vice President, Workforce Development, Wichita State University

Dr. Sheree Utash has served as President of WSU Tech, formerly Wichita Area Technical College, since 2015. Prior to that, she served eight years as vice president of academic affairs. With 6,500 students, WSU Tech is the largest technical college in Kansas and acts as managing partner for the National Center for Aviation Training. 

Dr. Utash offers a unique blend of teaching, administrative and leadership experience in both higher-Ed and private industry. She has provided administrative oversight for the College's academic programs, with emphases in manufacturing, aviation, design, IT, specialized trades, healthcare and general education. Dr. Utash has overseen faculty, grants management, adult literacy, academic planning and resource management. Her role involved the formation and leadership of the lead institution for the National Aviation Consortium, a $15 million grant project with direct working relationships with two-year colleges in five states. 

Scott SmathersFrank Yiannas


As Vice President of Food Safety, Frank Yiannas oversees all food safety, as well as other public health functions, for the world's largest food retailer, Walmart, serving over 240 million customers around the world on a weekly basis.  Prior to joining Walmart in 2008, Frank was the Director of Safety & Health for the Walt Disney World Company, where he worked for 19 years.  

As a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, Frank is known for his ability to build partnerships and for his innovative approaches to food safety, including being a pioneer in the use of blockchain technology to create a more digital and transparent food system.

In 2008, Frank was given the Collaboration Award by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  He is the 2007 recipient of the NSF International Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Food Safety and the 2015 Industry Professional Food Safety Hero Award by STOP Foodborne Illness.  Frank is also a Past President of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) and a Past Vice-Chair of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).  

He is also an adjunct Professor in the Food Safety Program at Michigan State University and author of the books, Food Safety Culture, Creating a Behavior-based Food Safety Management System, and Food Safety = Behavior, 30 Proven Techniques to Enhance Employee Compliance, by Springer Scientific.  

Frank is a Registered Microbiologist with the American Academy of Microbiology. He received his BS in Microbiology from the University of Central Florida and his Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of South Florida.