People

(image credit: NASA (triptic))

Faculty

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Prof. Zoe Szajnfarber

Prof. Zoe Szajnfarber

Professor and Chair of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Office: 800 22nd St NW, rm 2670, Washington D.C. 20052
Phone: (202) 994-7153
E-mail: zszajnfa at gwu.edu

Dr. Zoe Szajnfarber is a Professor and Chair of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the George Washington University. Her research seeks to understand the fundamental dynamics of innovation in technology-intensive governmental organization, as a basis for decision-making. She received her bachelor's degree in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto (B.A.Sc. 2005+PEY). Szajnfarber conducted her graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning dual masters' degrees in Aeronautics & Astronautics (S.M. 2009) and Technology Policy (S.M. 2009: Thesis) and a doctorate in Engineering Systems (Ph.D. 2011: Dissertation). Her dissertation focused on technology infusion at NASA and involved substantial field work at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Outside of academia, Dr. Szajnfarber has worked as a systems engineer at MDA Space Missions (Canadarm Program) and Dynacon Inc. (Microsatellites); and as a researcher at the European Space Agency (Advanced Concepts Team).

Postdoctoral Associate

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Dr. Taylan Topcu

Dr. Taylan Topcu

E-mail: topcu at gwu.edu

Dr. Taylan G. Topcu is a Postdoctoral Scientist in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the George Washington University. His research studies decision making within the contexts of engineering design and management of sociotechnical systems such as infrastructure, healthcare, service, and defense. He received his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (2020: Dissertation). During his doctorate studies, Dr. Topcu collaborated with INFRABEL, the Belgian National Railroad Company, and investigated the management of safety-critical systems that rely on human-machine cooperation. Prior to that, he earned a M.Sc. in Systems Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (2015: Thesis), where he developed design approaches to satisfy multiple stakeholders in competitive markets under uncertainty. Dr. Topcu holds a B.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering from the Middle East Technical University (METU, 2009) and prior to joining academia; he worked as a Systems Engineer at Roketsan, Turkey developing the HISAR Missile System.

PhD Students

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Jason Crusan

Jason Crusan

E-mail: jcrusan at gwmail.gwu.edu

Jason Crusan is a Ph.D. Candidate in Systems Engineering at The George Washington University's Engineering Management and Systems Engineering department. His research focus is understanding how open innovation can be utilized to support the design of complex systems. He received Bachelor's Degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics, and a Master's in Computer Information Systems from Cleveland State University. Outside of academia, he holds the current position of Vice President Technology at Woodside Energy in Perth Australia. Previously he spent over 20 years at NASA with his last position being the Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. Crusan was previously the Director for the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation, a virtual center of excellence that enables the acceleration of U.S. Government implementation of new models of problem solving using collaborative innovation methodologies such as crowd sourcing and open innovation to meet agency requirements.

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Anthony Hennig

Anthony Ian Hennig

E-mail: aihennig at gwu.edu

Anthony Hennig is a Ph.D. student in the Systems Engineering department at the George Washington University's School of Engineering and Applied Science in Washington D.C. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and his M.S. in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2016. Anthony's research experiences and educational focus have been on space mission architecting as well as its interaction with space policy. His thesis focused on sustainable policies for the engineering, business, and legal aspects of space mineral resource activities.Outside of academia, Anthony has worked for the Space Mission Analysis Branch at the NASA Langley Research Center, developed hardware for CubeSats and educational high altitude balloon flights, and established a space systems engineering research group at the Rochester Institute of Technology, RIT SPEX.

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Nikolai Joseph

Nikolai Joseph

E-mail: njoseph37 at gwmail.gwu.edu

Nikolai (Nik) Joseph is a Ph.D student in GWU's Systems Engineering Department. Nik's research interests focus on space technology development, international space cooperation, and concurrent engineering. Nik studied at GWU's Space Policy Institute and holds an M.A. in International Science and Technology Policy from the Elliott School of International Affairs, and a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from the University of New Mexico. His master's thesis focused on space technology road-mapping and strategy formulation. Outside of academia, Nik works as a Technology Analyst for Bryce Space and Technology, where he focuses on early-stage technology development and strategy integration within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). In this capacity, he provides decision support and assessments of early-stage technology, including development of evaluation tools and reviews. Additionally, Nik provides input and perspective to the technology working group of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. Prior to working at Bryce, Nik interned with NASA's Office on Interagency and International Relations, and held positions in the fields of biophysics, economic development, and health and social policy.

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Suparna Mukherjee

Suparna Muhkerjee

E-mail: suparna at gwu.edu

Suparna is a Ph.D. student in GWU's Systems Engineering department. She received her Masters from Columbia University in Applied Physics, studying magnetic confinement fusion devices. She holds dual undergraduate degrees in Mathematics, from NYU; and in Mechanical Engineering, from the Steven's Institute of Technology. Outside of academia, Suparna has significant experience developing planetary spacecraft as a mechanical systems engineer and a technology manager. Working within the private aerospace community as well as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, her work has included contributions to the last three landed missions to Mars. Her experiences in commercial and civilian space industries motivate and inform her current research interests in technology innovation and infusion processes.

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Steve Sapol

Steve Sapol

E-mail: ssapol at gwu.edu

Steve Sapol is a Ph.D student in the GWU's Systems Engineering department. He a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Operations Research from the United States Military Academy, a Master's in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech, and a Master's in Engineering and Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His current role in the Army is as an Operations Research analyst. His most recent assignment prior to GWU is in the Program Analysis and Evaluation Directorate on the Army Staff. Prior to this he also served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Systems Engineering at the United States Military Academy and as a Field Artillery officer with operational deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Ademir Vrolijk

Ademir Vrolijk

E-mail: avrolijk at gwu.edu

Ademir Vrolijk is a Ph.D. Candidate in Systems Engineering at The George Washington University's Engineering Management and Systems Engineering department. He was also a Visiting Researcher at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard. Ademir explores how technical organizations, such as NASA, can leverage crowdsourcing to solve complex problems. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering from Carleton University and is an alumnus of the International Space University's Space Studies Program. Outside of academia, Ademir has worked as a project management professional in the Canadian defense industry and the medical technology industry. He also sat on the national board of the Canadian Space Society.

Master's Students

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Lydia Zhang

Lydia Zhang

E-mail: lydzhang at mit.edu

Lydia Zhang is a master student in the Technology Policy Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received her B.A in astronomy and economics from Smith College in 2018. Lydia's research interests include the global commercial space industry, space policy for small satellites and space cooperation mechanism. Prior to her master's degree and outside of academia, Lydia has interned for the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, organizing and promoting events for ICT stakeholders. She has also worked for DJI, a private drone company based in Shenzhen, China, as their aviation policy analyst.

Undergraduate Students

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Joshua Groover

Joshua Groover

E-mail: jgroover at gwmail.gwu.edu

Joshua Groover is an undergraduate student studying Systems Engineering and Computer Science at The George Washington University. His research interests are in transportation evolvability, aerospace systems, systems policy and thinking, and machine learning applications. Outside of academia, Josh is involved in GW's Branch of The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and works as a Data Science Intern for Lockheed Martin's AI/ML Directorate. He has previously held positions such as an Analyst at Cylitix and the Vice President of The Engineers’ Council at GW.

Alumni

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Samantha Marquart

Samantha Marquart Brainard

E-mail: samm at gwu.edu

Dr. Samantha Marquart Brainard [Dissertation] gradudated in 2018 with a Ph.D. in Engineering Management from GWU's School of Engineering and Applied Science. Her research with her advisor, Dr. Zoe Szajnfarber, focused on the impacts of government oversight on the acquisition of space systems. Samantha holds a M.A. in International Science and Technology Policy from the George Washington University's Space Policy Institute and a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to her academic pursuits, Sam has held several positions in the aerospace industry. Most recently, she worked for Alliant Techsystems (ATK) as a Program Manager in Beltsville, MD. Prior to her work with ATK, Samantha worked for the Aerospace Industries Association in Arlington, VA and Virgin Galactic in Washington, DC and Mojave, CA. Sam currently sits on the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC). She managed the Space Generation Advisory Council's 2016 Space Generation Fusion Forum Event held in conjunction with the Space Foundation's Space Symposium in April 2016. She spends her free time volunteering with the Junior League of Washington, Girl Scouts of the Nation's Capital Region, and the 10,000 Girls Educational Support Program in Senegal, West Africa

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Amy Cox

Amy Cox

E-mail: amycox at gwu.edu

Dr. Amy Cox [Dissertation] graduated in 2016 from the Engineering Management & Systems Engineering program at the George Washington University's School of Engineering and Applied Science with a Ph.D in Systems Engineering and is now a professor at the Air Force Institute of Technology. She is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a Master's Degree in Space Operations from the Air Force Institute of Technology with thesis research in space structures. She is a graduate of L'ecole du Personnel Navigant d'Essais et de Reception and is a rotary wing flight test engineer. Amy's professional experience has been in the areas of space operations, test and evaluation and program management. Her dissertation research is on user innovation and design.

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Isabel Bignon

Isabel Bignon

Dr. Isabel Bignon [Dissertation] graduated in 2015 with a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from GWU's School of Engineering and Applied Science. She holds a Bachelor's and a Professional degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad de Santiago de Chile. Before starting graduate school, Isabel worked for approximately two years as an Institutional Analyst at her Alma Matter. In 2009, she was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to start her doctoral program in the US. Her research focused on institutional dynamics associated with R&D management in complex organizations. Specifically, she focused on understanding how engineers and scientists' task discretion and preference structures can be used to better align organizational-individual interests in the context of NASA. Currently, Dr. Bignon is a research analyst at Independent Project Analysis, Inc. in Ashburn, Virginia.

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Zachary Pirtle

Zachary Pirtle

E-mail: zpirtle at gwu.edu

Zachary Pirtle graduated in 2019 from the Engineering Management & Systems Engineering program at the George Washington University's School of Engineering and Applied Science with a Ph.D in Systems Engineering. His research interests include the use of independent, parallel paths in technology development and model analysis; systems and technology development; and engineering epistemology and ethics. A fourth generation Arizonan, Zach earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, B.A. in Philosophy, and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, all from Arizona State University (ASU). Separate from his GWU work, he was the co-chair of the 2018 Forum on Philosophy, Engineering and Technology. Zach has worked at NASA Headquarters since 2010, and previously was part of ASU's Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (2005-2010); lived and studied in Mexico as a Fulbright Scholar (2008); and, served as a Mirzayan Fellow at the National Academy of Engineering (2009).

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Amanda Rohrbach

Amanda Rohrbach

Amanda Rohrbach is a former master's student in MIT's Technology and Policy Program. Her research focused on Space Policy and Policy issues within the Government Acquisition Process. She received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology in 2008. Outside of academia, she has worked as a Researcher in the Space Engineering Research Center at the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute, as a Structural Analyst in the Space Structures Division of the Aerospace Corporation and most recently as the Chief Engineer for the Global Broadcast Service Joint Program Office, USAF.

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Erik Stockham

Capt. Erik Stockham, USAF

Erik Stockham is a former master's student in MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a Draper Fellow. His research interests included the management of systems acquisition in technology-intensive government bureaucracies and the improvement of capability delivery to the end user. He received his S.B. in Aeronautics and Astronautics with Information Technology from MIT in 2003. Before returning to MIT in 2010, Captain Stockham served as a USAF intelligence officer in analysis, operations, and leadership positions in the US and overseas.

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Anthony Wicht

Anthony Wicht

Anthony is a former research associate in EMSE at GWU. He recently completed a Masters in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree with First Class Honours and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales, Australia.

His research at MIT was in the area of architecting complex engineering systems such as space infrastructure. His thesis showed how to use sensible contracting to better design commonality into space systems, reducing life-cycle costs for future US space exploration infrastructure.

Prior to MIT, Anthony worked as a project finance lawyer at a large Australian law firm. His work primarily involved legal aspects of the financing and construction of large engineering projects.

Anthony is a former President of the National Space Society of Australia and is Co-Chair of the Australian Space Development Conference series.