Arizona science, tech leaders join advisory board

March 25, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau

As Grand Canyon University expands its technology programs and develops its engineering curriculum, University leaders will rely on feedback from a board of metro Phoenix businesspeople for guidance.

The President’s STEM Advisory Board includes 11 professionals GCU President and CEO Brian Mueller plans to tap to keep the University abreast of innovations and entrepreneurial opportunities in science, technology, engineering and applied math. GCU staff will glean feedback from board members on “evolving workforce needs” and “how graduates are best prepared to meet those needs,” according to the board’s mission statement.

cisetlogoThe advisory board also includes GCU staff Dr. Stan Meyer, chief operations officer; Dr. Hank Radda, provost; Joe Mildenhall, chief information officer; Dr. Michael Mobley, executive director of the University’s Center for Integrated Science, Engineering and Technology; and Haley Peebles, CISET associate director.

Earlier this year, CISET announced new bachelor’s degree programs in computer science and information technology available to incoming students this fall. The University hopes to provide students with the education required for jobs as computer systems analysts, database managers, information technology security specialists and software engineers. GCU also plans to develop an engineering program by 2015. (Click HERE for details about GCU’s new computer science and IT programs.)

The median annual salaries for computer science jobs range from more than $74,000 for computer programmers to more than $93,000 for software developers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some IT jobs, such as computer and information systems managers, earn a medium of more than $120,000. Mueller said GCU’s ultimate goal is to link qualified graduates into STEM-related careers that will help them grow the Arizona tech industry.

“The breadth of experience that our STEM Advisory Board members bring to the table is invaluable for the University and its students,” Mueller said. “We look forward to learning from them as we develop the academic programs that will guide GCU students into exciting and fast-growing occupations such as software developers, engineers and IT managers.”

Preparing tech students for the workforce is a challenge GCU welcomed, Mueller said. The Arizona Technology Council and other organizations found in a recent survey of Arizona’s tech workforce that the state “is a relatively low producer” of science and engineering college graduates. Alabama, Michigan and Utah are among the states that outpace Arizona, the survey showed.

Mobley, Peebles and other CISET supporters referenced the executive summary of that survey as evidence of the need for grooming STEM-competent students to retain for the local workforce. As the survey’s authors wrote, Arizona must develop a “technology ecosystem that produces homegrown talent and keeps that talent in state, attracts talent from outside the state, and retains and attracts technology businesses that employ such talent” to build toward the future.

The President’s STEM Advisory Board includes a range of science and technology professionals, including these nine, to help guide the University in that strategic direction:

David Bennett, vice president of healthier populations at Orion Health

Bennett worked as a software engineer for Bank of America more than 20 years ago before joining his first locally-based IT startup in 1989. He has served as an executive with Cyclone Commerce, Axway and NantHealth. He recently joined Orion Health, a global e-health company that plans to set up its U.S.-based development center in Scottsdale this year. Orion is one of the world’s “leading providers of electronic health records and health care integration solutions,” according to the company.

Dr. Michael Berens, professor and deputy director of research resources at Translational Genomics Research Institute

At TGen, Berens oversees resources used for the complex and groundbreaking genetic mapping research conducted by the downtown Phoenix institute. He also serves as director of TGen’s Cancer and Cell Biology Division and was a founding co-director of Arizona’s BioIndustry Association, among other health tech leadership experience in Arizona. Berens earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1982 with a focus on cancer biology.

Dave Cano, senior engineering manager at Medtronic

Cano works at the Tempe campus for medical technology giant Medtronic, which cites on its website the need for “redefining how technology is used in the management of chronic disease.” He joined Medtronic in 2008 after nearly a decade implementing three managerial techniques — lean, six sigma, and design for six sigma — for process improvements in a range of companies in North America and Europe.

Jay Ennesser, vice president of enterprise sales for IBM’s Southwest Business Unit

In his role at IBM, Ennesser is responsible for all go-to-market activities of the integrated unit that provides innovative solutions for clients in Arizona, southern California and Hawaii. Previously at IBM, Ennesser oversaw electronics industry solutions and led new business development as part of company’s “Smarter City” partnerships. He has worked for IBM for 33 years.

Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO of Arizona Science Center

As the top executive at the 164,000-square-foot Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix, Humphrey oversees 330 employees and volunteers. Under her leadership, the center emerged as a staple in Arizona STEM education for teachers, students and families. She recently guided her organization through a $30 million renovation project that transformed the center and its programs.

Paul Jackson, managing partner at Integrus Capital

As an entrepreneur, angel investor and aerospace engineer, Jackson has a wide range of technology experience. He enjoyed a successful career as a dynamics engineer and commercial space development consultant to some of the world’s largest defense contractors before starting his own environmental testing firm and selling it to a publically held company in 2006. Since then, he has worked to evolve flagship offerings of Integrus Capital, including one company that provides a product used in the past to isolate vibration on the Hubble Space Telescope.

Eric Miller, principal at Phoenix Analysis and Design Technology

Since co-founding PADT in 1994, Miller has helped build the company into the Southwest’s leading provider of mechanical engineering services and products. He shares oversight of PADT’s computer-aided engineering business, in addition to managing human resources, IT, marketing, administration and operations. His engineering expertise includes finite element analysis simulation, mechanical design and software development for engineering applications.

Jared Stauffer, president and CEO at Brinkster Communications

Brinkster provides custom cloud infrastructure to 50,000 customers in 175 countries, according to the company. Since founding Brinkster as a startup in 1999 in the midst of his undergraduate studies at GCU, Stauffer has grown the company into a leading provider of cloud infrastructure as a service. Prior to that, he served as Web technology consultant for companies that included Intel and Lehman Brothers. Stauffer also earned his executive MBA through GCU’s Ken Blanchard College of Business.

Deanna Wise, executive vice president and chief information officer at Dignity Health

Wise has worked in information technology for 22 years, mostly in the health care industry. She plays an integral role in Dignity Health’s plans to strengthen its clinical IT systems and electronic records processes. Wise served as an IT chief at Vanguard Health Systems and Maricopa County Health District before joining Dignity.

Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or [email protected].

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