Team Empire

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President, Co-Founder Bill Culley

Bill co-founded Empire Robotics after spending four years in robotics and developing technology-based startup companies. With a unique background in robotics research and product launch strategy, Bill has positioned Empire Robotics as a disruptive robotic gripping and work holding tool provider in the industrial automation industry. Prior to Empire Robotics, Bill served as COO at StormBlok Systems, shaping the operations and go to market strategy for this high tech building materials company. Before StormBlok, Bill spent two years as a partner in Finlo LLC designing and building solar electric systems for commercial and residential properties. Bill began his career at Oliver Wyman, where he served internationally as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies. Bill holds an BS degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Hod Lipson's Creative Machines Lab at Cornell University, and a MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell.

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John Amend CTO, Co-Founder

John leads Empire's technical team. He is lead inventor on the company's core patents and serves as Principal Investigator on a number of the company's research grants. John earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from Hod Lipson's Creative Machines Lab (one of PopSci's 25 most awesome college labs of 2011) at Cornell University, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. John's graduate research advanced robotic jamming grippers from initial concept to publication in top robotics journals, receiving coverage in over 200 popular news sources including: TIME, Scientific American, MSNBC,The Washington Post, Wired, NewScientist, MIT Technology Review, and IEEE Spectrum. John holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University at Buffalo and has publications in robotic manipulation, granular packing, learning algorithms, and machine design.

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Director of R&D Nadia Cheng

Nadia received her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of California, San Diego. At MIT, Nadia designed and analyzed tunable stiffness mechanisms, including a jamming robotic manipulator. She was also a National Defense Science and Engineering Research Fellow, has worked at the MIT Media Lab, and has held internships at various government and private institutions. Nadia has publications in robotics, air traffic management, tangible user interfaces, and nature-inspired cocktail garnishes, and has also worked in areas including medical devices, assistive technologies, and 3D printing.

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Sami Fakhouri Principal Research Scientist

Sami earned his B.S. degree in Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his M.S. degree in Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he will also receive his Ph.D. Sami’s research has focused on the mechanical analysis of soft materials such as gels and biological tissues. Specifically, he has analyzed and quantified the deformation and failure behavior of soft solids during puncture and cavitation. Sami has publications in adhesion, clinical technology, and organic electronics, and has also worked in areas including drug delivery, ballistics, and photovoltaics.

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Product Engineer Samuel Naseef

Sam attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) as a double major, earning his two B.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Engineering in 4 years. While at WPI, Sam helped to design and build an assistive mobile robotic platform from a Segway RMP as a research platform for aiding bedridden patients and participated in a study abroad program in Puerto Rico, where he worked alongside the U.S. Forest in creating a community based environmental group focused on the maintenance and protection of a section of the El Yunque National Forest, the only Tropical Rain Forest in the United State's National Forest System. Sam also worked in the WPI Machine Shops, was an active member of a FIRST Robotics Team for five years, and held internships in various engineering disciplines throughout high school and college.

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John Dean Product Manager

Prior to joining Empire Robotics John was a technology consultant at Indus Valley Partners where his main role involved advising the world’s top hedge funds on leveraging data to automate compliance, investor relations, and accounting reports. Outside his normal role, John helped launch an internal product design review, managed and sold the company’s portfolio compliance product, and led recruitment strategy.

John holds a B.S. in mechanical and aerospace engineering and an M.Eng. in engineering management from Cornell University. John earned three varsity letters as a member of the Cornell varsity golf team.

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Applications Engineer Alyx Daly

Alyx studied Mechanical Engineering with a focus in Robotics and Product Design at MIT. While at MIT, Alyx spent time developing a catheter fixation and isolation device for dolphins in cooperation with the Navy Marine Mammal Program and served as a hardware engineer within the Tangible Media Group to design and fabricate the inFORM system—a scalabe, actuated, tangible-input Dynamic Shape Display. Since leaving MIT and prior to joining the team at Empire Robotics he has spent time leading the design of entertainment products for large scale manufacturing and worked as a robotics application engineer with responsibilities including the integration and development of state of the art 3D sensing and robotics systems for use in manufacturing, distribution, and logistics facilities.

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Ted Plummer Operations Manager

Ted graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy with a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Ted's first assignment after school was as the Auxiliary Division Chief on board the USCGC ESCANABA, home-ported in Boston, MA. Then Ted was able to take a position as Port Engineer at the Naval Engineering Support Unit and Industrial Production Facility, also in Boston. Most recently Ted was stationed at the Coast Guard's Command, Control, and Communications Engineering Center in Portsmouth, VA where he worked as a System Engineer.