Alumni Mentors

Las Iguanas

Click on the name to see contact info and short bio for each mentor.

Team 1 - - Sheldon Buck and Bruce Nappi

Team 2 - - Todd Harland-White and Nina Ross and John Capello

Team 3 - - Peter Cheimets and Robert Ferrara and Gordon H. Pettengill

Team 4 - - Robert Schwartz and Winslow Burleson and Frank Ferguson

Team 5 - - Helen Chuah and Allan Kent

  Sheldon Buck   1959, Course 16 SB Aeronautical Engineer
  Team 1    
  Sheldon Buck is an aeronautical engineer who specializes in the development of aerospace control systems and geophysical instrumentation. He has experience fishing in remote inland areas of Alaska and camping in the wilderness areas. He has also visited the existing Alaska oil pileline. Sheldon is looking forward to working with you and Kip Hodges in the Fall.

Expertise: Aerospace engineering with an emphasis on missile guidance systems and aircraft and helicopter control. As a member of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory which became the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory 1959 until present, I worked on the Atlas, Titian 2, Minuteman, MX / Peacekeeper, Polaris, Posidon, and Trident Missile Programs. Experience as both an airplane and helicopter pilot trained at Pan American World Airways and Handscom Field.

Geophysical instrumentation engineer particularly in seismology and gravimetry assigned to the MIT Earth and Planetary Science Department 1968 to 1973 working for Prof. Nafi Toksoz and Prof. Frank Press, Department Head. Technical Director Lunar Traverse Gravimeter Experiment flown December 1972 on the Apollo 17 flight. Member Apollo 17 EVA Team at NASA Mission Control during the flight.


  Bruce Nappi   1969, MS Course 16
  Team 1    

Mr. Nappi has 30+ years of engineering experience developing high tech products. He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT in 1969.

In the 70's, Mr. Nappi worked at a number of government research facilities, including Oak Ridge National Lab, Sandia National Lab, Lawrence Livermore Lab, and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. He prepared the first compendium of nuclear radiation testing on weapon components for the Atomic Energy Commission (now Department of Energy). During this period, his focus was on advanced nuclear systems, both weapons and power production. His work involved systems analysis, materials development and very high reliability mechanical design. The mechanical design work included mechanisms, optics, lasers, explosives, fluidics, hydraulics, nuclear and thermal systems. He did pioneering work in reliability and quality methods

In the 80'ss, he moved into small business and did circuit hardware, embedded computer systems, robotics, machine tools, medical instruments, and sensors. Mr. Nappi has also performed in-depth work with nondestructive testing using X-ray systems, eddy current, electrostatics, acoustic, mechanical and optical testing methods.

In the 90'ss, his focus switched strongly to medical instruments and medical care delivery.

Since 2000, he has been a consultant helping small business startups and guiding ongoing small businesses to improve the efficiency of their operations.

Bruce has traveled extensively, to Europe, Scandinavia, Africa and around the U.S. Of special interest to undergrads, he worked in Alaska with the Eskimos, and did social work in Puerto Rico during his undergraduate summers.

The background that he would draw on to support this program is multifold. First, Bruce is an expert in instrumentation, so he can help with the environmental monitoring part of the effort. Second, he has a experience from Puerto Rico and a strong interest in innovative social structures. This can be applied to establishing the islands as a Scientific Preserve.

Bruce has a web site

Bruce Nappi
19 Plymouth Road
Weston, MA 02493
(781) 899-6653

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  Todd Harland-White   1976, Course 13-C
  Team 2    
  Todd Harland-White's career since MIT (XIII-C, '76) has involved designing and building manned and unmanned systems operating in the deep sea for Northrop Grumman Oceanic Systems, where he is now Chief Architect for Integrated Underwater Systems. Projects have included design of deepsea research submersibles and mini-subs, participation in teams designing new submarine and surface ship classes, developing underwater robotic systems, and working with both optical and acoustic sensors for probing and mapping the underwater space. In addition, Todd's company has expertise in sensor systems placed within the environment and operated from remote locations - underwater, airborne, or even in space - that may be of assistance in the development of Mission 2008 designs to monitor the status of installed environmental sensors.

This is Todd's fourth tour of duty as a 12.000 mentor, having served for Missions 2005, 2006, and 2007. Todd also serves as an MIT Educational Counselor possibly responsible for some of you being there at MIT to begin with!

Contact: Students will be best able to reach him via his home email ( or work email ( with home being preferred. Todd did manage to visit one of the classes last fall, but usually he will have to everything long distance from Annapolis MD.


  Nina Ross, J.D.   MIT S.B. Economics
  Team 2    
  phone: 617.247.4616    
  Nina Ross, J.D. was an alumni mentor in Mission 2007:Amazon Rainforest.

Nina Ross is a co-founder of Mithra Group. Prior to founding Mithra Group Ms. Ross was at Atlas Venture
where she represented the firm in its investments in more than 50 portfolio companies in the United States
and Europe, including Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Archemix, eRoom Technology, Phase Forward, Prestwick
Pharmaceuticals, and Wavesmith Networks (acquired by Ciena). Before joining Atlas Venture, Ms. Ross
practiced corporate law, both as founder of her own practice and as an attorney in the Business Practice
Group of the Boston-based firm of Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault. Ms. Ross?s practice focused on
representing entrepreneurs, companies and investors in public and private equity financings and mergers and acquisitions. Ms. Ross also served as an appellate prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Prior to attending law school, Ms. Ross was an economic consultant where she focused on quantifying
the cost of pollution. Throughout her career, Ms. Ross has taught in various capacities at universities
and high schools in the Boston area, including M.I.T., Boston College School of Law and the Media and
Technology Charter School.

Ms. Ross holds a J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, and a B.S. in Economics from
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Founding Partner
Mithra Group
205 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116

  John Capello   2004 MBA Sloan
  Team 2    
  phone: (617) 753-2064    

John Capello is an Associate in McKinsey's Boston office. Prior to McKinsey, John was the general manager of Abuzz, a division of New York Times Digital, and a consultant for start-ups in the Boston area.

John received his MBA from MIT Sloan in February 2004 and an undergraduate degree in Social Studies and Music from Harvard College in 1996.

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  Peter Cheimets   1978 Course 2 ME, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory - Smithsonian Institution
  Team 3    
  Peter Cheimets is a project engineer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. His specialties include mechanical design, the development of dynamic control systems, complex project management, and just plain problem solving. He has spent time traveling in Antarctica and Alaska. This is his third tour of duty as a 12.000 mentor, having served for Mission 2005:Atlantis and Mission 2007:ANWR.

Peter has actually been to the Galapagos (2-3 weeks in 1972).


  Robert Ferrara   1967 Course 2
  Team 3    
  Phone: (617) 253-7495
  email: Home page:
  In April of 2004, I began a really interesting new job at MIT working with alumni and active members of MIT's fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, or the FSILG community as it is known here. The new position is titled Director, FSILG Alumni Relations. Being at MIT is especially rewarding because I am an alumnus of the class of 1967 Today the Institute is an even more vital and stimulating campus than at any time in its history. My previous position at MIT was Director of I/T Delivery in the Information Services & Technology department. I still maintain a partial appointment in the IS&T department, so we can collaborate on activities with the New England Regional Computing Program (NERCOMP), a dynamic consortium of 180 higher ed institutions in the Northeast, of which I am currently a board member and treasurer. Before this, I worked in Raytheon's Electronic Systems and Missile Systems Divisions for many years.

Director, FSILG Alumni Relations
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue W59-200
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139


  Gordon Pettengill   1967 Course 2
  Team 3    
  Dr. Gordon H. Pettengill first came into prominence for his discovery in 1965 of the unexpected 2/3 spin/orbital period resonance of the planet Mercury, using radar astronomical techniques, although his name is also closely linked to much of the development of radar astronomy since its early years in the late 1950's. Beginning with the first application of coherent earth-based radar to studies of the Moon in 1959, his observations have embraced Mercury, Venus, Mars, several asteroids and comets, the Galilean satellites of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. He was the Principal Investigator for the Radar Mapper Experiment carried out on the Pioneer Venus Orbiter from 1978 through 1981, providing for the first time a comprehensive view of the global surface of Venus. Since then he has been the Principal (scientific radar) Investigator for the Magellan (Venus-radar-mapping) Mission that was launched in May, 1989, and has since mapped nearly the entire Venus surface at a resolution of a few hundred meters.

Dr. Pettengill received the B.S. in physics from MIT in 1948, and the Ph.D. in physics from U.C., Berkeley, in 1955. Since then he has been affiliated primarily with MIT, first with Lincoln Laboratory and then, from 1970 to 1995, as a Professor in the MIT Dept. of Earth, Atmosphere and Planetary Sciences (from 1984 to 1990, jointly with the MIT Physics Dept.). Leaves of absence enabled him to serve as Associate Director, 1963 - 1965, and as Director, 1968 - 1970, of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. From 1984 to 1990, he was Director of the MIT Center for Space Research. Prof. Pettengill retired from MIT in 1995, but has remained active in research since then, primarily with the Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter experiment aboard the Mars Global Surveyor, currently in orbit around that planet.

Dr. Pettengill is a member of both the American and National Academies of Science. In 1980 - 1981, he spent a sabbatical year at the University of Sydney (Australia) as a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. During the fall of 1991, he was the Thomas Gold Lecturer at Cornell University. In 1994, he was awarded the Magellanic Premium of the American Philosophical Society, and in 1998 he received the Whitten Medal from the Am. Geophysical Soc..

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  Robert Schwartz   1958 SB Electrical Engineering
  Team 4    
  Phone: (617) 527-5316
  Bob Schwartz has worked as a Senior Engineer at Aerospace Research, Inc. His hobbies include travel with a strong environmental interest. He has spent many months on Palmyra Island in the Central Pacific, running a field site and teaching military personnel there to respect plants and animals. The island is now owned by the Nature Conservancy. Schwartz also has visited the Galapagos, where he observed the ways in which the Ecuadorian government is trying to restrict access to preserve the ecology.


  Winslow Burleson   Ph.D. candidate MIT Media Lab
  Team 4    
  Phone: 617-308-5875

Winslow Burleson has helped teams for the past several years and has been involved in two areas that are highly relevant to this work. First, he has been involved in context aware computing, that is the development of sensors and the placement of those sensors in environments to ascertain relevant conclusions about these environments. While many of these have been in human environments some have been in natural environments and that experience may be relevant. Secondly, he has been involved in the policy issues surrounding Antarctica and even has helped propose Antarctica as part of the Unesco World Heritage site. This experience would be relevant to the policy issues of designating the Galapagos as a World Scientific Preserve.

Currently Winslow is a Ph.D. candidate in the Context-Aware Computing Group ( at the MIT Media Lab ( Before coming to MIT he worked in the USER Group ( at IBM's Almaden Research Centerís department of Computer Science. After completing a Master of Science degree at Stanford University's Mechanical Engineering Product Design Program ( he served as a lecturer on brainstorming, creativity, and visual thinking within that department. Prior work included curriculum development at the SETI Institute, ( co-principal investigator on the Hubble Space Telescope's Investigation of Binary Asteroids (, and consultant to UNICEF ( and the World Scout Bureau ( on Healthy Lifestyles for Youth. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics from Rice University (


  Frank Ferguson   Ph.D. candidate MIT Media Lab
  Team 4    
  Phone: 781-862-2691    

Frank Ferguson - Born Ames, IA, September 11, 1926
Schools: Ames Pubic Schools (Roosevelt / Central JHS Iowa State University, B.S., 1950 (Technical Journalism, Education & Psychology) MIT, S.M. – Management, 1959
Family: Married Mitzi Yoshii, math/stat major at Iowa State, in 1952. Four kids (daughter and three sons, in that order)

Residence: Since 1960: 8 Holton Rd. Lexington, MA 02421. P: 781-862-2691

VoIP: Skype: << frankatca >> Ring my chimes!
Current focus and passion: Inspiring quality in all that we do and all that we are at Curriculum Associates, largely guided by the work of Dr. William Glasser
Careers: Too many.
1950-51 - Assistant cameraman, Iowa State College film unit
1951-57 – Syracuse University Film Project in Istanbul & Teheran
1959-61 – Asst. to VP Atomic Instruments and Corporate Planning at Baird-Atomic, Inc., Cambridge, MA
1961-69 – Sales Manager, Ealing Corporation, Cambridge
1969-76 – President BOSE Corporation, Framingham, MA
1976-04 – President & CEO Curriculum Associates, Inc. [ See us at ] The last (and only remaining) of the five founders of CA.
Interests: cooking, hiking, string figures, Japanese netsuke, angel investing
Languages: English, Farsi, some French; Need to learn: Spanish & Cambodian

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  Helen Chuah   2002 SB Course 7
  Team 5    
  Helen Chuah graduated from MIT in 2002 with a bachelor's in biology, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in biotechnology in Cambridge United Kingdom.


  Allan Kent   1963 S.B. Physics, 1969 S.M. Electrical Engineering (Systems
  Team 5    
  Phone: 508-381-0582    

Allan Kent has worked in industry and on personal projects with a wide variety of
technologies Electrical/Electronic, Logic Hardware, Software, Power
transmission (electrical, hydraulic, etc.), Water Supply, Structures, etc.
for various purposes. He has worked at the intersection of multiple technologies and he is interested
in the interaction of technology and public policy.

As hobbies, he has interests in telephony (and data communications), high-voltage electric power transmission, unusual solutions to the problems of civilization (e.g. composting toilets), and "industrial archeology" (old mills, railroads, canals, etc.). He has visited much of North America and parts of Europe for business and pleasure. He has interest (but not much direct experience) in governmental regulation and projects and non-governmental organization (NGO) projects.

He is available via e-mail and fax (still), telephone (usually in the evening), and, depending on the vagaries of work, in person (during the day or evening). At the moment, his schedule is generally open, but this can

Allan Kent
5 Mill River Dr.
Mendon MA 01756
tel: +1-508-381-0582
fax: +1-508-381-0584

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