Our Team

Founded in 2015 for the Amazon Picking Challenge, PickNik’s team now has over 302 years of combined experience in the field of robotics and automation, bringing together deep academic background of robotic theory and robotics software development experience.

Dave Coleman, PhD

CEO / Roboticist

PhD Computer Science at CU Boulder focusing on motion planning and Mechanical Engineering B.S. at Georgia Tech. Dave has 13 years experience working in the field of robotics automation and is a leader in the open source MoveIt and ROS communities. His insights into robot-agnostic platforms for different morphologies, theoretical approaches, and different end-user requirements give him a well-rounded understanding for powerful robotic software. He has worked and consulted for all types of robotics companies including Google Robotics, Open Robotics, and Willow Garage.

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Mark Moll, PhD

Director of Research

PhD Computer Science Carnegie Mellon University and M.S. Computer Science University of Twente (the Netherlands). Mark has worked in robotics for more than 20 years, with a focus on motion planning. He has been leading the development of the Open Motion Planning Library, which is used by MoveIt as the default planning library. He has over 80 peer-reviewed publications. He has extensive experience deploying novel algorithms on a variety of robotic platforms, ranging from NASA's Robonaut2 to autonomous underwater vehicles and self-reconfigurable robots.

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Nathan Brooks, PhD

Chief Technology Officer

PhD and M.S. Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, B.S. Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at University of Tulsa. Nathan's graduate research focused on developing team planning techniques and interaction strategies improving operator supervision of large robot teams. Through this research, he has extensive experience with simulation platforms and field deployment logistics for unmanned vehicles on land, sea, and air.

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Lynn Regnier, CPA

Director of Finance

CPA licensed in Colorado with an M.S. in accounting from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Over her career Lynn has worked for small and very large organizations in both business and scientific roles. Lynn brings six years of accounting experience from a mix of public accounting and early stage startups. Lynn's passion is in helping businesses grow by providing reliable financial information to help make informed decisions.

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Sean Kolk

Director of Business Development

B.S. International Affairs in Counter Terrorism Theory from Georgia Tech. Trained as a design engineer who's built electro-mechanical tools, integrated digital systems, and lead product market strategy in human-centered services. He's worked in biotech labs, on the shop floor, and coordinated disaster relief efforts in the developing world. When not putting in creative energy he leads sailing, paragliding, and mountaineering expeditions.

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Jonathan Fries

Director of Operations

B.S in Computer Science from the University of Iowa. Jonathan has 25 years of experience in software development, working in both consulting and product settings. He’s spent the last 15 years especially focused on delivering outsourced software solutions for customers and developing professional organizations that deliver quality software and excellent customer experiences. Jonathan believes that strong communication and excellent technical capability form the backbone of developing quality solutions.

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Bill Mather, PhD

Senior Project Manager

PhD from Drexel University. Bill is a PhD roboticist with diverse robotics experience, primarily in the assisted living robot space, but also in semiconductor packaging, modular robotics, and space technologies. An expert in robotics product design, Bill has experience in how development can mesh with customer needs and use-case definitions, so cutting-edge capability can deliver utility to customers. Bill has a PhD from Drexel University and knows too much math to be very useful.

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Andy Zelenak, PhD

Senior Controls Engineer

PhD from the University of Texas, B.S. ME/EE from Colorado School of Mines. Andy has focused on bringing a more responsive, delicate touch to industrial robots, with emphasis on control theory. Andy has collaborated with roboticists in the nuclear, oil/gas, and aerospace domains. Some of his favorite projects were joint current based collision detection, balancing an egg between Motoman SIA5 manipulators, and design of teleoperation software for a dual-arm Clearpath robot.

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Sina Aghli, PhD

Controls Scientist

Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Colorado Boulder. Sina specializes in robot modeling and design of control and planning algorithms. He has worked on a variety of robotic platforms from manipulators to self-driving vehicles for over 15 years. Prior to PickNik, he held a position as a faculty of CU Boulder.

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Henning Kayser, MS

MoveIt Chief Architect

M.S. Computer Science at University of Hamburg with focus on motion planning and machine learning, B.S. Computer Science with focus on distributed systems. Broad experience with autonomous robots and scenarios with unstable dynamics like liquid pouring or pushing of objects. Expertise in motion planning, trajectory optimization, constrained and Cartesian path planning as well as 3D-perception and image processing. Winning team participant in the IROS 2018 Mobile Manipulation Hackathon.

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Tyler Weaver

Senior Software Engineer

B.S. Comp Engineering from DeVry Univ. Tyler has a talent for C++ and Python programming, having created many different software applications over the past decade. In 2013 he supported Special Operations in Afghanistan, and at DeVry Tyler built a stereo vision sensor for a robot competing in the CO Robotics Challenge. He has since developed software defined radio libraries for wireless communication and sensing applications. In that position, Tyler worked on a large legacy codebase adding new signal types and improving the accelerated math library.

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Griswald Brooks, MS

Senior Robotics Engineer

M.S. Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Controls and Robotics from NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. Inspired from a young age by the advances in robotics at MIT Leg Lab, Griswald pursued the field following service in the US Navy. Development of ROS and the PR2 at Willow Garage drew him to the Bay Area, where he was a key contributor to autonomous docking, navigation, and perception at companies such as Fetch, Neato, and Bossa Nova Robotics. Having designed and developed automated on-robot testing systems, he is experienced in delivering robust, production quality robot software.

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Marq Rasmussen, MS

Senior Robotics Engineer

M.S. Mechanical Engineering from University of Utah with focus on robotics and motion planning, B.S. Mechanical Engineering with focus on control theory, system modeling and a minor in Computer Science. Wide ranging experience working with robotics from human controlled exoskeletons and custom snake robots to industrial grade robot workcells and autonomous forklifts. Marq has 13+ years working with robotics systems from concept to prototype to production for companies including Intel, Nike, Amazon and DARPA. Marq's recent work has focused on a MoveIt! based high speed pick and place application and leading an AI based vision team in developing a fully autonomous ecommerce order fulfillment system.

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Davide Faconti

Technical Robotics Manager

B.S. Electrical engineering Politecnico di Torino. Davide has worked as a Robotics Engineer, Project Manager, and Developer more than a decade.

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Giovanni Remigi, MS

Senior Software Engineer

M.S. in Computer Science at University of Padua. Giovanni has worked as a Developer, Analyst and Solution Consultant in several fields for more than 20 years. His favorite languages are Modern C++/Qt and Java. He loves math and computer graphics. Giovanni is a professional photographer, specializing in 3D lenticular photography.

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Kyle Cesare

Senior Software Engineer

B.S. Computer Science from Oregon State University with a focus on robotics. Kyle has worked on legged robots for 7+ years on a variety of quadruped and humanoid projects, previously at Walt Disney Imagineering R&D. He specializes in hardware integration, low-level actuator control, motion planning, dynamic simulation, and 2D/3D data visualization.

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Jafar Abdi

Software Engineer

B.S. Mechatronics Engineering from Karabuk University. Jafar started as an embedded system enthusiast before getting interested in robotics and software development; his favorite programming languages are C++ and Python, while he is also a fan of "Modern C++", a math lover, and believer in life-long learning.

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Tahnee Foley

People & Talent Manager

Tahnee has over 20 years experience in business operations over a variety of industries including architecture and advertising. She was the Administrative Manager to the Design Team for the 2010 Olympic Village in Vancouver, Canada, a project that included coordinating over a dozen offices working to design and build 24 buildings in four years. Her passion is to see an efficient and effective organization while ensuring client satisfaction.

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Jere Liukkonen, MS

Robotics Engineer

M.S. Automation and Control Systems Engineering from Aalto University with a focus on mechatronics. Jere is a C++ enthusiast with background in computer vision and image processing. Before becoming a full-time roboticist, he worked with challenging computer vision problems with the most recent being analyzing medical images using deep neural networks.

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Abishalini Sivaraman, MS

Robotics Engineer

M.S. Computer Engineering and B.S. Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University (concentration in AI, ML and VR application development). Abi got into robotics primarily through extra curricular activities. A tinkerer by nature, she learned mechanical and electrical CAD software, machining, 3D printing, soldering, ROS and computer vision techniques while working on building an AUV and automating a Ford Focus.

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Joe Schornak, MS

Robotics Engineer

M.S. Robotics Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and B.S. Mechanical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with minors in Computer Science and Robotics. Joe's work has focused on perception-driven robotics applications in ROS2, especially with systems that move on and around previously-unseen surfaces. His graduate research explored guiding surgical robots using MRI data and other real-time volumetric imaging techniques.

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Cassidy Elliott, MS

Technical Project Manager

M.S. Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas, B.S. Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alabama. Cassidy’s graduate research focused on increasing the automation of remote contact tasks using affordance templates with compliance. Cassidy brings extensive experience coordinating with oil and natural gas companies for the use of robotics by novice users in hazardous environments.

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Denis Stogl, PhD

Robotics Scientist

PhD in Engineering (Department of Informatics) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology focusing on physical human-robot interaction and developing RoboTrainer - mobile robot for strength and coordination training. M.S. and B.S. in Electrical and Control Engineering at University of Zagreb, Croatia. Denis has more than a decade of experience with ROS in different fields. He is a real "T"-Engineer with an excellent understanding of mechanics, electronics, and software to integrate and run robots under ROS. He designed controllers for various industrial and mobile-robot applications.

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Vatan Aksoy Tezer, MS

Robotics Engineer

M.S. Computer Science and Engineering from Sabanci University, with a focus on vision-based automated test case generation for self-driving vehicles, B.S. Astronautical Engineering from Istanbul Technical University, with a focus on localization of GPS-denied UAV systems. Vatan has a passion for robotics and has worked with various autonomous robotic systems, solving challenging vision and navigation problems for aerial, underwater, and ground robots. In his spare time, Vatan mentors a high school robotics team and plays chess.

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Jennifer Cannon

Executive Assistant

Jenn has over 10 years of well-rounded experience as an executive assistant and office manager. Over her career, she has worked in healthcare, construction, finance, and technology. Jenn has worked in small start-ups, big corporations, and everything in between. Jenn’s passion is to make sure all the p’s and q’s of projects, processes, and people are sorted out and handled efficiently.

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Jochen Sprickerhof

Robotics Engineer

Diploma in Applied System Science from Osnabrück University (Germany), with over 20 years of experience in open source and robotic software development and maintenance. Jochen has worked on everything from kernel and hardware drivers, to operating systems and middleware, up to web development with a focus on robotic perception, mapping and ROS, both in academia and industry.

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Anthony Baker

Software Engineer

B.S. Computer Engineering from the University of South Florida. Anthony is a trained C++ and Python programmer who has spent the majority of his professional career developing Qt Applications. He developed an interest in robotics during his years of school and picked it up as a hobby, eventually turning it into his profession.

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Jack Center, MS

Controls Engineer

M.S. Aerospace Engineering at University of Colorado Boulder with a focus in autonomous control systems. B.S. Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Jack’s passion for robotics began while mentoring a high school robotics team during his time in the United States Marine Corps. After his service, he pursued his passion through graduate research which focused on developing novel data fusion-aware motion planning algorithms for use on mobile robotic platforms operating in search and rescue environments.

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Sencer Yazici

Robotics Engineer

B.S. Control and Automation Engineering from the Istanbul Technical University with a focus on motion planning and control. Sencer has worked on various robotics projects including aerial, ground, and underwater vehicles solving challenging localization and navigation problems with ROS. He also has experience in embedded development, particularly based on RTOS. In his spare time, Sencer camps, mentors an autonomous underwater vehicle team and plays the electric guitar.

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Stephanie Eng, MASc

Controls Engineer

M.A.Sc. Mechanical Engineering and B.Eng. Biomedical & Mechanical Engineering from Carleton University with a focus on dynamics and bipedal locomotion. Stephanie’s experience includes engineering robots for reactor inspection in nuclear power facilities and developing dynamic simulation tools for robotic manipulators destined for space. Stephanie has also collaborated on projects in healthcare technology and worked on SLAM, ROS, and 3D printing projects.

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Cory Crean

Robotics Engineer

B.S. Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Cory's undergraduate research focused on multibody dynamics, in particular on simulating intermittent contact between rigid bodies. He has spent much of his career working on simulation environments for multibody systems, such as robots or military ground vehicles. Outside of work, Cory enjoys reading, cooking, and hiking.

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Ezra Brooks

Full Stack Web Developer

Ezra has over five years of experience in software engineering, and has always had a passion for building user interfaces. He’s spent most of his career supporting spaceflight, which led him back to his love of robotics he’d discovered while competing in FIRST in high school. Ezra enjoys the variety of working across all levels of the stack, all the way from web applications and cloud architecture to serial communication or raw packets over a socket.

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Chris Thrasher

Software Engineer

Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University. Chris is a robotic software engineer with 6 years of experience in ground vehicle robotics from small inspection robots to 10-ton trucks. His engineering interests include control theory and high quality C++ code. In his free time he likes to work with 2D graphics and go skiing.

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Sebastian Jahr

Robotics Engineer

M.S. Mechatronics and Information Technology with specialization in robotics and B.S. Mechatronics and Information Technology at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Sebastian is experienced with using C++ and ROS2 to realize various robotic applications. His previous work includes the development of MoveIt2's hybrid planning feature. He is passionate about robotics and manipulation and eager to deepen his knowledge in motion planning and control.

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Wyatt Rees

Robotics Intern

Pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Science with a focus on human-robot interaction at CU Boulder and B.A. in Computer Science and Physics at Wesleyan University. Wyatt is passionate about robotics interface design and is eager to learn more about dynamic autonomy for teleoperation and manipulation. As a student researcher, he has gained C++, ROS, and Unity experience through his development of haptic feedback controllers and virtual and augmented reality interfaces for robot motion planning.

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Paul Gesel

Robotics Intern

Paul received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of New Hampshire. His research focuses on robot Learning from Demonstration for trajectory planning. Paul is experienced in implementing robotics control algorithms via C++, Python, MATLAB, and ROS. He enjoys learning new concepts and is enthusiastic about robot autonomy. His hobbies include game development, 3D graphics, personal projects, and exercise.

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Advisors

Brian Gerkey, PhD

Advisor

Brian is CEO of Open Robotics, where they develop and drive adoption of open source software in robotics. Before Open Robotics, he was Director of Open Source Development at Willow Garage, where they focus primarily on ROS. Before Willow, he was a computer scientist in the SRI Artificial Intelligence Center. Before that, he was a post-doctoral scholar in Sebastian Thrun‘s group in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab. And before that, he did his PhD with Maja Matarić in the USC Interaction Lab.

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Jill Berman

Advisor

Jill is a data-driven business operations leader helping companies scale. Her 25 year career includes tenures at Sun Microsystems (exit: Oracle), Informix (exit: IBM), and Ooyala (exit: Telstra) running technical marketing programs, building professional services organizations, managing customer success teams, and leading company operations. With a focus on OKR / KPI-centric business development, process design / optimization, and sales workflows / automation, she helps businesses prepare for growth.

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Aaron Edsinger

Advisor

Aaron is CEO and Cofounder at Hello Robot Inc. He has a passion for building robots and robot companies. He has founded four companies focused on commercializing human collaborative robots. Two of these companies, Meka Robotics and Redwood Robotics, were acquired by Google in 2013.
As Robotics Director at Google, Aaron led the business, product, and technical development of two of Google’s central investments in robotics.
Aaron received his Ph.D. from MIT CSAIL in 2007.

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Robin Athey

Advisor

Robin guides leaders and teams to thrive in complexity and change. She brings 35+ years’ experience across 27 countries as an executive coach, facilitator, thought leader at Deloitte, VP Cole-Haan, consultant Kurt Salmon. Clients include startup founders, Techstars, and leaders at ABB, Microsoft, HP, IBM, Google, MIT, Delta Airlines, Eli Lilly, Fujitsu, Banco Santander, Change Healthcare, Girls Scouts USA. Taught core leadership course for Simmons MBA, Fellow at Harvard University Learning Innovations Laboratory (LILA).

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Jim Stevenson

Advisor

Jim is a highly experienced, proven, inspirational, and battle-hardened leader focussing on business growth and value creation. He has 20 years of experience in leadership, strategy, product, marketing, and technology globally across media, retail, CPG, spirits, finance, healthcare, and marketing services. His experience includes board and c-suite experience driving strategy and transformation, creating and leading fund-raising strategies.

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Gaby Adam

Marketing Communication

Gaby (pronounced with a long “a”) is a world-leading expert in marketing communications. She has held executive roles at two of the world’s largest and most renowned agency networks, DDB Worldwide Communications and Waggener Edstrom (now WE), for seven years each. For more than 15 years, she has been overseeing her own firm, By the Sea Communications, LLC. Her clients have included major global corporations, businesses headquartered abroad and countless U.S.-based companies of all sizes. Among many other business achievements, she has negotiated media coverage for clients in almost all of the world’s most prestigious media outlets. Her work is inspired, creative, and impactful. Clients often comment that they appreciate her no-nonsense, authentic approach that combines smart strategy with near-flawless implementation.

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Mike Hurowitz

Advisor

Michael is CEO of Orbital Micro Systems and he is a serial entrepreneur and startup advisor. Michael's expertise is in research commercialization, bringing new technologies from the lab to market. He has delivered over $24B of space missions, $7B of commercial aircraft, and 127 new products developed working with 35 Fortune 500 companies and almost 60 startups, 14 federal agencies, and 16 university research groups.

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Jeff Rose

Advisor

Jeff is a Partner of Origin Rose, a strategic consulting company. Over the last 3 years, he also led ThinkTopic, a Boulder based AI company, as Co-founder and CEO. ThinkTopic has worked with a wide range of organizations, from the Asian Development Bank to Conde Nast and Digital Globe. Before starting ThinkTopic, Jeff was one of the first research engineers at (Google) DeepMind, where he collaborated with neuroscientists to develop novel machine learning algorithms.

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Mission
Statement

Expand the frontier of robotics through open and accessible software for any hardware, for any task.