BEN ZOGHI, METM Director and Victor H. Thompson Professor


Ben Zoghi holds the Victor H. Thompson Endowed Chair Professorship in the Electronic Systems Engineering program and is director of the RFID/ Sensor Laboratory and the Master of Engineering Technical Management online program at Texas A&M University. His primary research interest is RFID/sensors for situational awareness and emotional intelligence for leadership development.

He has also served as the Leonard & Valerie Bruce Leadership Chair Professor, director of the Thomas and Joan Read Center, program coordinator in the Industrial Distribution Program, and associate department head for research at the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M.

A member of the Texas A&M faculty for 30 years, Zoghi has distinguished himself as a teacher, researcher and administrator, and has been honored for his teaching excellence by the College of Engineering and The Association of Former Students at Texas A&M. He has been the author and co-author of nine books, over 100 journal and conference papers, and has secured more than two dozen industry-funded projects.

Zoghi believes that, “We are each THE common denominator in the success or failure of everything we do. The fastest, surest way to improve our outcomes is to improve ourselves.” His passion is working with professionals by helping them develop their personal and professional leadership effectiveness by focusing on emotional intelligence (strengths, challenges and opportunities) and expanding their leadership capacities for optimal success.

Zoghi earned his Ph.D. in bioengineering/electrical engineering from Texas A&M, his Master of Science in electrical engineering from The Ohio State University and his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Seattle University. Having trained in emotional intelligence for leadership development at Case Western Reserve University, he is accredited by the Hay Group, one of the world’s leaders in developing emotional intelligence competencies, and is also certified by Multi-Health Systems in the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360) assessments.

KLAUS FINK, Professor of Practice


Dr.  Klaus Fink  joined  the Fortune Brands family of companies after completing his graduate work in environmental degradation and materials science  at  Case  Western Reserve  University.  He spent the past 25 years working with all aspects of consumer-based product development and innovation for three different operating companies within the corporation, ending as vice president of research, innovation and design engineering at ThermaTru Doors, Inc. During his tenure, Fink managed multimillion dollar impact projects in productivity enhancements, industry leading technology implementations and consumer product innovations, which included new-to-the-world products and technologies, such as LifeShine, the Revolution showerhead and the ICON door. As an executive, Fink managed the annual cross functional product launch portfolios of 20 to 30 new products for ThermaTru, and created the infrastructure to assure simultaneous introductions of multiple products. He was awarded two presidential excellence awards and several team achievement awards.

Also during his tenure at Fortune Brands, he developed separate stage gate based processes for product development and improvements for each entity. He has managed cross functional product development and project management activities for more than 15 years at the project team, portfolio and strategy levels.

Fink now leads StingRay Investment Partners, and is the president of Angler’s Port Marine, a marine dealership representing Lowe boats, Legend boats and Phoenix boats in the Ozarks.

TAYLOR HANKS, Professor of Practice

Hanks METM

Taylor Hanks is a contract negotiator for the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). In this role, Hanks primarily negotiates sponsored research agreements with TEES’ many government and industry partners to support researchers in all departments and disciplines throughout Texas A&M University  College of Engineering. Additionally, Hanks serves as lead negotiator for TEES’ Marine Vibrator  Joint  Industry  Project,  a  multi- million dollar research and development venture aimed at producing environmentally sound underwater seismic survey devices for the oil and gas exploration industry.

Hanks supports Texas A&M engineering through unfunded agreements as well. He has negotiated contracts to include TEES apps in the Apple App Store, to display TEES research in the Smithsonian, to commission artwork at Texas A&M Engineering facilities and negotiated numerous intellectual property license agreements.

Hanks chose a career in the legal field because he enjoys solving complex  problems  and  helping  others,  both  of which he has the opportunity to do each day at TEES. The most rewarding and satisfying features of his work are the moments when a deal that at one time seemed impossible to execute is finally agreed to, and a researcher is allowed  to move forward toward their research goals. Hanks also enjoys that his work allows him sneak peeks at new and emerging technologies, such as wearable technology and autonomous vehicles. Hanks believes that engineers— and the research and innovations they produce—are essential to advancing and bettering the world, and he is happy to do all he can to assist.

Hanks holds a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M and a Juris Doctor from The University of Mississippi School of Law.

JORGE LEON, Allen Bradley Professor


Dr. Jorge Leon holds a Ph.D. in industrial  engineering from  Lehigh University. He is the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution associate  department head for graduate studies, and directs the Strategic Operations Optimization and Planning Group at Texas A&M University. Previously he was the director of the manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology program and was plant manager for an appliance  manufacturing  company. His teaching and research interests are in the areas of operations optimization with specific consideration to solution robustness, partial information-sharing, rescheduling and multiple optimization  criteria.

He has  worked  extensively in the contexts of cyber-enabled manufacturing systems, scheduling, inventory  and  capacity  management  and quality, with applications relevant to manufacturers, distributors and logistics providers in global value chains. His projects have been funded nationally and internationally by governmental, state and private organizations. Leon has received several awards and recognitions for his work, including the Allen-Bradley Professorship, College of Engineering Dean Fellowship for International Programs, editor of two  academic  journals, board member of a research laboratory in Mexico, member  of the ETAC-ABET accreditation commission, Halliburton Professorship  and  3M Fellowship.

RONALD L. LERNER, Professor of Practice

Lerner METM

Ronald L. Lerner is president and managing director of engineering and project management for Advanced Inventive and Technical Design Services LLC. He is a highly successful management executive specializing in engineering design and project management with 460-plus projects completed successfully within multiple industries.

He has more than 40 years of experience in the fields of design, new product development, global product design, manufacturing, staffing, team leadership, operations, business development, risk assessment, P & L accountability, and training within the technology, industrial, commercial, consulting, domestic and international compliance, and retail industry spaces. Prior to his current position he was employed with Emerson Network Power, where he joined them as director of engineering and project management in 2014.

During this time he was appointed a member of the executive technology roadmap team responsible for corporate level technology direction. Prior to his role at Emerson, Lerner joined Texas Instruments in 1995 as an engineering manager. At Texas Instruments he was elected (for 14 years) a member of the technical staff while also serving as the corporate and semiconductor product safety council chairman.

Before relocating to Houston for Texas instruments in the 1990s, Lerner was employed as a product manager, engineering manager and quality manager for several additional companies. His four-plus decades of experience also include Tier 1 customer engagement and support, product roadmap development and business assessment. He is certified as both a master project manager and as an international project manager, as well as being appointed a Fellow with the American Academy of Project Managers. He holds additional accreditations as a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

MARC MARINI, Professor of Practice

Marini METM

Marc Marini is the director of research and development, DAQ and Control at National Instruments (NI). He has worked on the leading edge of engineering innovation for more than 25 years. He has served in multiple capacities within the industry, from research and development laboratories to the front lines of sales leadership.

In 1998, Marini joined NI, a global leader in providing hardware and software solutions for engineering,  as  a  business  development  manager  for the automated test industry. During his tenure in sales, Marini served as a primary resource for the development of production test and NI TestStand automated test software. Marini was soon promoted to the director of business development, where he successfully started the European business development organization for NI.

Marini transitioned to the NI research and development organization in 2003 and became responsible for the NI IMAQ vision, motion control and switch product lines. He also served on the board of directors for the Automated Imaging Association in 2005. And from 2006 to 2009, Marini managed the post-acquisition integration of two companies and merged them into a single subsidiary. From 2009 to 2013 Marini managed the engineering support services group, which is responsible for world-wide test engineering, metrology and regulatory compliance.

Marini currently manages product area supporting data acquisition, smart machine control, smart grid, test cell, and HIL applications.

Prior to joining NI, Marini held positions with other prominent companies, including DSC Communications, GenRad and Motorola. He earned his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1987.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, Professor of Practice

Thompson METM

Dr. Stephen Thompson holds a  Ph.D. in chemistry  from the University of Dundee, Scotland. Thompson has 30 years’ industry experience, with a focus on  technology,processes, operational methods and quality associated with electronics, procurement and distribution. He is a veteran industry professional with expertise in semiconductor processes, equipment fabrication, operations, supplier management and quality. Thompson has a proven record of driving world-class performance for global operations, quality and products through immediate improvement actions, defect  prevention,  model-based decision making and organizational commitment to performance management systems. He is  an  excellent  team  builder, analyst and problem solver, and an expert in implementing solutions in large, complex and time-critical organizations.

Thompson’s corporate career includes senior management experience in Europe, Asia and North America. Thompson has lived in the United States, Denmark, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia.

XIAOMIN YANG, Professor of Practice


Dr. Xiaomin Yang, senior licensing manager in the Licensing and Intellectual Property Division of Texas A&M University System Technology Commercialization, develops commercialization and intellectual property management strategies and leads the team that manages innovations in the areas of engineering and physical sciences for all Texas A&M System universities and agencies.

Yang has over 15 years of combined experience in technology commercialization, innovation portfolio management and research and development strategy. During his tenure, he has created $60 million of value through transforming technologies into new business opportunities. His recent research interest is in applying data-driven analytics and judgmental principles in a balanced manner to improve decision making processes. Yang is also passionate about collaborating with technology and business units to strategize the development, deployment and commercialization of novel solutions.

Yang received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Purdue University and an Master of Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley. Before joining Texas A&M University, Yang was a portfolio manager of British Petroleum’s (BP) Upstream Stream Technology Division where he implemented an award-winning technology management system and a strategic planning process to optimize the company’s $300 million technology portfolio. Prior to that, he was a technology transfer manager at the Energy Biosciences Institute, a strategic partnership involving the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and BP, where he managed an enterprise technology transfer team to assess, select and bring disruptive technologies into the energy industry.

Yang holds one granted patent and two pending patents and has authored 27 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings. He is interested in education, and taught environmental protection public courses for the American Petroleum Institute and developed intellectual asset management workshops for BP.