Chairman of the Board
FIRST in Texas Foundation, Chief Technology Officer, NASA - Johnson Space Center
Mr. Culbert has been a long time supporter of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®) and has served on the FIRST in Texas Foundation board for many years. He recently accepted the position of board chairman to continue the statewide mission of bringing FIRST programs to even more students in Texas.
Mr. Culbert has spent more than 30 years developing technologies and systems for human spaceflight at the Johnson Space Center. He is currently Chief Technology Officer at NASA/Johnson Space Center where he is responsible for coordinating center level technology strategies for human spaceflight missions. During his career, he has managed the development of advanced technologies in robotics, automation, and software for Space Shuttle, Space Station, and advanced human missions. He has also led the agency’s Human Spaceflight Architecture team, developing concepts for human missions to deep space. He has led center wide teams to develop core information technology solutions such as consolidated networks and e-mail systems. He started his career as a flight controller in the Mission Control Center where he supported navigation analysis for a number of Space Shuttle missions.
Chief Marketing Officer, SwiftSensors, Inc.
Ray Almgren evangelizes the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education as a member of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®) in Texas board and member of the National FIRST® Executive Advisory Board. Almgren is also a member of engineering advisory boards including The University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University, and Tufts University.
Almgren is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at SwiftSensors, Inc. Prior to this position, he served as the Vice President of Marketing at National Instruments. Almgren holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
CEO, The Capital Factory
Joshua Baer helps people quit their jobs and become entrepreneurs at Capital Factory, Austin’s largest coworking space and most active investment fund. Josh founded his first startup in 1996 in his college dormitory at Carnegie Mellon University and now teaches a class at the University of Texas for student entrepreneurs. He was recently recognized as a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations Young Leaders Forum, and an Eisenhower Fellow.
Josh lives in Austin with his wife Amy and three children. The best way to reach him is on Twitter @joshuabaer
Vice-President, Global Operations Dell Technologies
Piyush Bhargava is a a vice-president, global operations at Dell Technologies. He leads a global organization responsible for procurement and partner management of Dell’s human capital, customer facing services, human-resource services, technology real estate, and marketing products and services. He also manages Dell’s global packaging procurement and engineering organizations. Mr. Bhargava has been with Dell for over 17 years and has managed strategic sourcing of various high-spend commodities over the years. He has worked for Dell in the US, China and Singapore and has held various senior leadership positions, including executive sponsor for Dell’s Asians in Motion Employee Resource Group. He is a recognized thought leader that excels in formulating strategies that enable organizations to leverage the supply chain and procurement functions as a source of competitive advantage.
He serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, FIRST in Texas Foundation, the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan and the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego. Prior to joining Dell, Mr. Bhargava held various management position at Intel, General Motors and Siemens. His interests include volunteering on non-profit boards focused on youth and STEM education as well as contributing to a sustainable and strengthening circular economy.
He received a bachelor of engineering degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the Birla Institue of Technology, a master of science in manufacturing systems engineering from Lehigh University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Art Cavasos
Superintendent, Harlingen CISD
Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos is a nationally recognized leader with almost 30 years of experience in education. He was appointed to the University of Texas College of Education Advisory Council.
In 2014, he was selected by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 100 top school leaders from across America to participate in the first-ever National ConnectED Superintendents Summit at the White House.
Dr. Cavasos was a math teacher in the Edinburg Consolidated ISD, and McAllen ISD math teacher, counselor, and principal. He also worked as the Director of Secondary Education in the Mission Consolidated School District. Before being named superintendent, Dr. Cavazos served as the district’s Interim Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent for Transformation and School Support. He joined HCISD in 2001 as the Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education.
Dr. Cavazos earned his Doctorate in Education from the University of Texas, Austin in April. He attended the University of Texas Pan-American, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Education degree with a Counseling and Guidance.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Dr. Cavazos is active in the community. He serves on the Boys and Girls Club board, Su Clinica Familiar Board, South Texas Emergency Care Foundation board, and the local UIL Executive Committee. At the State level, Cavazos serves on the UIL Waiver Review Board, State Academic Achievement Distinction Designation Committee (AADDC), the Texas Association of School Administrators Leadership Advisory Committee, Ford Next Generation Superintendent Council and the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium. He’s a member of the Rotary Club, Boy’s Scouts of America, and St. Alban’s Church.
R&D Director, IoT Software, National Instruments
Ray Hsu serves as the Director of IoT Software at National Instruments, where he leads R&D initiatives to expand the NI software platform by applying Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 concepts to automated test and measurement solutions. Hsu previously served leadership roles for NI’s Academic Program to improve engineering education from K-12 to higher education through hands-on learning.
Hsu has over 24 years of experience leading high-growth companies to create successful software products for a variety of industries. Prior to joining NI, Hsu served as the Vice President at @hand Corporation and was responsible for delivering enterprise mobility solutions for the Oil & Gas industry and government agencies. He was awarded multiple U.S. patents for his work in LabVIEW to detect and merge differences between graphical programs.
Hsu holds a master’s degree in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering from The University of Texas at Arlington.
Executive Director of TechNet
Caroline Joiner is the Executive Director of TechNet, the bipartisan policy and political network of innovation economy CEOs and senior executives. In this capacity, Joiner builds long-term relationships between technology leaders and policymakers and advocates a targeted policy agenda at the Texas Capitol and in states throughout the southeast region of the United States.
Joiner has almost two decades of experience in strategic research, communications and political and grassroots organization.
Prior to joining TechNet, Joiner was an independent government affairs consultant for a variety of corporate and political clients. From 2005 – July 2009, Joiner served as Vice President of the Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In this capacity, Joiner led a campaign to protect and defend IP and innovation around the world. She recruited, activated and led a 700-member coalition of companies and associations that successfully lobbied for the passage of major, bi-partisan IP enforcement legislation at the federal level and in targeted states. She also served as primary spokesman in the national and international media, including the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Washington Post, the Today Show and Good Morning America.
In 2005, Joiner was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the Executive Director for Trade Promotion at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Joiner also served as Chief of Staff at the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service from 2001 to 2003 where she oversaw the coordination of offices around the world and managed market research, trade missions and congressional outreach.
During the 2004 campaign cycle, Joiner was Chief of Staff to the Deputy Chairman at the Republican National Committee where she was responsible for the coordination of a $200 million budget and several programs, including research, major campaign events and the recruitment and grassroots deployment of more than 6,000 volunteers and lawyers. Joiner was also a political coordinator for Bush for President, Inc. and Victory 2000. Previously, she was Deputy Director of Research on the reelection campaign of then-Governor Bush and served on the staff of the Governor Bush Committee.
Joiner was raised in Amarillo and Odessa, Texas and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She, her husband, Ray, and their children reside in Austin, Texas.
Owner, Larry Lentz CPA
Larry is a Certified Public Accountant with twenty plus years of experience in public accounting. His practice is in the tax preparation and planning area. He is the owner of Larry Lentz, C.P.A. Larry also has experience in the auditing field. Larry is currently pursuing licenses that would allow him to expand his practice into the financial planning area.
He was introduced to FIRST® when his son joined the robotic team at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School in Austin, Texas. He volunteered and supported the LASA robotics team.
Larry earned a bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.
Vice President, Intel Corporation Managing Director of Intel Capital’s Platform Engineering Sector (PEG)
Hiren Majmudar is a Vice President at Intel Corporation and the Managing Director of Intel Capital’s Platform Engineering Sector (PEG). Hiren leads a cross-functional team that drives strategic transactions ranging from Licensing, Equity Investments, M&A, and other external partnerships in the area of Semiconductor IP (Intellectual Properties) that help PEG to create market leading SOCs. Hiren has 22 years of technical and management leadership in Chip Design, EDA/SW tools, Technical Marketing and Business Development. During his career, Hiren has led multiple corporate level initiatives in EDA, Semiconductor IP Ecosystem Development and Business Development.Hiren has been a robotics coach and volunteer for more than a decade and has mentored teams for JFLL, FLL, FTC and Best Robotics competitions in Texas. Hiren holds Masters in Electrical Engineering from State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Dr. Nolan Perez, M.D.
Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas
Dr. Nolan Perez is the CEO of Gastroenterology Consultants of South Texas, RGV Wellness Center, and GI Research of South Texas. He is board certified in Gastroenterology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology, and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine. He is also a Trustee for the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District since July 2010, and is currently the Board President.
Dr. Perez earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin and a Medical Doctorate from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). After medical school, he served in the US Navy as a Medical Corps Officer and received the Navy Commendation and Navy Achievement Medals.
Dr. Perez created RGV Mentors to inspire high school students, and serves on other boards including The Texas Lyceum, Lone Star National Bank Board of Directors, UT System Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee, UTRGV Development Board Executive Committee, The University of Texas at Austin Development Board, RGV Angel Network, Hooked for Life- Kids Gone Fish’n, RGV LEAD, Valley Baptist Medical Center Physician Leadership Council, Medical Director for Platinum Surgery Center, and Expert Panelist for the Texas Medical Board.
Advisor, Investor, Entrepreneur, STEM advocate
Steve is an advocate for STEM education and project based learning. He has been involved with FIRST since 2013. Steve Schaffer has more than 30 years of experience growing both startups and established Internet and software companies. He is currently an investor and advisor to start-up and established Technology and Internet companies.
Previously Steve founded Offers.com, located in Austin, Texas. Launched in February 2009, Offers.com saves consumers time and money by helping them find the best coupons, deals and offers from thousands of top online stores and brands. Steve was the CEO of Offers.com from the founding until the acquisition by Ziff Davis in December 2015. Prior to that Steve has been an entrepreneur, consultant and manager at several online and consumer software companies. Steve is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance.
Chief Engineer, Lockheed Martin
Don Schapker is a Chief Engineer and Director for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control located in Grand Prairie, Texas. Don has over 26 years of technical and leadership experience in the aerospace industry for a variety of military and commercial products. Don has been involved in FIRST® since 2008 and was part of the advisory board that established the North Texas FRC Regional in Dallas. Don has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida.
Vice President of Operations, U.S. Gulf Coast Site Director, Texas Operations President & CEO, Union Carbide Corporation - The Dow Chemical Company
Over the course of his 36-year career with The Dow Chemical Company, Rich Wells has held leadership roles in a wide range of areas, including Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (M&E), Business Leadership, EH&S (Environment, Health and Safety), Energy and Climate Change, and Public Policy.
Wells, a member of the Dow Operations Leadership Team, was named Vice President of U.S. Gulf Coast Operations and Site Director of Texas Operations in 2017. He is responsible for 10 advanced manufacturing sites, the Texas Innovation Center (a state-of-the-art R&D campus) and the Houston Dow Center (a strategic engineering and business hub).
As the Site Director for Dow Texas Operations, he leads one of the largest integrated petrochemical manufacturing sites in the world. The site employs more than 8,000 people, producing products that are used in industrial and consumer applications including food packaging, health care, automobiles, construction and electronics. He is also President and CEO of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and he sits on the UCC Board of Directors.