Awesome Con: 3D Panel Biographies

Moderator: Mason Peck, PhD (Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University)

Dr. Mason Peck is an Associate Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University and the Director of Cornell's Space Systems Design Studio. From late 2011 through early 2014 he served as NASA's Chief Technologist in Washington, DC. In that role, he acted as the agency's chief strategist for technology investment and prioritization and advocate for innovation in aeronautics and space technology. Dr. Peck received an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, a Master's degree in English at the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at UCLA. He has been a systems engineer and attitude-control specialist at Boeing, a Principal Fellow at Honeywell, and a consultant for government space-technology projects. Since 2004 he has been on the Faculty at Cornell University, where his lab focuses on fundamental research in space technology that can be advanced through flight experiments. Kicksat is the most recent. It is a crowd-funded technology demonstrator for satellites-on-a-chip. His lab has launched on average one spaceflight experiment a year since 2011 and plans to launch three more spacecraft by 2018. More information on this research is available at and

Lewis Sloter, PhD, PE (Associate Director of Materials & Structures at US Department of Defense)

Dr. Lew Sloter is the Department of Defense associate director for Materials and Structures within the Pentagon Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.  As senior materials technologist he is responsible for the technical oversight of DoD science and technology activities in materials, processes, and structures associated with current and future Defense systems and for technical assessments associated with materials, processes, materials manufacturing, and engineering applications.  He holds a B.S. in Metallurgy and Materials Science and History, and a Ph.D. in Metallurgy and Materials Science and Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University and an M.S. in Materials Engineering from Drexel University. Dr. Sloter has been a SiFi enthusiast since junior-high school, preferring hard science and speculative SiFi authors since his teens, noting that, as Clifton Fadiman said, “Science fiction is a kind of archaeology of the future.” He believes that 3D printing and additive manufacturing may be that new plateau or threshold for advances in design and manufacturing. With the caveat that new tools do not make obsolete current tools, he would like to emphasize the already enormous value of additive manufacturing and its potential for creating novel structures, chemistries, and hybrid materials.

Nathan Castro (PhD Candidate at GW’s Lab for Nanomedicine and Tissue Engineering)

Nathan Castro is a doctoral candidate at the George Washington University and has published several journal papers, book chapters, and conference proceedings related to 3D printing for biomedical applications.  His work is currently focused on the fabrication of bioactive scaffolds for tissue regeneration through the incorporation of biomimetic nanomaterials. He has always been fascinated with nature’s ability to self-heal; from a gecko’s ability to regenerate a severed limb to bacteria-infused self-healing cement.  Both, naturally occurring and human-facilitated events serve to spur his interests.

Jamie Gurganus (PhD Candidate and Associate Director of Engineering Education Initiatives at UMBC)

Jamie Gurganus (AKA Prof. G) works in the Mechanical Engineering department at UMBC, primarily focusing on engineering education and additive manufacturing. Her research addresses solving problems related to educating student engineers, teachers, and the community as they navigate through the K-12 and post-secondary pipe-lines. She researches and develops assessment methods, instruments, and metrics to inform engineering education practice and learning in both the K-12 and post-secondary environments. Jamie currently serves as an Instructor and the Associate Director of Engineering Education Initiatives at UMBC, where she teaches several mechanical engineering classes. Jamie also runs the Project Lead the Way in Maryland and FIRST Lego League program. In addition she collaborates with industry partners and consults throughout Maryland in STEM education. Jamie has been involved in Additive manufacturing (3D printing) for 12 years primarily focusing on design conceptualization for students as well as providing design advice to other departments on campus and to industry members. She has contributed to a variety of fields and applications which include biomechanics, film based props, education based tools, vacuum chambers, UAV’s, and more. Her love for science fiction started at a young age when she discovered she was named after the bionic woman. She attributes her interest in innovation from watching shows such as Star Trek and the Stargate series.

Scott Edelman (Notable Science Fiction and Comic Book Author)

Scott Edelman has published more than 85 short stories in many notable magazines and anthologies. Many of those stories can now be found in his collections What We Still Talk About, What Will Come After, and These Words Are Haunted.  Additionally, he worked for the Syfy Channel for more than thirteen years as editor of Science Fiction Weekly, SCI FI Wire, and Blastr, and was the founding editor of Science Fiction Age, which he edited during its entire eight-year run. He is a five-time finalist for the Bram Stoker Award and a four-time Hugo Award finalist for Best Editor. Early in his writing and editing career, he worked in the Marvel Comics Bullpen, where he scripted the adventures of Captain Marvel, The Scarecrow, and other heroes. He cannot remember a time when he has NOT been a science fiction fan. He has long been fascinated by the uses of replicating technology in fiction, both his own and others, as well as its real-life potentials, particularly as it relates to the future of cities, both as an architectural and sociological concept. Plus — who will we be should we reach a point when work is an option rather than a necessity?