Rising 30

Revolutionizing the Industry

Those looking for the future of advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML) need look no further. Rising 30 honors AML’s emerging leaders—those bringing exceptional leadership and innovative thinking to bear on the industries’ toughest challenges.

Each year, 30 honorees under the age of 30 are selected and celebrated, drawing attention to those with the collaboration, energy, and creativity to change the way the world does business.

Rising 30 Class of 2023

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Hired in 2022 to drive internal communications and employee engagement for Toyota in Princeton, Caeli had seen her responsibilities expand just a year into her role to include four other states … and even that falls short of her ambition. “In five years, my goal is to have redefined what engagement and communication looks like at Toyota’s North American manufacturing sites,” says the 2016 Purdue University management grad. Caeli’s superiors say she listens to what’s happening on the manufacturing floor and creates communications that are not only clear but meaningful to employees, proving to be an essential asset in a time of change.

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After four years working his way up the ladder as an engineer at RV manufacturer Jayco Inc., in 2021 Austin found himself with a unique opportunity: to help build a new RV line from scratch at start-up Ember Recreational Vehicles. The Taylor University engineering grad jumped at the chance, embracing not only his love for all things mathematical and mechanical but also his passion for problem solving. Since Ember launched, Austin has worked with the design team to create 19 RV models. Ember founders praise Austin for being a “quiet listener” who absorbs market information and delivers ideas that consistently challenge the status quo.

Caeli Bislich

Manager, NAMC Regional Communications

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana

Bio

Austin Borg

Engineering Manager/Lead Design

Ember Recreational Vehicles

Bio

Austin Borg

Engineering Manager/Lead Design

Ember Recreational Vehicles

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Michael pretty much grew up on the water, spending countless hours either in a boat or on skis. He continued that passion at Purdue University by serving as captain of the water ski team (while earning a degree in industrial engineering technology) and in his career by taking a job with Smoker Craft in 2016. While the company has been building boats for more than a century, Michael has moved it into the new century, introducing Industry 4.0 processes and heading up the company’s automation development initiatives. The result? Company leaders say he has dramatically reduced production time and increased quality and consistency, adding, “Michael revolutionized a manufacturing process that has not changed in over 75 years.”

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Morgan was working as a sales manager for a solar energy company in 2020 when a colleague invited them to be the second employee of a collaborative robot automation startup. Although the Indiana University informatics grad had no experience working with robots, they proved to be a quick study, not only researching how to program robots and automation systems but learning how to build them. During their time as a project manager, Morgan played a key role in the success of the startup, from researching and implementing innovative technologies to leading teams and delivering projects, proving themselves instrumental in everything from design to product delivery. Morgan is currently pursuing a graduate degree from Purdue University, exploring the field of technology and automation.

Michael Boyle

Process Engineer

Smoker Craft

Bio

Morgan Chang

Former Project Manager, Graduate Student

Purdue University

Bio

Morgan Chang

Former Project Manager, Graduate Student

Purdue University

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To say John went from curious logistics rookie to passionate industry champion in a few years would be an understatement. The IUPUI business grad was still attending classes and working in retail when he “stumbled upon the logistics industry” at Backhaul Direct. While his employers praise his workplace achievements and continuous drive for improvement, they suggest his greatest impact might come outside the workplace. Recognizing the need for a stronger logistics worker pipeline, John proposed that Backhaul Direct complement its college internship program with K-12 outreach. Now the company works with local school systems and is exploring other partnerships to introduce kids to the logistics industry, and the logistics industry to future employees.

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After less than a year at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, James was challenged to solve a “massive problem” at the Lafayette plant: too much expensive cardboard waste. His success is tangible: Over the three years that he has led the packaging reduction program, the company has saved more than $5 million in cardboard waste charges. But James didn’t achieve this result simply through the knowledge acquired by earning an industrial engineering degree from Purdue University. According to his employers, James went beyond technical expertise to demonstrate strengths in leadership, organization, communication and problem solving to earn respect “at all levels” within the company.

John Coleman

Manager of Strategic Accounts

Backhaul Direct

Bio

James Coppock

Packaging Reduction Specialist

Subaru of Indiana Automotive

Bio

James Coppock

Packaging Reduction Specialist

Subaru of Indiana Automotive

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As Product Marketing Manager, Ashley helps Endress+Hauser clients across the county keep their plants running safely and smoothly. In a little less than eight years with the company, the Ivy Tech mechanical engineering grad has established herself as a strategic thinker who’s more than happy to roll up her sleeves and deliver client solutions on manufacturing floors where few women are found. Ashley’s employers describe her as an industry trailblazer and champion for women and – in a nod to her Syrian American heritage – minorities. She also is passionate about championing the importance of community college education, speaking recently at a national Society of Women Engineers on the value of her community college degree.

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When you look at the 2023 Honda CRV, you can see Julia’s work in the rear fascia. As the product engineer leading the development of weld, paint, plastics and assembly operations for that system, the Marquette University mechanical engineering grad ensured that it delivered in terms of form, fit and function and that it aligned with the automobile’s overall design. But Julia’s impact goes even further: Having also worked in mass production problem solving and chassis engineering, Julia is credited by her bosses with contributing to overall success by combining technical analysis and problem solving with a collaborative work style and hands-on approach.

Ashley David

Product Marketing Manager

Endress+Hauser

Bio

Julia Dodson

Manufacturing Quality Engineer

Honda Development and Manufacturing of America – Indiana Auto Plant

Bio

Julia Dodson

Manufacturing Quality Engineer

Honda Development and Manufacturing of America – Indiana Auto Plant

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As a manufacturing engineer, Riana played a pivotal role in setting up and ensuring the smooth operations of a new manufacturing facility at 38th Street and Sheridan Avenue in Indianapolis for the contract production of medical devices for Cook Medical. It was a role she seized with passion because the facility brings much-needed economic opportunities to the neighborhood where she grew up. To support Goodwill’s mission of helping people who face barriers to gaining employment, Riana also has developed job aids for people with disabilities, low educational attainment or criminal records. “Riana has opened opportunities for individuals in our community who otherwise would not have been able to have a career in medical device manufacturing,” her nominator says.

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Joining Heritage Research Group after completing her doctorate in analytical chemistry at Indiana University, Ana Flavia quickly distinguished herself by not only displaying a high-level of technical expertise but also by demonstrating a relentless push to grow in any way that could make her more valuable to the organization. Throughout her time working with the various companies, Ana Flavia displayed her ability to become proficient in less familiar, specialized areas and be a guide and resource to the founders. This was a huge asset when she was named the primary contact for four unique startups with very different technologies and objectives. Her professional knowledge of testing methods was invaluable in helping the founders make the most of their time and resources.

Riana Dozier

Manufacturing Engineer

Goodwill Commercial Services of Central and Southern Indiana

Bio

Dr. Ana Flavia Petro

Senior Analytical Chemist

Heritage Research Group

Bio

Dr. Ana Flavia Petro

Senior Analytical Chemist

Heritage Research Group

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An ability to develop sound strategy and convert it into an executable plan has pushed Ben to high levels at LDI, Ltd., where he sits on the executive leadership team, helps to drive value in LDI’s portfolio of manufacturing and logistics companies and serves in leadership roles in portfolio companies. While Ben began working at LDI in a pure strategy role shortly after earning a finance and political science degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s from the Georgia Institute of Technology, his leadership during the early days of the global pandemic led leadership to name him Chief Transformation Officer for OIA Global at the age of 25. His role was to design and lead a global transformation project for the billion-dollar company. Ben managed a dedicated team of 20+ individuals and helped the project exceed its financial goals by over 150%.

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Connor’s bosses at Polygon, a leading manufacturer of composite components, describe him as a “Problem Solver.” A description of the University of Notre Dame grad’s work included a number of examples of tackling tough challenges and finding solutions not simply through technical expertise but through a process of deconstructing problems, acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to arrive at a solution, and leading teams to make a plan work. For example, Connor identified a quality problem in one of the main segments of Polygon’s business that seemed to be getting worse throughout the year. Instead of accepting the cause that most were ascribing to the issue-operators not following detailed work instructions-Connor decided to interview those involved in the process to determine any underlying root causes. Fortunately, he uncovered issues that didn’t have to do with operators at all-the problem was due to an improper engineering design.

Ben Fouch

VP, Strategy & Operations

LDI

Bio

Connor Fox

Project Manager

Polygon Composites Technology

Bio

Connor Fox

Project Manager

Polygon Composites Technology

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By the time he arrived at Rolls-Royce, fresh from earning his bachelor’s in supply chain management and accounting from IUPUI, Adam already had notched considerable experience in the logistics, pharmaceuticals and food industries. As part of Rolls-Royce’s graduate development team, he wasted no time making a difference, leading teams credited with saving the company millions of dollars, increasing productivity and scoring wins in other measurable ways. Currently responsible for scheduling $220M of Turbines machining output, he’s continually creating solutions to evolving problems, developing roadmaps for daily operational success, while strategically scheduling for the long-term health of the business.  As strong as his technical skills are, he is most celebrated as a leader who gets teams aligned to make things happen. As one of his bosses put it, “Everything Adam touches turns into gold.”

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In four years with BAE Systems, Cydney has made her mark by helping to sharpen efficiencies, ensure high quality and evaluate, acquire and implement new technologies used in the production of systems and controls for commercial and military clients. Cydney found her passion for engineering in high school where she was a 3-year member of the robotics club. She strives to continue to find ways to be a leader for BAE by co-leading the Women’s Inclusive Network and Employee Engagement committees. She also is leading a team to bring a Women in Technology program for female high school students to Fort Wayne with plans to expand to as many high schools as possible to create a pipeline of talent for internships and full-time hires.

Adam Gushwa-Williams

Production Planning & Control Manager

Rolls-Royce

Bio

Cydney Huey

Manufacturing Engineer

BAE Systems

Bio

Cydney Huey

Manufacturing Engineer

BAE Systems

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Robert joined True Essence in its earliest days as part of the sales and marketing team for its SoChatti chocolate brand and quickly lined up partners ranging from farmer’s market vendors to national retailers such as Kroger. More recently, he has helped to launch True Essence Foods Flavor technology to the brewery world, securing a deal that will allow a local hops distributor to supply brewers across the nation who are interested in new food technology. Robert has thrived in a start-up environment, due in part to his desire to participate in every aspect of the business, from building the company’s initial sales strategy to helping source and make the products that he would eventually sell. A Butler University alum, Robert is said to “bleed innovation, team-work, resilience and a focus on bringing appropriate flavor to the world in a more sustainable fashion.”

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If something goes wrong with equipment on the manufacturing floor, Nicholas wants technicians to find out about it even before the operators know there’s a problem. To do this, he has helped put together a system that monitors devices and automatically sends alerts and work tickets to the cloud for technicians with the documents they need to address the problem. This drive for tapping into new technologies for the benefit of customers combined with his calm demeanor and strong work ethic earned the Indiana University informatics alum a nomination for LHP Leadership Certification only three months after he stepped into the manufacturing world – and put him on a path to continue his upward trajectory.

Robert Kirch

Client Relationship Manager

True Essence Foods

Bio

Nicholas LaNeve

Full Stack Developer

LHP Analytics & IoT

Bio

Nicholas LaNeve

Full Stack Developer

LHP Analytics & IoT

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A stint as a student researcher on a NASA-funded project at the Purdue University Horticulture College didn’t just expose Scott to hydroponic food production; it showed him his future. Since 2016, Scott has launched Heliponix, invented, patented and trademarked aeroponics technology, and designed the appliance that serves as his company’s centerpiece product, a consumer in-home gardening appliance productive enough to eliminate a user’s dependency on a grocery store produce with monthly recurring seed pod subscriptions known as ‘Keurig for plants’. The Purdue mechanical engineering grad has funded his venture through venture capital and grants that include one supporting the deployment of his low-cost hydroponic solutions in food-insecure regions of Africa. His goal? To curb hunger and distribute enough growing systems to become “the largest farm in the world without owning a single acre of land.”

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In her third year of a rotational development program at Caterpillar, Megan has impressed her bosses with her ability to adapt to changing situations and focus on the needs of her workforce as a means to improving efficiency and productivity. Despite being a young woman in a field dominated by men years older than she is, Megan has shown an ability to have the kinds of difficult conversations necessary to lead effectively. Passionate about the future of manufacturing in Indiana, the Purdue University industrial engineering graduate has worked to recruit young people into the field, help them find the right path and recently was appointed the Lafayette Young Professional Chapter Chair.

Scott Massey

Founder & CEO

Anu™ (Heliponix)

Bio

Megan McHale

Lafayette Order to Delivery Rotational Program – Ops Leadership

Caterpillar

Bio

Megan McHale

Lafayette Order to Delivery Rotational Program – Ops Leadership

Caterpillar

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Technically, Sam’s job is focused on the continuous improvement of processes at Cook Medical, and his bosses say the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology biomedical engineering grad has excelled in that role.  He has played key roles in a number of different projects – one that resulted in a 30% increase in product output, and another where he trained over 200 Manufacturing and Quality Teammates and guided them through their own improvement projects, reducing manufacturing costs by $1.3 million. But Sam also has a passion for helping people experience continuous improvement, and his ambition is to grow into leadership positions that allow him to coach people through ongoing personal growth to “truly make a difference in the world.”

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John admits that, coming out of Eastbrook High School and heading off to Taylor University – where he earned a degree in physics and mathematics education – he was more focused on football than learning, but his first physics class “quickly flipped that.” Shortly after he earned his college degree, his high school alma mater lured him back with the offer to build a pre-engineering program. Today, that program is one of the school’s most popular offerings and is widely respected by his peers for its impact on students and their careers. Through partnerships with advanced manufacturing and logistics entities, he has successfully created authentic experiences and internships for his students that result in career, post-secondary and workforce readiness. School leaders say the program’s success is a direct result of John’s passion, ingenuity and ability to develop relationships and partnerships.

Sam Patton

Continuous Improvement Engineer

Cook Medical

Bio

John Ragan

Teacher

Eastbrook High School

Bio

John Ragan

Teacher

Eastbrook High School

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Graduating from Purdue University with a degree in electrical engineering, Nathaniel joined THG Automation, an Indianapolis-based company that develops and markets robotic welding systems in 2020. He quickly distinguished himself by developing proprietary software and electrical components used in the company’s robotic welding and cutting systems being implemented at metal fabrication facilities across Indiana and the U.S. A hard worker who enjoys the hands-on experience he gets by working in software, hardware and customer relations, Nathaniel is praised by his bosses not only for his technical expertise and ability to lead, but also for his willingness to admit when he needs to learn more in order to anticipate problems and arrive at solutions. He says he is looking forward to continuing to grow with THG Automation as the company expands to further assist the industry’s automation needs.

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Natalie’s drive to achievement has been circuitous but relentless. Her initial foray into college stalled when she started a business. Selling the business a couple of years later, she got married and headed back to school to continue work on an IUPUI science and mathematics degree. A challenging pregnancy slowed her to part-time student, but she still made the dean’s list. Not long after, Flexware came calling. Since then, she has earned eight Microsoft certifications and used her skills to drive development of key robotic process automation tools – and displayed such sharp thinking, humanity and leadership that her bosses say they believe Natalie “will be leading here at Flexware well into the future.” In addition to taking care of her family and their future, she hopes to be a mentor to young women in STEM.

Nathaniel Rivas

Senior Software Engineer

THG Automation

Bio

Natalie Roberts

Process Automation Consultant

Flexware Innovation

Bio

Natalie Roberts

Process Automation Consultant

Flexware Innovation

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Kendal’s bosses describe his contributions simply: “He was responsible for enabling Circle Beverage to become a contract manufacturer.” Previously focused on producing only its own canned drinks, Circle Beverage charged Kendal with preparing the company to attract outside business. Having started with the company hawking kombucha at farmer’s markets, Kendal spent a year developing required programs and procedures, got the team onboard, learned regulatory requirements and drummed up business. With an undergrad degree in civil engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and a structural engineering master’s from Purdue University, Kendal expects to see Circle Beverage’s contract manufacturing continue to expand, one day becoming a 24/7 operation.

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Michael is not only a successful high school student, but he also holds the title of company CEO. As a high school senior leading a Student-run Enterprise at White River Valley High School in Switz City, he’s a roll-up-your-sleeves guy who leads by working alongside people rather than directing them. Charged with heading up logistics, Michael focuses primarily on marketing and on boosting Wolverine Enterprises’ online presence. For this, he learned about and implemented a system that, among other things, links the company’s website to point-of-sale products and tracks inventory. Plus, he created a succession plan, mentoring a junior in the program who can manage the online store next year.

Kendal Rosenbaum

Manager of Quality and Batching

Circle Beverage

Bio

Michael Solliday

Chief Executive Officer

Wolverine Enterprises

Bio

Michael Solliday

Chief Executive Officer

Wolverine Enterprises

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When Caroline finished her business degree at Butler University in 2018, she started her career in marketing. After watching her develop for a couple of years, though, her bosses at Arcamed shifted her to human resources, a move that Caroline says, “has been the joy of my career.” With certifications in HR and leadership, Caroline has made her mark at Arcamed by creating a culture that has attracted a diverse team with a range of talents. How did she do it? By launching a successful leadership podcast, supporting internal and external apprenticeship programs, strengthening relationships with high schools and colleges, and championing not just Arcamed but also Indiana’s advanced manufacturing opportunities.

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A native of Tampico, Mexico, Francisco came to the U.S. to go to college, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and then joined Cummins to launch his career. Since then, he has earned a series of promotions for his implementation of Industry 4.0 processes and technology, leading and participating in the deployment of 40 cobot units and five industrial mobile robots and driving the design of plant layouts that reduce labor costs. In addition to notching achievements at Cummins, Francisco works to strengthen the pipeline of advanced manufacturing workers, especially in the LatinX community, and participates in mentoring and volunteering activities for young professionals.

Caroline Squatrito

Human Resources Manager

Arcamed

Bio

Francisco Torres Diaz

Senior Additive Manufacturing Engineer

Cummins

Bio

Francisco Torres Diaz

Senior Additive Manufacturing Engineer

Cummins

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A few years ago, Kelsey Van Scyoc was a production control intern with Toyota; since then, she’s gone on to lead a procurement team responsible for more than $750 million in spend, relaunched a production model by coordinating more than 200 supplier supply chains to meet prototype, testing and initial stock delivery for new and existing parts, and established herself as an empathetic leader with an eye for talent. Oh, and along the way, she also juggled two pregnancies, motherhood and pursued an MBA. With a degree in supply chain management from Indiana State University, Kelsey is praised not only for her achievements, but also for always seeking the next challenge, lesson and success.

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Johann sees advanced manufacturing as a key driver in the nation’s future, and he believes the proper utilization of technology will be essential to securing that future. With this in mind, the Honduras native partnered with a college buddy to launch Gravitate (originally Top Notch Leads), which helps manufacturing and construction companies leverage data and technology to improve efficiencies. Serving in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve while earning his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, Johann also co-founded a start-up business at IU, and now he serves part-time as an AI instructor at Butler University and Rice University.

Kelsey Van Scyoc

Procurement Manager

Toyota Material Handling

Bio

Johann Villalvir

Co-Founder and CEO

Gravitate

Bio

Johann Villalvir

Co-Founder and CEO

Gravitate

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Nicholas wants to make a difference in his community, and he believes one way to do that is to help people find work. As an Operations Coordination Leader with Veryable, he gets to do exactly that. In fact, his bosses say he has helped more than 15,000 Hoosiers connect with work in manufacturing and logistics through Veryable, which gives employers digital access to on-demand labor. Joining Veryable as an operations coordinator for Central Indiana immediately after getting his degree from the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, Nicholas showed a knack for the firm’s mission and quickly earned a promotion to his current role, in which he oversees nine markets and helps nine operations coordinators sharpen their abilities.

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Believing that Indiana’s future as an advanced manufacturing and logistics leader relies on the operation of its highways, roads, rails, airports and ports, Andrea works as the conduit connecting the vision of the Indiana Department of Transportation with the elected officials who make decisions that affect the state’s transportation network. An Indiana University graduate with degrees in political science and communications as well as a master’s in public administration from Indiana State University, Andrea is lauded by state leaders for her ability to drive policies that allowed Indiana to be ranked the No. 1 state for infrastructure in CNBC’s 2022 Top State for Business rankings.

Nicholas Wright

Operations Coordination Leader – Midwest Division

Veryable

Bio

Andrea Zimmerman

Legislative Director

Indiana Department of Transportation

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Andrea Zimmerman

Legislative Director

Indiana Department of Transportation

Former Honorees

The Rising 30 awards program launched in 2021 with an inaugural class of honorees who set the stage for this year’s class.

Past Recipients

Know a Rising Star?

Nominations for the Rising 30 Class of 2024 have concluded, we will be announcing the next group of honorees later in the spring!