2022 Tech Lead Development Program

13 min read

Autodesk empowers innovators everywhere with technology to achieve the new possible and advance a better world designed and made for all. Autodesk Foundation’s first Tech Lead Development Program (TLDP) was built based on feedback from our portfolio organizations. The programming is designed to facilitate learning for the most in-demand nontechnical skills of the future—enabling the workforce of today and tomorrow to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world.   

This six-month development program builds from the foundation’s work and prosperity principles by supporting technical leaders across the Autodesk Foundation Portfolio with interactive trainings, mentorship opportunities, and open career discussions. By investing in the development of impact-driven technical experts, the TLDP will optimize the impact of the technical leads within each of the portfolio’s respective organizations, equipping them to drive projects and initiatives as innovators. The cohort-based learning model reinforces a community of practice that spans across industries and regions, strengthening future opportunities for cross-industry impact innovations.  

We are proud to welcome the 2022 cohort, nominated and recognized as emerging leaders across Autodesk industries leveraging technology to solve for innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges – climate change and social inequity: 

Karly Butcher, Production Maintenance Technician, Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC) 

Karly joined Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC) in 2020, bringing her passion for mechanics and educating others to ISAIC as an Operations Specialist. She has since grown to ISAIC’s Production Maintenance Technician, responsible for maintaining all machines and equipment as well as managing the 5S Lean Manufacturing Team.  Karly is a dedicated leader, co-chairing ISAIC’s employee-led Creative Better Best Practices Committee as well as its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. 

Francisco Colom, Senior Architect, MASS Design Group 

Francisco Colom is an architect who has practiced in Spain, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. He is currently a Senior Architect at MASS Design Group. Francisco holds an M.S. in design studies with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a B.S. and M.S. of architecture with Highest Distinction from the University of Alicante, where he was appointed as Honorary Professor of the Department of Architectural Design. Francisco is the recipient of the Fundacion La Caixa Fellowship for Postgraduate Studies, the European Union Tempo Project Scholarship, the Harvard Eduard Sekler Fellowship, and the Harvard GSD Community Service Fellowship. His work has been exhibited at the 15th and 16th Venice Architecture Biennale.

Allison Denisky, Senior Architectural Designer, Build Health International (BHI) 

Allison Denisky is the Senior Architectural Designer at Build Health International (BHI). She has led the architecture team in developing designs for a maternal hospital in rural Sierra Leone and worked on several master plans for hospitals across Haiti and Africa. Her early work brought her to Haiti where she helped develop strategic community plans and participated in the designing of an academic center in Port-au-Prince. Today, Allison works closely with partner organizations to advance BHI’s BIM workflow and develop case studies showcasing how the design team optimizes occupant comfort and energy usage with passive design strategies.  

Adriana Duque, Project Coordinator, Build Change 

Adriana Duque is an Engineer and Project Coordinator for Build Change’s Colombia programming. Adriana began her journey as a Technologist in civil constructions at Distrital Francisco José de Caldas University from which she transitioned to a graduate program in civil engineering. Adriana works with Build Change stakeholders by providing technical assistance and project oversight for the retrofitting of informal housing. Adriana has received various recognitions for her work, most recently “The Build Change Honorable and Outstanding Merit of Excellence Award.” 

Ana Fernandez Martinez, Senior Architect, MASS Design Group 

Ana Fernández is a Senior Architect at the MASS Design Group office in Boston, where she is responsible for a full range of architectural design and management tasks from schematic design through construction administration to community engagement. With a design background, Ana is motivated to work in vulnerable contexts where design can play a leading role in achieving social equity. Prior to joining MASS, Ana worked with Lacaton & Vassal Architects in (Paris, France) and Clavel Arquitectos (Murcia, Spain) where she was involved in multiple architecture and urban design projects in Europe and the Middle East. Ana received a B.A. and M.S. of architecture at the University of Alicante and the Madrid School of Architecture (ETSAM). After graduation, Ana also taught undergraduate architectural studios at the University of Alicante. Her studio courses advocated for the critical reconsideration of traditional conceptions of architecture and of the agency of designers in the twenty-first century.  

Louise Foulkes, Caribbean Programs and Engineering Manager, Build Change 

Louise Foulkes is a structural engineer and Caribbean Programs and Engineering Manager at Build Change. Louise is passionate about resilient, affordable, equitable, and sustainable housing. As the Caribbean Programs and Engineering Manager at Build Change, her work focuses on homeowner-driven reconstruction and retrofitting approaches for informal neighborhoods throughout the region. Her broad experience includes project management, pre-and post-disaster building assessments, structural design for wind, earthquakes, climate adaptation, construction supervision, and stakeholder engagement with communities, governments, the private sector, and homeowners. Most recently, she has been evaluating the social, financial, and technical barriers to resilient housing through a series of market assessment case studies. Louise holds an M.S. in engineering from Imperial College London and is an Affiliate of the UK Institution of Structural Engineers. Prior to working for Build Change, she worked as a structural engineer in Rwanda and the United Kingdom.   

Benjamin Grabowski, Powertrain Engineer, Ampaire 

Ben Grabowski is a Powertrain Engineer at Ampaire who designs, tests, and builds Ampaire’s electric hybrid Cessna 337 aircraft. Ben received a B.S. in electrical engineering degree from Caltech and later went on to work for a small electronics firm, designing and testing battery and solar power systems. Ben joined Ampaire to amplify his impact on climate change and help build a future for decarbonized aviation. As a self-proclaimed “generalist,” Ben has enjoyed the dynamic work provided in his role and has designed cabling, circuit boards, enclosures, and control systems.   

Brandon Hornak, Project Manager, Build Health International 

Brandon Hornak is a Project Manager at Build Health International (BHI) and received a degree in Civil Engineering from Northeastern University. Since college, Brandon has been an active member of Engineers Without Borders and is currently a professional mentor for the Northeastern University student chapter. Brandon joined Build Health International in 2019 and oversees project processes, including contacts, budget, implementation, and partner relationships. Frequently collaborating with site supervisors and local staff, much of Brandon’s work overlaps with BHI’s Haiti portfolio. 

Hazem Kahla, Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Manager, BamCore 

Hazem Kahla is an Architectural Engineer and VDC Manager at BamCore. Hazem provides Revit and software support to team members, writes scripts, and builds tools to automate BamCore’s workflow. Hazem has supported BIM projects in three countries and has learned how to manage BIM data and collaborate with stakeholders across various platforms. 

Laura MacDonald, Managing Director of the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder 

Dr. Laura MacDonald is the Managing Director of the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering (MCGE) at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a Ph.D. and MS in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a BS in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University. As Managing Director of MCGE, Laura provides programmatic, administrative, and financial oversight of the Center’s undergraduate residential academic program, graduate certificate, and Professional Master’s programs. Additionally, she oversees a large-scale impact evaluation in Rwanda and supports the Mortenson Center’s broader domestic and international research portfolio. Prior to joining MCGE, Laura was Knowledge and Research Advisor at the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST). There, she worked to build CAWST’s reputation and credibility as a global leader in capacity development and technical support for non-networked water and sanitation. Laura is a Board Member of Engineers in Action and has previously served on the Engineering for Change Innovation Lab Steering Committee. 

Noah McQueen, Co-Founder and Head of Research, Heirloom 

Noah McQueen is the co-founder and Head of Research at Heirloom, a direct air capture company working to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to aid in our fight against climate change. Noah’s expertise surrounds carbon capture and removal, focusing on carbon mineralization technologies and direct air capture systems. This includes process design, alongside both techno-economic analyses and life cycle assessments, to evaluate carbon removal systems’ technical and economic feasibility. Noah holds a Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in chemical engineering from Colorado School of Mines. 

Kyle Merical, Lead Powertrain Systems Engineer, Obantarla 

Kyle Merical is the Lead Powertrain System Engineer at Obantarla and holds a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from The Ohio State University. While studying at Ohio State, he played key technical and leadership roles in the University’s Formula SAE team and conducted graduate research on automotive powertrains. Since graduation, he has spent his career at the forefront of advanced combustion engine research, design, development, and control. Kyle spent the first half of his career developing piston engines with improved performance and fuel economy. More recently, Kyle has sought out engine programs that focus on mitigating climate change, such as his previous role in control law design and analysis of Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan jet engine, which drastically reduces aircraft fuel consumption and emissions. His current role at Obantarla is a further commitment to his mission to help mitigate climate change. The engine-based syngas reformer is part of a larger system that will convert stranded methane gas into useful products instead of flaring it and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.   

Lambert Mugabo, Research Manager, Amazi Yego Limited 

Lambert Mugabo is a Research Manager at Amazi Yego Limited with experience in environmental engineering and health. Lambert manages projects designed to improve social and economic conditions in resource-limited settings. A holder of an M.S. in global health from the University of Southampton, Lambert manages a research study funded by the United States Agency for International Development Innovation Ventures (USAID-DIV) and the Wellspring Foundation to evaluate the impact of Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) trailbridges on economic, health, and educational outcomes in isolated communities in Rwanda. Lambert is a Global Health Corps fellow and has coordinated education and training efforts across Rwanda. Most notably, Tubeho Neza’s (Live Well) campaign, a DelAgua Health program in partnership with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, which distributed advanced water filters and Eco Zoom stoves to more than 300,000 households.   

Edgar Mussajjawaza, Operations Manager, Bridges to Prosperity 

Edgar Mussajjawaza is an Operations Manager at Bridges to Prosperity (B2P). Edgar graduated with a B.S. in building economics and later pursued a diploma in civil and building engineering. During this period, he worked mainly in the cell tower construction business. Driven by a desire to improve his leadership and construction management skills, Edgar pursued a postgraduate diploma in project management followed by an M.S. in construction management. Edgar possesses over five years of postgraduate experience in public infrastructure design, construction supervision, and project management. Edgar joined B2P in 2019 and is driven to enable isolated communities access to critical infrastructure. 

Nardos Nigusse Ayele, WASH Construction Supervision Officer, Splash International 

Nardos Nigusse is a WASH Construction Supervision Officer at Splash International and holds a B.S. from Adama Science and Technology University in civil and architectural engineering and an M.S. in structural engineering from Addis Ababa Science and Technology University. Nardos has worked on various construction and WASH projects in the last six years and currently supports Splash’s WASH programming in Ethiopia.

Learn more about Nardos’ TLDP experience in her Splash blog interview.

Sylvere Nsengimana, Research and Development Manager, EarthEnable 

Sylvere Nsengimana is a Civil Engineer and Research Development Manager at EarthEnable with a B.S. in civil engineering. Sylvere has worked with EarthEnable since 2019 and has supported material quality testing projects and the development of a micro-franchising model. Currently, he is working to oversee the development of the company’s products and lead the team to innovate new products which align with the company’s mission and vision. 

David Owino, Draftsperson, BuildX Studio 

David Owino is a Draftsperson and Civil Engineer at BuildX Studio. David holds a B.S. in civil and structural engineering from the Technical University of Kenya and is experienced working in the BIM environment in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Middle East. David is driven to support sustainable designs that are affordable and human-centered.   

Ayush Raj Shahi, Graduate Research Assistant, Mortenson Center in Global Engineering 

Ayush Raj Shahi is an Environmental Engineering and Global Engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado Boulder working at the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering (MCGE). He was born and brought up in Kathmandu, Nepal, and moved to the USA for his graduate education. His research focuses on Arsenic Treatment in drinking water for small-scale communities. Ayush has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Tribhuvan University in Nepal. He also graduated with an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of New Mexico in July 2019. He worked for a labor-based environmentally friendly road construction and management project in rural western Nepal for one and a half years. In summer 2020, he completed a three-month internship with iDE. At CU, he has been part of the 2020 and 2021 planning committees of the student-run Colorado WASH symposium and Engineers without Borders CU Nepal Chapter. 

Ash Seth, Design & Engineering Consultant, Kheyti 

Ash Seth is a social innovation strategist, designer, engineer, and educator, working at the intersection of technology and global development at innovation hub, Newlab, in Brooklyn, NY. Ash supports Kheyti’s programming and is passionate about utilizing design and education to empower marginalized individuals to maximize their economic and entrepreneurial potential. She has driven growth on several international development and social change projects in multiple industries, from agriculture to renewable energy to medical devices, in India, Nepal, Mexico, and Ghana. Her work centers on design consulting and strategic planning for development, iteration, implementation, and scaling of hardware and software products and services addressing wicked problems in global, resource-constrained areas.   

Kylie Van Aken, Quality Manager, Vartega 

Kylie Van Aken is a Quality Manager at Vartega with a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Denver. Kylie joined Vartega through an internship at the Composites Institute (IACMI). Upon completing the internship, Kylie joined the Vartega team as a mechanical engineer. After a year at Vartega, Kylie followed a dream to join the Peace Corps as a math teacher in Sierra Leone. Kylie reunited with Vartega in August of 2020 and transitioned from the role of Mechanical Engineer to Quality Manager at the start of 2021. 

George Wekesa, Architect, BuildX Studio 

George Wekesa is a licensed architect at BuildX Studio and a fellow at the Design Networking Hub, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. At BuildX, he translates client visions into human-centered and sustainable projects, focusing on alternative building technology to advance environmentally conscious materials, affordable healthcare, and socially responsive design solutions. 

Alex Yang, Director of Engineering, Rebound Technologies 

Alex is currently the Director of Engineering at Rebound Technologies, a hardware startup developing a novel, high-power-density, deployment-ready energy recovery and energy storage system targeted at improving legacy efficiency and performance in cooling industry applications. Alex brings a decade of product development experience, with an emphasis on rigorous technical design and analysis with computational and probabilistic methods. His systems integration experience and hardware verification and validation expertise empower him to tackle tough challenges in system design, balance of systems trade studies, and product deployment and commissioning. In addition to technical expertise, Alex offers experience in leading technical teams to solve a variety of problems in different industries, providing mentorship and guidance to early-career engineers, and establishing and implementing best practices and sound processes. With a track record of delivering robust engineering guidelines in the form of design templates or as a design reviewer, Alex is also directing the implementation of Rebound’s product data management system. Alex holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University as a McMullen Dean’s Scholar, and an M.S. in Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Learn more about the inaugural TLDP cohort’s success from Autodesk Foundation Head of Customer Engagement Chelsea Bruno.