the lead engineer on the repair project. It took about five months to fixâ€”after all, the equipment failure was on another planet. The issue was a broken wire, and under Trebi-Ollennuâ€™s leadership the team developed a work-around and got the rover mobile again.
An accomplished senior space-robotics engineer, the Ghana native was one of the first people (and the first black person) to drive the Mars Exploration Rovers and was a key member of the Phoenix Mars Lander team. Heâ€™s as passionate about problem-solving as he is about the impact of the space program on terrestrial technology. â€śMost people donâ€™t realize that most of the advancement thatâ€™s been made in medicine and things such as cell phone technology came about because of the exploration of space,â€ť he says. â€śYouâ€™ll find that space exploration has provided for a lot of things that benefit society. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re able to get very small cell phones. We push the envelope because to get something into space you need to package it very tightly.â€ť
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
AmniFPS International L.L.C.
Speller, a food engineer, launched AmniFPS from a Website in 1998. Today he leads the companyâ€™s effort to help businessesâ€”primarily in emerging marketsâ€”enhance the productivity and profitability of their food processing operations through a combination of technology tools. He is also helping an architectural and engineering design firm develop a bio-farming strategy.
Innovation: Speller is preparing to launch AmniFPS International L.L.C. in Nigeria, with plans to develop liquid sweeteners processed from cassava.
Professor, Chemical Engineering
University of Michigan
Thompsonâ€™s research focuses on uncovering new methods of delivering energy and fuel conversions. With his team of researchers, Thompson creates nanoscale (with dimensions measured in nanometers) structures to improve the development and efficiency of micro-fuel cells, which can be used as wireless portable sources of energy for items such as sensors, potential ear implant devices, and pacemakers.
Innovation: Thompson, also developed hydrogen-powered fuel cells to help meet the automotive industryâ€™s demands for sources of alternative energy.
Professor, Dept. of Biological and Environment Engineering
Walker is a leader in biofuels and industrial biotechnology. This area is expected to contribute new technologies that will efficiently liberate sugars in grass and trees and convert them into ethanolâ€”a fuel alternative to gasoline. Currently corn is used because of its higher sugar content.
Innovation: Through Walkerâ€™s work, trees and grass have the potential to become an economically viable fuel alternative, since theyâ€™re less expensive to grow compared with corn, which requires large amounts of fertilizer.
Senior Software Architect
Wesley helps develop social software product offerings within IBMâ€™s Lotus Software Division, which is responsible for the companyâ€™s Enterprise 2.0 and Social Networking Product Suite. These products provide business professionals with seamless integration between enterprise security and Web 2.0 networking technologies.
Innovation: In 2007, Wesley received the Golden Torch Award from the National Society of Black Engineers for his efforts in information technology.
Further Reading: Tech Talk With IBM’s Elite
â€”Reporting by Alan Hughes, LaToya M. Smith, Lois Barrett & Anthony Calypso