Robb Lauer, Applications Engineer
Robb Lauer is an applications engineer from Minneapolis by way of Hutchinson, Minnesota, where growing up in the rural areas spurred his creativity and planted seeds of big dreams for the diminutive drummer. Robb joined the United States Army as a musician and toured the country and Europe during his service, playing at venues such as Arlington Cemetery, the Minnesota State Fair, and even the White House Lawn. After his enlistment, Robb studied Computer Science at Normandale College and began working as a technician at industry giant Stratasys in 2012. After a brief stint for a local Google affiliate, Robb has been in 3d printing professionally since 2016 where is he considered in the industry as an expert in FDM, multi-jet, and medical applications. Moonlighting as a professional drummer, Robb has played with numerous outfits around the Twin Cities and has gone on many local and country-wide tours under the sponsorship of Grimtale and Pinata Records. Robb is also the first-call drummer for entertainment company “Rock With U” out of Miami, Florida and endorses Twin Cities Drum Collective drums. In the little free time he has, Robb loves watching soccer with his wife and friends (especially when the Loons or Chelsea are on TV), shooting archery, fishing, reading, writing new DND modules, and occasionally finishing house projects at his home in Columbia Heights.
Jim Koepke, Author
Jim is a long-time member of Mensa. He is now retired but was the Administrator of the Hennepin County Mental Health Center. Jim is the founder of the Bloomington Writer’s Festival, an event which has been emulated by many other organizations. Writing has always been one of Jim’s favorite hobbies and he is an author of six books including one about the failure of the mental health system. He has run 52 marathons and countless half-marathons and 5K’s. He is the founder of the Duluth Diocese Adventure Races. Jim is a lover of the outdoors and has been charged by moose, shared trails with grizzly bears, and come too close to getting sprayed by a skunk or two. Jim’s curiosity always gets the best of him and has led him on many research projects and spiritual quests. He gives talks on a variety of subjects. He loves to create things and is looking forward to what life has in store for him tomorrow.
Jenny McDermott, Mensa Member
I was born in Freeport, Illinois, (site of the second Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858), went to school in Chicago and lived and worked there for 14 years. I moved to the Twin Cities in 1978 with my first husband. We were divorced a year later and I joined Mensa after attending a couple First Fridays. Since then Mensa has given me my second husband, my best friend, a dozen other dear friends, and some swell parties.
Dr. Fayneese Miller, President, Hamline University
Since 2015, Dr. Fayneese S. Miller has been the 20th President of Hamline University. Prior to becoming president, Dr. Miller was the dean of the College of Education and Social Services and Professor of Leadership and Developmental Sciences at the University of Vermont. She was a professor of education at Brown University and served as Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America.
Dr. Miller serves on the boards of several local and national nonprofits.
Dr. Miller has a BA in psychology from Hampton University, MS and PhD in experimental/social psychology from Texas Christian University, and completed post-doctoral training in applied social psychology from Yale University. She has published several books and articles on the social, racial, and political development of adolescents.
Dr. Miller has overseen Hamline’s largest first-year enrollment growth, increased the endowment, strengthened the honors program, added new academic programs including business analytics, computational sciences, and contemporary music, and created the university’s Statement of Civility. She has invested in several programs at Hamline, including forensic science, criminal justice, legal studies, and accounting. Under Dr. Miller, Hamline has seen significant growth in the number of students receiving national awards like the Truman Scholarship and Fulbright Awards.
Lissa Pawlisch, Director, Clean Energy Resource Teams
Lissa Pawlisch is the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Director for the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Over the past nineteen years she has guided CERTs—a unique partnership designed to connect individuals and communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. Her current focus areas include assisting local jurisdictions with clean energy, supporting collaborations with utilities, and advancing ways to reduce household energy burden including through community solar gardens.
Greg Ridderbusch, CEO, Connexus Energy
Greg Ridderbusch is CEO of Connexus Energy, Minnesota’s largest member-owned distribution electric cooperative. In this role Ridderbusch has general accountability for all functions and performance of the nonprofit utility providing reliable, cost competitive, and increasingly green electric service to more than 130,000 members across 1,000 square miles north of the Twin Cities. Ridderbusch has an undergraduate degree in mathematics and nuclear engineering from United States Military Academy at West Point and holds graduate degrees in engineering, finance, and business administration from Georgia Institute of Technology and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Mat Rouch, Senior Network Engineer
Mat Rouch is a certified network engineer and current graduate student in Data Science. He’s been a member of Mensa since 2008, and a life member since 2011. His wife Marsha is also a Mensa life member. He has two adult children and one rather childish adult dog. When not working, attending class, or studying, he spends whatever time remains in pursuit of all things nerdy. Do not ask him about network routing protocols unless you are in need of a good insomnia cure – he can go on for hours.
Richard Thieme, Author
Richard Thieme (thiemeworks.com) is an author/professional speaker who addresses challenges posed by new technologies, how to redesign ourselves to meet these challenges, and creativity in response to radical change. His speaking addresses “the human in the machine,” technology-related security and intelligence issues as they come home to our humanity. He has published hundreds of articles, dozens of stories, seven books, and has delivered hundreds of speeches. He spoke in 2022 at Def Con for the 26th year where he was honored him as the first “uber contributor.” He has keynoted security conferences in 15 countries and clients range from GE, Microsoft, Medtronic, Bank of America, Allstate Insurance, and Johnson Controls to the NSA, FBI, US Dept of the Treasury. Los Alamos Lab, the Pentagon Security Forum, and the US Secret Service. His latest book is “Mobius: A Memoir.” about an intelligence professional, that is receiving great reviews. The sequel, “The Mobius Vector: The Long Road Home,” is ready for publication, and the third book in the Mobius trilogy, “Mobius Out of Time,” is in progress. See thiemeworks.com for brain-frying work (according to a veteran at NSA).
Phil Ugorowski, Systems Engineer, NASA (HX5)
Dr. Ugorowski pursued B.A. degrees in Physics and Math at Kalamazoo College, then went to Michigan State University because they had the world’s largest atom smasher at the time – the National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab (NSCL). He became interested in instrumentation research as a way to increase the productivity of all researchers using the facility rather than pursuing a single research project himself. His Master’s research project was aimed at real-time identification of protons and light nuclear fragments produced in nuclear scattering experiments at NSCL. After spending time teaching Physics and Math and working outside the research field, he attended Western Michigan University for a Ph.D. in Experimental Nuclear Physics. His project there was the development of a new type of proton detector for use at the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility (IUCF). From there, he went to Youngstown State University and finished the development of a portable gamma calorimeter to settle the so-called ‘Hafnium Controversy.’ He took a research faculty position at Kansas State University, spending 8+ years developing radiation detection systems (mostly focused on neutrons) for use in basic research, nuclear power safety and preventing smuggling of nuclear materials. In 2017, NASA was recruiting people experienced in neutron spectroscopy for a project to develop small-scale fusion power for space exploration. The project was successful, and ‘Lattice Confinement Fusion’ is undergoing continued research. He is also involved in a NASA project to develop neutron spectroscopy for ‘Lunar Prospecting,’ or identifying materials of interest at a distance on the moon. Most his time is now spent in the Artemis Program, on the Lunar Gateway project, which will be the topic of the talk.