Alberto de Salvatierra, Co-CHair + Co-MC
Alberto de Salvatierra is an Assistant Professor at the UNLV School of Architecture, Founder and Principal of PROXIIMA, and Founding Chairman of the Center for Civilization. A multilingual and bi-cultural polymath, architectural designer, and landscape urbanist, de Salvatierra holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and both a Master of Landscape Architecture and a Master of Design Studies in Urbanism, Landscape and Ecology from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. He has conducted academic-related travel and research in 27 countries over the last 8 years and his work has been featured in various publications. He is the past recipient of Cornell's Robert James Eidlitz Fellowship, Harvard Library's Inaugural May Crane Fellowship, and GSD's Penny White Prize. Prior to arriving at UNLV, he taught ecological design at Cornell University, architecture foundations at the Boston Architectural College, and landscape architecture at GSD’s Design Discovery.
De Salvatierra is the Curator of the Las Vegas Hub of the Global Shapers.
Michael Raspuzzi, Co-Chair + Co-MC + MENTOR + SPEAKER
Michael Raspuzzi is Co-Founder of Culinairy Labs, a startup using algorithms to establish a smarter and more personalized future of food. As Design Lead for Boston Bay Innovation, Raspuzzi is re-branding Boston's innovation ecosystem, and as Design Instructor for both the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Harvard University John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, he focuses on applied learning and curriculum development at the intersection of design, engineering, and entrepreneurship. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and an inaugural Master in Design Engineering from Harvard University—where his project EMMA: Maternal Healthcare Coach earned him the MDE 2018 Thesis Prize. With playful interdisciplinarity, Raspuzzi ultimately enjoys building collaborative organizations, initiatives, and communities to solve complex problems in the global food system.
Raspuzzi is a Boston Global Shaper.
Vincent Kwan, Partnerships Lead + MENTOR
Vincent Kwan is former Board Director of the Rebel Venture Fund and an alumnus of the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Kwan moved across the country to New York City where he received his undergraduate degree in Business and Political Economy from NYU Stern. In addition to studying abroad in London and Shanghai, he has previously worked as a Project Manager for an international consulting firm—developing projects at the United Nations and restructuring companies in Asia—and as Team Lead for a “disruptive” food startup. He was also part of the New Business Strategy Team at the Food Network—developing and executing concepts and ideas. Passionate about startups, technology, venture capital, corporate law, and all things food, Kwan also co-manages Neighbors, a restaurant-café, with his brother.
Kwan is a Las Vegas Global Shaper.
ManVitha Ponnapati, Technology Lead + MENTOR + SPEAKER
Manvitha Ponnapati is an engineer who loves to make things that help people. She is Co-Founder of Culinairy Labs—exploring the future of customization and personalization in food through algorithms. She works at the MIT Media Lab in the Open Agriculture Initiative where she is building computer vision and software tools to help design more inventive future food systems. She is also an MIT Advanced Study Program Fellow through which she studies numerical computation and computer-aided drug design. She received her Master in Engineering from Cornell University where her thesis focused on video games and affective computing-based feedback mechanisms. She is one of the chapter organizers of the OpenIDEO Boston Chapter, which currently has over 1,400+ active members. Their chapter was one of the five OpenIDEO global chapters to receive an Ellen MacArthur Foundation Grant to focus on addressing the reduction of small-format plastic waste through circular design.
Mentors + Speakers
Travis P. Allen, Mentor
Travis P. Allen is an Adjunct Professor at the UNLV School of Architecture, while also a Project Manager + Designer at Carpenter Sellers Del Gatto Architects. He also currently serves on the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Las Vegas Board of Directors as the Director of Emerging Professionals. Formally trained in the field of architecture, Travis believes design is a creative process that permeates disciplines and encourages an exploration of experiences. Taking this approach, he has blended his curiosities by working as an architectural/graphic designer, design/art director, video producer/editor and model maker on various projects that cross typologies from hospitality and commercial architectural projects to science and cultural museum exhibitions. Travis is a licensed Architect in the State of Nevada. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from UNLV, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado, Denver where he received the Richard Reindel Memorial Scholarship to study abroad in Rome.
Claudia Andracki, Speaker
Claudia Andracki was born in Mexico and moved to Las Vegas in 1993. She earned her pilots license at 17, shortly after graduating high school. She has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and an MBA with a concentration in New Venture Management from UNLV. Claudia and her team won the 2017 Southern Nevada Business Plan Competition, where she presented on one of her business ventures, Aftaz Growing Systems, which designs and builds aquaponic systems. She is on the Executive Board of Directors for the National Aquaponics Association as Treasurer and Communications Director. Claudia is the owner of Desert Bloom Eco Farm, which is a solar powered farm one hour outside of Las Vegas. The farm been providing eggs and produce to the Las Vegas community, including 12 restaurants and multiple families for the last 10 years. Both businesses work together to improve the sustainability of future farming.
ASHLEY HAIRSTON DOUGHTY, MENTOR
Ashley Hairston Doughty is a visual storyteller, explaining personal experiences through verbal and visual language. Much of her practice deals with socio-economic, racial, and gender-based issues, particularly those relating to cultural misconceptions and the development of personal identity. Her distinctive perspective has grown through residing in nine different cities throughout her lifetime, mostly in the southeastern, Midwestern, and Southwestern United States. Although trained as a graphic designer, Doughty’s artwork often crosses multiple media, including typography, illustration, writing, fiber and materials, and book arts. She shares and encourages such art making as an Assistant Professor of Art at UNLV and through her design business and blog, Design Kettle. Her work is included in the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection in Chicago and has received awards from the Caxton Club, the College Book Arts Association and Arion Press. Doughty holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications from Washington University in St. Louis and an Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
MICHAEL FONG, MENTOR
Michael Fong is an Assistant Professor at the UNLV College of Fine Arts. A visual artist and designer from Las Vegas, Fong holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture and Design from UNLV and a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Syracuse University. Coming from a traditional materials background in sculpture, Fong combines material sensibilities with new and emerging technologies. With experience in woodworking, plastics, and ceramics, as well as new additive and subtractive manufacturing processes, Fong has the full gamut of fabrication experience. With experience in working with newer technologies, it was inevitable that the proximity of technology would be absorbed. Most recent pieces involved micro-controller regulated temperatures, Arduino-powered CNC machines, and Python-scripted 3D animations.
Dr. Yvonne Houy, Mentor
Dr. Yvonne Houy is Administrative Faculty for Learning Technology at the College of Fine Arts and an active member of the international Computer Science For All movement through her work as Professional Development (PD) Facilitator for the Code.org Computer Science Principles curriculum. Passionate about providing opportunities for anyone interested in learning computer science, her workshops have gotten rave reviews. Proud to come from generations of European farmers who were creative “Makers” by both necessity and for aesthetic expression, Dr. Houy was Co-Lead Producer of the 2016 Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (B.A) and Cornell University (M.A. & Ph.D.), her dissertation examined propagandist uses of fashion, and resistance to Fascism through fashion. She grows tomatoes in the challenging Las Vegas Valley environment, and practices the gentle martial art of Aikido.
Daniel LEvine, MENTOR + SpEAKER
Daniel Levine is a curious fellow who always dives wholeheartedly into his many interests. He recently graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where—having been a researcher for the MIT Media Lab—he received a Master of Media Arts and Sciences (Tangible Media). In the past, Levine has worked on assistive tongue controllers for quadriplegics, exoskeletons, shape-changing pasta, auditory feedback systems (that help people learn how to do back-flips), balloon-drone hybrids, and biosensors. He previously received a Master of Information Systems in Connective Media from Cornell’s NYC Tech Program, and dual Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science from Cornell University. In addition to his love of making animations and jumping into artistic space, Levine is an avid gymnast and an amateur pilot.
NIDHI SHARMA, Mentor + SPEAKER
Nidhi Sharma is a graduate fellow at Integrated Design and Management program at MIT. She identifies herself as an electronics engineer and entrepreneur and is highly interested in the commercialization of technology that can help people live better. With her research group at Auto-ID Lab at MIT, Sharma is currently trying to solve the problem of unwanted moisture absorption in agriculture, for farming communities across the world. She serves as an Entrepreneurship Coach for the MIT Entrepreneurship Online Bootcamp. Before coming to MIT, she extensively researched at Centre for Electronics Design & Technology at Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, Delhi and founded an ed-tech venture Ukhaad—where she aided hands-on learning in STEM subjects for school and college students using Do-It-Yourself activities and projects. She has previously worked in the semiconductor industry as a chip design engineer and has also advised the Government of India on policy for Swachh Bharat (Clean India) initiative. Sharma aspires to be a black box that can apply her secret sauce and solve any problem she picks. Sharma also believes she stands at the intersection of courage, skills, and goodness.
Cole Skaggs, Speaker + Videographer
Cole Skaggs is an artist, director and filmmaker who likes to see the entire picture. Previously, he has worked at small, medium, corporate, and state run architectural practices while most recently, Skaggs worked on the San Francisco Botanical Garden as a landscape designer under mentor Peter Good. There, he honed skills as a builder, carpenter, stone mason, machinery operator, and applied horticulturist. Despite his newfound appreciation for softscape and respite, he has a deep and unshaken passion for buildings and makes award-winning films, such as 78 Hours, which won 1st Prize at the 2015 Henny Larsen Foundation International Architecture Competition; Lumen for MOMA, documenting Jenny Sabin Studio's award-winning MOMA YAP 2017 installation; and A Visit to Aldo Rossi, which was featured in Domus Magazine. Skaggs holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University where he created film shorts for Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration and the entrepreneurship center, Life Changing Labs.
samantha solano, MENTOR
Samantha Solano is an Assistant Professor at the UNLV School of Architecture. Her research interests include urbanization in arid territories, immersive representation technologies, and landscape design equity. Samantha aims to empower landscape architects practicing in arid regions—providing valuable, actionable strategies equipped to adapt to the sensitive desert ecologies that are in jeopardy due to rapid urbanization and climate change. At UNLV, she teaches courses in advanced digital media, landscape architecture theory, spatial mapping, and landscape architecture. Solano received her Master of Landscape Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and—proudly—her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from UNLV.
Joshua vermillion, MENTOR
Joshua Vermillion is an Assistant Professor at the UNLV School of Architecture. His teaching and research focuses on architectural applications of computational design methods, digital fabrication tools, and robotics and responsive systems. Prior to his appointment at UNLV, Vermillion taught design studios, seminars, and lecture courses at the Department of Architecture at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. While at Ball State, he co-founded i-MADE, an applied research + learning institute focused on projects utilizing design, computation, and fabrication. During the spring of 2014, Vermillion was the invited Taylor Seminar Lecturer in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary. Joshua has published and presented peer-reviewed research at ACADIA, SIGRADI, eCAADe, ACSA, NCBDS, and ARCC conferences, as well as the International Journal of Architecture Computing. He co-authored/edited the recently published book "Digital Design Exercises for Architecture Students" with Jason S. Johnson (Routledge, 2016).
GLENN N.P. NOWAK, JUDGE
Glenn N. P. Nowak, Associate Professor of Architecture, is the founder and coordinator of the Hospitality Design (HD) Concentration at the UNLV School of Architecture. Since the HD Studio’s inception in the fall of 2010, the entertainment capital of the world has become an extension of the academic studio for students interested in collaborative explorations in design research with leaders in the hospitality industry. He teaches graduate studios and HD seminars. Additionally, Glenn served four years as the graduate coordinator of the M. Arch program and continues to serve on the board of The AIA Las Vegas Chapter and other non-profit organizations. His work and design research often involve community-integrated projects that focus on social, environmental, and economic sustainability. He earned his Master of Architecture from Cornell University and his Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design from Ball State. He is a licensed architect in Nevada.
Dr. Janet Runge, Judge
Dr. Janet Runge is a pioneer in creating challenging and unconventional ways for UNLV students to channel their entrepreneurial spirit. She is the architect and coordinator of the UNLV Lee Business School signature program, the Global Entrepreneurship Experience. Dr. Runge taught the first entrepreneurship course ever offered at UNLV. She founded and began operation of the UNLV Center for Entrepreneurship in 2006. She developed and established an interdisciplinary undergraduate entrepreneurship major in 2006 and followed that with a minor in entrepreneurship available to every student at UNLV. She also developed an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship concentration for the MBA curriculum and helped develop the Lee Business School's Executive MBA program. She is also active with Startup Weekend in Las Vegas, in co-organizer, judging, and coaching roles. Dr. Runge completed an MBA at the University of New Orleans and her Ph.D. at Louisiana State University. She consults with start-ups, small businesses, family firms, and not for profits.
LISA SONG sutton
Lisa Song Sutton is a real estate investor and entrepreneur, holding ownership interests in several companies in the real estate, tech, retail and food & beverage industries, including Las Vegas' #1 alcohol-infused cupcake company: Sin City Cupcakes. Song Sutton currently writes and speaks about entrepreneurship and business. Her work has been seen in Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and other business publications. She shares her knowledge as a professional speaker and sits on the advisory boards for several companies including Bitcoin Nevada and Youngry. In addition to her professional careers, Song Sutton is actively involved in her community as a former Miss Las Vegas (2013), Miss Nevada (2014) and serves on the executive board of the Asian Community Development Council. She was named a Top 10 Social Entrepreneur to Watch by Inc. Magazine.
Song Sutton is a Las Vegas Global Shaper.
JONATHAN TORN, JUDGE
Jonathan Torn is a co-founder of Higher Ground Produce, a venture bringing fresh, affordable produce to Southern Nevada using pioneering Israeli technology. Prior to working with Higher Ground Produce, he worked internationally on project management and triple bottom line business plan development & implementation for Teatulia, Bangladesh’s first and largest organic tea estate and Biolite, a New York City-based renewable energy company. He has also worked as a consultant for the United Nations and the World Bank. He holds a BA from McGill University and an MA in International Business & Environmental Studies from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
Andrew Carrillo, Facilitator
Andrew Carrillo is a Recreation Specialist II for Clark County Parks & Recreation at Hollywood Recreation Center. He is currently working on his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies at University of Nevada Las Vegas. In addition to his experience in the recreation field, Carillo was a long-term substitute teacher for Clark County School District for three years at Cunningham Elementary. While being born and raised in East Las Vegas, Andrew is a huge youth advocate and strong believer in giving back to the local community. During his free time you can catch him supporting UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center or Sam Boyd Stadium—maybe even out of state for a road game!
Carrillo is the Vice-Curator of the Las Vegas Hub of the Global Shapers.
Spencer Norman, facilitator
Spencer Norman is a native Nevadan who specializes in E-Commerce. He currently is an Account Mananger with a growing Amazon consulting agency based in the Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas, where he helps brands navigate the increasingly complex world of selling on Amazon. Norman graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in Marketing and a Minor in Entrepreneurship. He is passionate about sustainability and helping the Las Vegas valley continue to grow. He was also a founding member of the Las Vegas Hub.
Norman is a Las Vegas Global Shaper and former Curator.