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Giacomo Marani, Ph.D.

Program Manager and Research Engineer


WVRTC, Suite 152

Giacomo Marani received the "Laurea" degree (M.S.) in electronic engineering and a Ph.D. in robotics and automation from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 1997 and 2000 respectively. Until 2010 he has been with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he served as acting principal investigator and project coordinator of the SAUVIM project — development of a Semi-Autonomous Underwater Vehicle for Intervention Missions.

He now serves as program manager and research scientist at the West Virginia Robotic Technology Center, affiliated with the Satellite Servicing Projects Division of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, with focus on robotic systems designed for NASA missions on satellite servicing.

He served as chair of the IEEE Marine Robotics Technical Committee until 2017. His primary interests are focused on the development of real-time algorithms for autonomous robotic intervention, including simulation of mechanical systems, sensor fusion, environment interaction with computer vision and control systems.

Alycia Gailey

Alycia Gailey, Ph.D.

Research Engineer


WVRTC, Suite 152

Alycia Gailey works in the area of machine learning and artificial intelligence, with applications to robot vision for 6-DOF pose estimation. Other work includes incorporating parallel processing capabilities into multi-core CPUs using threading and field-programmable gate arrays using parallel processing directives.

Gailey holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Master's and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Cornell University. She has previous research experience in the fields of radar meteorology, real-time neural control of external robotic devices and wireless electrochemistry instrumentation for neuroscience applications.

Kevyn McBride

Kevyn McBride, Ph.D.

Deputy Program Manager


WVRTC, Suite 152

Kevyn McBride supports the West Virginia Robotic Technology Center across multiple disciplines including data analytics, robotic operations, test planning and documentation and robot safety. His work encompasses the full life cycle of test campaigns beginning with test plan development, continuing to test execution using various robotic platforms and finishing with the gathering and analysis of test data.

McBride received his undergraduate degree in applied mathematics from Alderson Broaddus College before earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from WVU. His previous research experience includes study in the fields of finite element analysis, embedded sensor systems and data analysis of sensor systems. Prior to joining the WVRTC, he spent 10 years working in the heavy equipment manufacturing industry.

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Capt. Ken A. Olson

Engineering Technician

Capt. Ken Olson is the lead engineering technician at the West Virginia Robotic Technology Center and supports hardware fabrication and assembly for robotic test procedures. Olson’s tasks include design, fabrication, manufacturing and hardware assembly.

Olson is a highly trained and skilled technical engineer and has supported NASA missions for more than 20 years. Before joining the NASA team, Olson served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a squadron pilot and as an assistant officer in charge of Marine training. During his tenure at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Olson supported manned servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope as the astronaut extra vehicular activity and astronaut crew training manager. In this role, Olson coordinated HST EVA related FS&S simulations, developed neutral buoyancy engineering test procedures and directed astronaut crew members and NASA personnel on HST servicing operations.

Olson’s experience with astronaut servicing tasks and flight simulation hardware incorporates a realistic element to WVRTC test procedures for cooperative human-robotic space operations.

Andres F. Velasquez

Andres F. Velasquez, Ph.D.

Computer Vision Scientist


WVRTC, Suite 152

Andres F. Velasquez is the Computer Vision Scientist at the WVRTC. He is responsible for the development of computer vision-based algorithms intended for pose estimation and tracking of cooperative and non-cooperative targets. He is also responsible for the design and development of experimental tests and virtual simulations used for algorithm evaluation and sensor calibration.

Velasquez received his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from WVU. His experience and interests include modeling and simulation of system dynamics, pose estimation and sensor fusion.

Grace Ingram

Grace Ingram

System Engineer


WVRTC, Suite 152

Ingram works as a System Engineer at the WVRTC. She supports the creation and testing of robotic technologies. Her tasks include CAD modeling, analyzing data, and conducting tests or experiments.

Ingram holds a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from Duquesne University and a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. As an undergraduate, she studied tissue dynamics in real time by implementing a novel imaging technique. She has specific interests in design and analysis, and studied these topics extensively during her master’s program.

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Eva Simmons

Business Operations Specialist


WVRTC, Suite 152