2021 – 2022 Board of Directors

List of past Chairs


Austin Laugen
Austin Laugen graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Computer Engineering in 2013. In 2018, he completed the Systems Design and Management certificate program through MIT.
Since then, he’s worked for John Deere in multiple embedded software roles. He currently works as the software delivery lead for an upcoming combine program.Outside of work, he’s spent four years mentoring two different FTC teams. He also mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters and serves on Beta Sigma Psi Fraternity’s alumni board.Austin grew up in the Quad Cities and first became involved with QCESC while in high school. He’s excited to be back involved to help facilitate further STEM opportunities in the area. He currently resides in Davenport.
Beth Ullmark
Beth Ullmark graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana with a degree in Computer Science through the College of Engineering.  She has an MBA degree through St. Ambrose University.
After graduation, she worked at Linguisystems, but since 1991 has worked at John Deere. Her assignments in Global IT have included network and server admin, managing the Corporate networks, and John Deere Finance Software Testing.  She is currently working on the largest software program in John Deere history as a Quality Manager in Davenport. In the past 7 years, she has worked extensively with the FLL tournaments in the Quad Cities. She became a member of the State of Iowa SE Stem Advisory council in 2016. A lifelong Quad City inhabitant, she is committed to ensuring that all children have opportunity to realize the potential of a STEM career. She currently resides in Davenport.
Director/Past President & Professional Development Coordinator
Dan D’Alessandro
Dan D’Alessandro retired from Deere & Company in 2016 after 40 years of service. In his last role, he was the Global Manager of an engineering organization that developed embedded electronic hardware and software systems for Deere agricultural and turf products.
Dan graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from University of Northern Iowa.
He is involved in several volunteer roles including FIRST FLL/FTC/FRC competition Judge, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Iowa Chapter Board Member, American Red Cross Orientation Trainer, YWCA of the Quad Cities Board ex officio Member, and Western Illinois University Senior Design Mentor.Also, Dan is an independent engineering management consultant.
Chris Hebel
Chris Hebel earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1981. He has been employed by Exelon Corporation at Quad Cities Generating Station for over 34 years, in various positions. Chris’ most recent position was Senior Engineer with responsibility for the Reactor Vessel and Internals Program prior to retiring recently. Chris currently resides in Port Byron.
Communications Chair
Andrea Fitzpatrick
Andrea Fitzpatrick started with Deere & Company in Moline in 2014 working for Global IT. In the years since she has worked several positions including database administrator, data migrations specialist, and developer for various data management applications. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
She has been a key volunteer in our community supporting FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Competitions for several years.
In addition to her FIRST volunteer activities, Andrea has led the start-up of “The Pledge of the Computing Professionals” Node at QCESC. The Pledge consists of a ceremony for computing professionals to take an oath of ethics with the intention to promote and recognize ethical and moral behaviors during their careers. She currently resides in Silvis.
STEM Coordinator
John Koch
John Koch graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  He also has an MBA from the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business and an Advanced Certificate for Executives from MIT Sloan.

John has spent most of his career working at HNI Corporation in various product development and product marketing roles.  He currently leads product development for the seating product category across all HNI brands.  John is passionate about education and learning, especially in engineering related areas.  He is excited to work with the Quad City STEM community to foster the skills needed to solve difficult problems and give back to our great community.  He currently resides in Moline.

Scholarship Chair
Tom Hein
Phone 309-798-0556
Tom retired from Deere & Company in Moline, Illinois after 32 years of service. He was a leader of innovation and in evaluating and applying emerging technologies for the company, most recently focusing on information technology impacting Deere’s customer and product. He also supported research alliances with Universities, industry and standards groups. He served on the boards of the Object Management Group and the Automotive Industry Action Group. He has held various positions in manufacturing, engineering, and systems management during his 41-year career, including several entrepreneurial startups. Tom has a degree in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Illinois, Chicago. In retirement, Tom is continuing his focus on innovation and STEM literacy through community organizations. He currently resides in Moline.
Award Chair
Susan Eckert
Susan Eckert, RD, is a registered dietitian through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa and completed her internship at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa. Susan began her career at Iowa Lutheran Hospital, Des Moines, as a clinical and outpatient dietitian.  She then became a pediatric dietitian at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York.  While staying home with her three children, Susan has worked as a nutrition support consultant for Visiting Nurse Services in New York and as an independent health and wellness educator in the Quad Cities.  She is a past recipient of Iowa’s Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award.
Susan has been involved with FIRST Robotics since 2010 as an FLL mentor, then coach and volunteer.  Her roles have expanded over the years to include various mentor and volunteer positions in all four programs of FIRST from the local to international level.  She was recognized as the 2014 State of Iowa FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Coach of the Year, 2016 QCESC Quad Cities STEM Volunteer of the Year with her family, and 2018 FLL World Festival Coach of the Year (Detroit).  She has been on the Quad Cities FLL/ FLL Jr. Kickoff Planning Team since launching in 2013 and was the 2019 Quad Cities FLL/FLL Jr. Event Volunteer Coordinator. She currently resides in Davenport.
Fundraising Chair
Josh Bump

Joshua Bump graduated from Iowa State University in 2020 with a degree in Software Engineering and received a Leadership Studies Certificate. Throughout his time at Iowa State, he served in many leadership roles in Engineering Student Council, Engineering Leaders of Tomorrow Leadership Conference, The Computation Advisory Committee, and in his department’s Student Advisory Council.

Following graduation, he began his first rotation in the IT Development Program at John Deere focusing on Software Engineering. He had previously been working as an IT Part-Time Student at the company since 2019. Since joining John Deere, he has worked on various web development and cloud infrastructure projects for both John Deere Financial and most recently, Global IT. He has also been involved in FIRST Tech Challenge and completed a Software Engineering internship at the FIRST headquarters in Manchester, NH during the summer of 2019. He currently resides in Bettendorf.
Director Emeritus
Pat Barnes

Twitter @PatrickOBarnes

Pat Barnes is currently the QCESC Director Emeritus and has served since 1992 in various roles including three times as QCESC President.

Pat is John Deere’s Global Program Director for STEM & Youth Education.  This includes responsibly for John Deere’s youth education strategy,  investments and related volunteerism.   He works at John Deere’s World Headquarters in Moline in the Foundation & Citizenship Group. Throughout his career at John Deere, Pat has held technical positions and leadership roles in plant engineering, production engineering, quality assurance, product engineering, and Information Technology supporting engineering operations worldwide. This included  responsibility for an extended IT Team in Pune, India.Pat holds an Electrical Engineering Degree from Iowa State University and is a member of IEEE along with serving on numerous boards and committees including: Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, Southeast Iowa STEM Advisory Board and the United Way of Quad Cities Area Education Council.

Pat has served as a volunteer for FIRST for 11+ years supporting all four FIRST programs.  This includes coordinating FIRST events in the Quad Cities and Judge Advisor for State Champions for FLL and FTC in Iowa.  In addition, he has judged at the FIRST World Championships and supported  FIRST events on four continents.