2022 – 2023 Board of Directors

List of past Chairs

President
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.
 
Beth has spent the majority of her career at John Deere working in Global IT. She currently is a Quality Coach for the Dealer facing applications supported by Deere. She is a core team member of the John Deere Inspire team, supporting STEM activities in Deere home communities. She is a coordinator for the Inspire School Partnership with Ridgewood Elementary in East Moline.

She has been a member of the State of Iowa SE Stem Advisory council since 2016 where she has helped choose STEM startup programs, STEM Teacher of the Year, and STEMBest awardees. She has volunteered extensively with FIRST Lego League Challenge events for the Quad Cities, for World Championships and for the Global Innovation Awards. 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.
Vice President
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.
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.
Treasurer
Terry Francis
Terry Francis earned a Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nebraska in 1982. He earned an MBA degree in 1994 from Loyola University in Chicago. He has served in various IT management positions with the US Army Corps of Engineers, Firestone, Sara Lee Corporation, and John Deere.

Terry retired from John Deere in 2019 with his most recent position
being Product Manager for EQUIP, the dealer management system written and supported by John Deere Information Systems.

Terry currently resides in Coal Valley.
Communications Chair
Kitty McSparin
Scholarship Chair
Tom Hein
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Ph: 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
Jinnel Choiniere
Jinnel enjoys making complex topics (like engineering or air quality) compelling to a variety of audiences. Most recently, she advocated for the needs of the business community in Fairbanks, Alaska as President and CEO of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. Before managing programs at the Society of Women Engineers and the Professional Convention Management Association, Jinnel created real-world STEM activities as HQ staff for FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. While at FIRST, she managed the launch of the Global Innovation Award competition. Jinnel holds a BA from Elmhurst College, an MA from the University of Chicago, and a Project Management Certificate from Loyola University Chicago.
Director
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 involved to help facilitate further STEM opportunities in the area. He currently resides in Davenport.
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.