Jonathan Richmond is Chief Executive Officer of Takeoff Space. Jonathan has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the London School of Economics; a Master of Science in Transportation from MIT for which he was a Fulbright Scholar; and a Phd in transportation planning from MIT’s civil engineering department.
The author of two books, his work experience has included a two-year stint teaching in Thailand where he pioneered student-centered teaching for developing country students, proving that students used to rote learning can become highly communicative, and assignments as senior advisor on transportation system and organization development in a variety of countries including Mauritius, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Singapore.
While Jonathan has put an emphasis on mentoring throughout his teaching assignments, his move to Lowell, Massachusetts has made him aware of the number of brilliant high-school students from deprived backgrounds who don’t make it to top colleges, and he has founded Takeoff Space to change that. Jonathan is widely-traveled and also a critic for Opera Magazine.
MIT Based Team
William Navarre, a computer science major in his junior year at MIT, will be coordinating Takeoff Space operations at MIT. William is from Orland, Maine where he was fortunate to attend high school at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Maine. He applied to MIT after encouragement from family and teachers, and understands the importance of good advising. He served as co-treasurer of the MIT Educational Studies Program for two years and currently serves as Executive Editor of The Tech, MIT’s student newspaper.
Mentor to Mentors
Davie Rolnick will be helping manage Takeoff Space’s activities at MIT as well as mentoring the mentors. He was a math major as an undergraduate at MIT where is currently a PhD student studying Applied Mathematics. His research encompasses discrete mathematics, machine learning, and computational neuroscience.
Davie is the founder and president of Communicating Science @ MIT [commit.mit.edu], a teacher with Art of Problem Solving [artofproblemsolving.com] and the MIT Educational Studies Program [esp.mit.edu], and a writer for The Tech [thetech.com].
Student Activity Liaison, Ambassador to High School Applicants & Mentor
Lucia Lam will be mentoring for Takeoff Space and also developing our status as an MIT student activity for which she will provide liaison. She grew up and attended high school in El Monte, California. At MIT, she is a mechanical engineering junior who dabbles in control theory, computer programming, and linguistics. She does administrative work for the Educational Studies Program and is an officer for mitBEEF, MIT’s premiere beef appreciation club. MIT is currently teaching her to build robots.
MIT Funding Liaison & Mentor
Andrew will be mentoring for Takeoff Space and also developing grant proposals and providing liaison for funding through MIT. He is an MIT freshman planning to major in computer science and minor in biology. Born in the United States, he lived in China for 8 years and went to school at the High School attached to Tsinghua University and was first prize winner in Beijing’s Math/Chemistry/Physics Competition. before returning to the States to complete studies at Lexington High School.
With a strong interest in the intersection of biology and computer science, he worked at labs affiliated with MIT HST, the McGovern Institute, and the National Institute of Biological Sciences. He is currently developing algorithms for connectomics and computational optics at MIT’s Media Lab.
While at high school, Andrew participated in the Youth Explorations in Science program, working to introduce science to younger students and help them in their projects. In his spare time he likes hiking and photography.
Jennifer will be mentoring for Takeoff Space and also playing the role of our MIT Ambassador to Lowell High School. She is a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, potentially majoring in Mathematics and Business Analytics. She grew up on Long Island in New York. In high school, she was President of Student Government, Captain of Varsity Soccer and Basketball, and President of the Symphonic Orchestra.
She conducted research at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York creating a data acquisition system to collect cosmic ray and atmospheric data used to study cosmic ray flux. At MIT, she is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Leadership Training Institute, Dance Troupe, and the Undergraduate Association Campus Planning Committee. She has a passion for education and mentorship, and looks forward to having the opportunity to help other students.
Lowell Based Team
Coordinator, Lowell-based Ambassador to Lowell High School
Sim Dy will be coordinating Takeoff Space operations involving students from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where he is a sophomore working on degrees in computer science and physics and also our Lowell-based Ambassador to Lowell High School. The son of Cambodian immigrants to the United States, he attended Lowell High School, and believes that mentoring and supporting smart students from troubled backgrounds is vitally important for the future success of these studentsʼ lives.
When he is not studying, Sim is a Senator for Student Government, Co-Founder & Treasurer of the Undergraduate Science Council, the President of the Honors Council, and lead organizer of “Hawkathon,” UMass Lowell’s first hackathon.
Cullin Lam will be assisting with Lowell-based Takeoff Space operations. A senior at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, he is a senior completing degrees in computer science and biology. Cullin’s parents immigrated to the United States from Cambodia and Vietnam and he attended Lowell High School where he became aware of the need for effective mentoring to improve students’ educational and career outcomes. Cullin completed a professional work program as a programmer for Putnam Investments and will be seeking a career in computer science. He founded and directs the University of Massachusetts, Lowell Urban Choreography Club.
Thaya Uthayophas, a first year JD student at Harvard Law School where he is a
Baker Fellow is Secretary of Takeoff Space. Thaya graduated Magna cum Laude from Brown University with an independently-developed major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, subjects he also studied during a year away at Oxford University.
At Brown, Thaya was a fellow in the Royce, Liman and Social Innovations programs, created a summer policy debate camp for Rhode Island high-school students, worked on a language exchange start-up in Southeast Asia, advocated for prisoner’s rights in super maximum facilities in Connecticut, and conducted award-winning independent research on law, religion, and human rights violations in Thailand.
Ataur Rahman (Shuvo)
User Experience Lead
Shuvo is developing and coordinating the online user experience for Takeoff Space. With a bachelor’s degree in computer science from North-South University in Dhaka Bangladdesh and a masters in hunman computer interaction from the University of Nottingham, Shuvo is currently completing a doctorate in user system interaction at Eindhoven University of Technology where he is working at the interface of engineering and human-computer interaction.
Shuvo was the founder of Batchmate in Bangladesh, a tutoring program that offered university admissions coaching and he has work experience in three countries: Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.
User Experience Adviser
Jenifer Tidwell is advising Shuvo on Takeoff Space user experience development. A UX specialist and author of Designing Interfaces from O’Reilly, Jenifer has experience in designing both desktop and Web applications.
Jenifer, who holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from MIT, worked on redesigning the interface for Google Books and, as a user interface designer at The MathWorks, was instrumental in a redesign of the charting and visualization UI of MATLAB, which is used by researchers, students, and engineers worldwide to develop cars, planes, proteins, and theories about the universe. She currently designs and develops websites for small businesses.
Carl La Combe
Carl La Combe graduated from high school in Vermont. He did his undergraduate work in mathematics at MIT, spent a few years doing actuarial work for a pension benefits consulting firm, then did graduate work in mathematics at Tufts University. He currently teaches mathematics at The Cambridge School of Weston, where he also co-advises the White Students Against Racism group, serves on the finance committee of the board of trustees, attends the Feminist Coalition’s meetings, and serves as the parliamentary authority at Town Meetings. Outside of school, he enjoys reading, bicycling, hiking, and exploring new cuisines.
Meenakshi Chakraverti is a writer, and also offers dialogue, conflict resolution, leadership development, and program development consultation to organizations and communities that proactively seek to engage the richness and challenges of multiple dimensions of difference across their members and stakeholders.
With a Masterʼs in Public Affairs from Princeton University and a doctorate in social anthropology from Cornell University, Meenakshi brings experience in economic research, grassroots community work, ethnographic research, business entrepreneurship, dialogue training and facilitation, and strategic program development. Most recently, Meenakshi was Director of the Leadership Institute at the University of San Diego. Before that, Meenakshi was Vice President for Program Development at Public Conversations Project. Meenakshi has also taught at the University of California, San Diego, and Princeton University.
Ari Gildengers is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, whre he also has a clinical practice.
He has specialist interests in Bipolar Disorder and prevention of depression in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Ari has a bachelors degree in math from MIT, an MD from New Jersey Medical School, and served a residency at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry before joining the faculty there.
Asad holds a bacheolor’s degree from Occidental College and masters in management from MIT. Asad has worked in VAT and payments for about 20 years and is particularly known for introducing VAT refunding to Asia and seeding the internationalization of the Dynamic Currency Conversion business which allows customers to pay for goods overseas in the home currency of their credit card.
Asad now operates his own company, The Scotts Group Pte Ltd, which takes strategic stakes in businesses centered on real estate, financial services and technology. He serves on several boards including educational and charitable foundations.
Eric Starkman is president of The Stark Difference and has over 20 years consulting and business development experience serving leading manufacturing companies. He specializes particularly in Product Lifecycle Management(PLM) technologies and their application to business process improvement and Information Technology experience across a broad range of technologies, across all phases of the system and project lifecycle. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science > from MIT.
Mark Kantrowitz is a nationally-recognized expert on student financial aid. His mission is to deliver practical information, advice, and tools to students and their families so they can make informed decisions about planning and paying for college. Mark is publisher and VP Strategy at Cappex.com, a web site that helps students achieve their college dreams and is also the author of four bestselling books about scholarships and financial aid.
He sits on the board of trustees of the Center for Excellence in Education and the advisory board of the Journal of Student Financial Aid. Mark holds bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and Philosophy from MIT and a masters in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.