Our team thrives at the intersection of industry and technology, predictably and reliably creating new approaches to unique problems.
The First Mode team has decades of combined experience in design, analysis, assembly, test, and deployment of innovative solutions in the space, natural resources, automotive, and high-tech sectors. This experience includes significant responsibility for the success of NASA’s Mars Exploration and Rover programs.
President & Chief Engineer
Chris oversees the design, development, and deployment of engineered solutions for projects around the globe and throughout the solar system. Chris has decades of experience in the implementation of robotic systems for the exploration of deep space, including as mobility systems engineer for NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers and lead mechanical engineer for NASA's Curiosity rover. For his efforts, Chris received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement and Exceptional Engineering Achievement medals.
VP of Strategy & Business Development
Rhae helps First Mode’s client companies harness the tools and technologies of space exploration to innovate in industries as diverse as natural resources, firearm safety, and clean technology. Rhae was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list for his work at Planetary Resources where he created the first economic models for the commercial exploration and mining of natural resources from asteroids. He was also the founder of Accenture Strategy’s Commercial Space group.
Senior Mechanical Engineer
Maggie regularly tackles unknown engineering challenges including asteroid resource extraction modeling, drilling into the compositionally unknown crust of Mars, and negotiating resources across complex systems. Maggie’s background is in mechanical systems for complex interplanetary spacecraft. She has run technical teams at NASA JPL and Planetary Resources working on drilling and sampling mechanisms, scientific instrument suites, and 3D printed propulsion modules.
Principal Software Engineer
Brian leads teams in the development of embedded software, firmware, and user interface elements. His deep understanding and experience in architecting software solutions for safety-critical systems is regularly deployed across the solar system. With over 15 years of experience developing testing software at Intel, Brian is well versed in the debug and validation of systems that need to work the first time, every time.
Principal Mechanical & Thermal Engineer
Peter designed and developed mechanical and thermal systems for several NASA Earth-orbiting and interplanetary missions. He was also responsible for the vehicle-level integration of the Opportunity and Curiosity Rovers for spacecraft assembly, test, and launch operations.
Principal Systems Engineer
Josh leads efforts in a variety of industries at First Mode, seeking out holistic and innovative ways to solve the complex challenges facing organizations today. He leverages his technical experience in electrical systems and product lifecycle design management to bring solutions to life. This includes work in electrification, clean technology, and system management.
ELIZABETH FRANK, Ph.D.
Applied Planetary Scientist
Elizabeth is an expert at bridging the gap between science and engineering with a focus on driving innovation in the robotic exploration of our solar system. Outside of the aerospace sector, her Ph.D. in geology also enables her to tackle problems here on planet Earth such as in mining, agriculture, and other related sectors.
Amber has extensive experience in the verification, validation, and qualification of system-critical components from prototype to production. Her background in electrical and computer engineering brings automation and data analysis to the systems she helps create.
VP of Operations
Katarina has a decade of experience starting and operating companies in both US and international markets. She has served as Director of Operations in the aerospace, software, and manufacturing industries, including teams working with NASA and ESA. She oversees HR, operations, and process management at First Mode.
Clara focuses on keeping complex systems operating in a nominal state through modeling, analysis, and system integration. This includes extensive experience in the design and execution of test campaigns, metrology, and custom sensor configuration. This often includes the creation of a custom data pipeline and analysis tool.
DAVID GERHARDT, Ph.D.
Senior Systems Engineer
David is a systems engineer at heart, negotiating between teams to transform ideas into reality. His expertise includes feasibility assessment, requirements development, and operations management. He served as the Lead Systems Engineer for flagship satellite missions at the University of Colorado, GomSpace, and Planetary Resources.
Principal Electrical Engineer
Krunal has a decade of electronics design experience across aerospace, consumer products, industrial, and automotive applications through the entire product lifecycle. He is especially well versed in the development of high-reliability systems for extreme environments, including radiation-sensitive applications. He leads First Mode’s electrical engineering team.
Talent & Recruiting Manager
Lindsey leads the talent and recruiting strategy at First Mode. She has over a decade of experience recruiting engineers, scientist, and business operations candidates. Previously, Lindsey was part of the recruiting duo that built a team of over 70 at Planetary Resources in Seattle.
Josh is a mechanical systems engineer with an interest in modifying commercial components to survive harsh environments of all kind, from deserts to space. Josh’s work experience includes optical instrument accommodation for multiple spacecraft, environmental testing of space-based hardware, and mining industry sensor analysis.
Christine has a background in designing for fabrication, assembly, and maintenance repairs from her experiences in the aircraft industry. At First Mode, Christine applies her knowledge to successfully integrate structural components and mechanisms into complex systems exposed to terrestrial and deep space environments.
Riley has a background in embedded software and robotics with a focus on test development and execution. This includes the development of power, communications, and computing architecture for a deep-space, sub-surface asteroid probe and agricultural field testing campaigns using a variety of sensors and testing platforms.
Senior Mechanical Engineer
Spencer brings a robust background in mechanical systems to system-level problems, including optomechanics, structures and configurations, and integration. At First Mode, Spencer works closely with deep space and terrestrial customers to develop structural elements, mechanisms, and accommodations for a range of complex payloads.
COLIN BATESON, Ph.D.
Mechanical & Thermal Engineer
Colin is a mechanical engineer specializing in energy, fluids, dynamic environments testing, and thermal analysis. Past projects include the thermal architecture and analysis of a deep space optical communication device as well an investigation of option space for on-demand, low-altitude remote sensing of soil moisture for industrial applications.
Sarah has a background in designing mechanical devices and support equipment within the aerospace and construction industries. She has developed structural components and custom tooling for use with a wide range of aircraft components as well as designed metal and composite repairs on military aircraft.
Kathleen’s background includes experience on both the engineering and science teams for NASA’s Curiosity rover. Through a diverse array of projects ranging from instrument design to spacecraft anomaly mitigation, she has developed a broad perspective on what it takes to successfully build and operate complex systems on and off the planet.
Manager, Space Business Development
Tristan combines an engineering foundation with business experience to create opportunities in complex industries, from new space to microelectromechanical sensors to semiconductors. He currently spearheads First Mode’s business development efforts across the space industry.
Drawing on experience working on satellite ground control applications, Lucia builds the software that powers many of First Mode's projects. Interdisciplinary collaboration and communication are the cornerstones of Lucia's approach to engineering.
Justine is an electrical engineer with experience in mechanical, electrical, and software development. She uses a broad range of tools to design and build systems in a variety of industries for First Mode’s clients.
Sam is a software engineer with experience designing, building, and maintaining high-reliability distributed systems. Across a variety of industries and applications, he has worked on both small- and large-scale systems operating within terrestrial cloud infrastructure as well as onboard cubesats in low Earth orbit.