Prior to his government service, Tom was Research Associate Professor and Associate Director for Outreach with the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) at Virginia Tech for over six years. He led corporate outreach and facilitated large, multi-principal investigator (PI) program and proposal developments in interdisciplinary areas. Tom assisted commercialization of faculty research into spin-offs, joint ventures, and licensing. He organized national and international outreach for ICTAS, including establishing an innovation research center on every continent and organizing and running major conferences. He built a research lab from scratch and performed fundamental research on nanomaterials and 3D- and 4D-printing, culminating in the 2014 Outstanding Paper award in the top journal in the field. He was frequently called upon by journalists from around the world as an expert in 3d and 4d printing, and he gave dozens of keynotes and invited talks to industry and the US Government.
Leveraging his expertise in emerging technologies, Tom was a Senior Fellow (Non-resident) with the Strategic Foresight Initiative of the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. for almost two years. He helped guide the Atlantic Council in consideration of emerging technologies for their implications to geopolitics and societal disruption.
Tom’s industry experience covers both small business and large corporations. He worked three years at ADA Technologies, Inc., where he led proposal concept, writing, and project execution of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) proposals. He helped spin-off two companies from ADA as separate small businesses. For five years, Tom was a Research Scientist at Saint-Gobain Crystals (part of the French Fortune 100 company Saint-Gobain), where he was PI and R&D Project Leader during a $13 million dollar expansion project for optical microlithography materials processing.
Tom is a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship, granted to global researchers for post-doctoral research in Germany. Living in Freiburg, Germany for 16 months, he executed all his research in the German language. He developed and implemented novel experimental studies of interfacial kinetics and crystal characterizations of germanium-silicon compounds. Following his return to the United States, he was a Member of the Board of Directors of the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and Chair of its Strategic Planning Standing Committee.
Tom holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His research was funded under a three-year NASA Graduate Student Researcher Program Fellowship. He developed, constructed and implemented an in-situ, real-time visualization capability using non-intrusive X-ray radioscopy to study opaque semiconductor materials and liquid metals; he built the measurement and controls system from scratch with ca. $1.0 million worth of equipment. Tom holds a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering (Magna Cum Laude, Honors in Mechanical Engineering) from Vanderbilt University. At Vanderbilt, he was President of the Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society, a Member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society (comprising the top 10% of engineering students based on GPA), and a Member of the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society.