External Advisory Council


The External Advisory Council (EAC) for the Software Engineering Program is a council of industry experts, as well as alumni, who advise the program on ways to improve and ensure that our degree program continues to excel and meet the needs of employers in industry and academia

     Chaz Beck

Photo of  Chaz Beck

      Software Engineer II

    Microsoft Corporation 

Chaz Beck (BS SE ’09) is a Software Engineer II at Microsoft in Fargo, ND. After graduating with the second graduating class of Iowa State’s Software Engineering program, Chaz joined Microsoft as a Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) with the Microsoft Dynamics Corporate Performance Management (CPM) team. The CPM team develops and maintains two Microsoft products, Management Reporter and Connector for Microsoft Dynamics.

As a SDET, Chaz developed test automation and tools focused on Management Reporter, a financial reporting product used to integrate and report on data from other Microsoft Dynamics ERP products. Together with BJ Rollison (author of How We Test Software at Microsoft), Chaz developed a globalization tool used throughout Microsoft that allows test automation to change Windows user locale. Chaz has also developed several testing frameworks used at Microsoft internally for distributing and executing test automation, leveraging other Microsoft technologies that are part of Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server.

Chaz is currently a Software Engineer II with the CPM team. In this role, his work has expanded to include not only test automation but also product development. Areas of focus include build, install, product configuration, ERP integration and cloud deployment, for both Management Reporter and Connector for Microsoft Dynamics.

 Colleen Becker 

       Programs Manager,                Common Core                       Development

         Rockwell Collins 

Colleen Becker (BSComS '00, BSChemE '00) is a Programs Manager for Government Systems Communications Product Development at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In prior roles within Rockwell Collins, she has held software engineering and program management positions for military GPS receivers, Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) terminals, TacNetTM Weapons Datalinks, and ARC-210 Tactical Airborne products. She received her bachelor’s degree in computer science and chemical engineering from Iowa State University in 2000, and her MBA from the University of Iowa, in 2003.

Becker is the co-chair for the Rockwell Collins campus team for Iowa State University, focusing on recruiting and research collaborations. She has served as an External Advisory Board member for the Iowa State University Program for Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE).

    Bill Boswell 

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   Senior Director of Cloud       Services Marketing &              Business Strategy 

    Siemens PLM Software 

Bill Boswell is senior director of Cloud Services marketing and business strategy for Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Digital Factory Division. Siemens PLM Software is a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services with nine million licensed seats and more than 77,000 customers worldwide. Cloud Services focuses on delivering PLM solutions in the cloud, and Omneo software as a service solutions for delivering big data analytics for product performance intelligence.

From 2011 to 2015, Boswell was senior director of Partner Strategy, where he directed go-to-market strategy for Siemens PLM Software global consulting and systems integration partners, more than 500 software and technology partners, and over 12,000 GO PLM global academic partners.  From 2004 to 2011, Boswell led worldwide product marketing for Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter software product line. During that time Teamcenter became the world’s most widely-used PLM portfolio.

Prior to joining Siemens, Boswell was chief technology officer (CTO) and vice president of Solutions Development and Delivery for E-Markets, Inc. in Ames, Iowa from 2000 to 2004.  E-Markets is a pioneer in delivering cloud and on premise e-commerce and ERP solutions to agriculture and the food industry.

From 1996 to 2000 Boswell was senior director of product management and planning and director of software development at Engineering Animation, Inc. (EAI) which became part of Unigraphics Solutions and later Siemens.

From 1983 to 1996 Boswell was a principal engineer at Raytheon E-Systems, where he was the co-founder of the company’s Virtual Environment and Visualization Laboratory.  Boswell also provided technical leadership to teams developing Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) collection, processing, and dissemination systems for the US Government.

Boswell earned his B.S. degree in computer science and business from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

       Sam Ellis 

           (EAC Co-Chair) 

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  Program Director, Hybrid        Cloud Development 


Sam Ellis (BSComS ’83) is Program Director for Hybrid Cloud Development at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota. In prior roles within IBM, he was Software Program Manager for the development of the BlueGene supercomputer, and led Development and Research projects on Stream Computing, Hypervisor Technologies, Systems Performance, and Operating Systems. He received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Iowa State University in 1983, and his MBA from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, in 2010. Ellis also is the IBM Campus Relationship Manager for Iowa State University, focusing on recruiting and research collaborations. He was a member of the original working group that formulated the ISU Software Engineering program proposal. In addition to his role on the Software Engineering EAC, he is a member of the external advisory boards for the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Iowa State and the MBA program at Iowa State.

John Gustafson 

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    Senior Fellow & Chief              Product Architect

  Advanced Micro Devices 

John Gustafson (MS Applied Math ’81, PhD Applied Math ’82) is now Senior Fellow and Chief Product Architect at AMD (Graphics Processor Group, formerly ATI) in San Francisco, California.

John was the director of Intel Corporation’s Extreme Technology Research Laboratory in Santa Clara, California from March 2009 to February 2012.  He managed the group charged with driving off-roadmap, high-impact exploratory research within Intel. From February 2012 to August 2012, he led a specific cross-company effort involving a fundamental aspect of computer architecture.

Gustafson is known for his work in High Performance Computing, having introduced the first commercial cluster system in 1985, and for first demonstrating 1000x scalable parallel performance on real applications in 1988, for which he won the inaugural Gordon Bell Award. He invented Gustafson’s Law, which states that problems with large, repetitive data sets can be efficiently parallelized. Gustafson’s Law has become a standard part of the parallel-processing academic curriculum. His parallel processing innovations have netted him three R&D 100 awards and two Inventor of the Year awards. Gustafson also received the Golden Core Award in 2007 from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s leading membership organization for computing professionals.

Gustafson is a former faculty member at Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. He founded the Scalable Computing Laboratory at Iowa State in 1989. The mission of the laboratory is to improve parallel computing through clustering techniques for use in scientific and engineering computation. He was the leader of the team that in the 1990s completed the reconstruction of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, which is housed at the Computer History Museum in California. Recently, he was awarded the John V. Atanasoff Research and Discovery Award by the ISU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The award was established in 2005 to honor alumni of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who have furthered scientific knowledge of the nation and the world.

    Brett Harper 

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  Vice President of Product               Development 


Brett Harper currently serves as the Vice President of Product Development at Workiva in Ames, Iowa. Harper has lived and worked in the Ames area for the past 20 years, first with Siemens PLM Solutions for 13 years making virtual prototyping visualization software, and most recently working at Workiva creating cutting-edge cloud software Wdesk, the collaborative work management platform for the enterprise.

Brett attended Michigan State University where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science.

    Rick Holmes 

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  Assistant Vice President       of Systems Engineering 

    Union Pacific Railroad 

Rick Holmes (BSBA ’86) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Creighton University.

He is currently the Assistant Vice President of Systems Engineering for Union Pacific Railroad. In his position, Rick is responsible for the design, development and maintenance of Union Pacific’s computing infrastructure including its voice and data network, operating systems, databases and messaging environments. He also leads a team that performs applied research in sensor technologies and develops communication systems for locomotives.

Previously Rick spent five years managing application development teams and 10 years developing the company’s information assurance, disaster recovery, business resumption and change management programs. Rick was very active in the establishment of public and private sector initiatives to improve the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure through his involvement with the National Infrastructure Advisory Council and the Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security.

  Ryan McKenna 

Photo of Ryan McKenna

    Director of Acute Care                   Development 

        Cerner Corporation

Ryan McKenna  is responsible for Acute Care Development, which includes nursing and pharmacy solutions.

McKenna is also responsible for refreshing the Windows technology used to build Cerner Millennium® applications. McKenna’s team provides support for the tools and processes needed to complete the technology uplift projects.

He joined Cerner in June 1999, and since that time has served as a software engineer, software architect, and knowledge architect for access, health information management, and revenue cycle-access solutions.

McKenna was instrumental to the design and development of the United Kingdom Choose and Book and revenue cycle-access solutions. For his work, he was recognized as a Cerner Top Gun in 2001.

McKenna received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Iowa State University.

     Tom Miller

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        Software Architect                        Developer 

        Microsoft Research 

Tom Miller (BSComS ’72) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in computer science from University of Illinois. He is currently employed with Microsoft Research.

Tom’s first job out of college was working for Digital Equipment Corporation on operating systems. He subsequently co-founded a software consulting company near Bern, Switzerland called Paranor AG. At Paranor, Tom worked on a factory automation system primarily installed at European auto manufacturers, currency exchange rate monitoring systems with direct connections to Dow Jones and Reuters, and a power company automation system. Subsequently, Tom joined Microsoft where he designed the NTFS file system and implemented it in a small team for the first version of Windows NT (now Windows 7). He also designed and implemented the Windows Cache Manager, and worked on scale out projects for Microsoft Exchange Server and SQL Server.

He is currently working on an advanced file system incubation project. Outside of Microsoft, Tom enjoys skiing, sailing, and traveling with his wife and two teenage sons.  He has been an avid supporter of Save the Children for over 20 years, and has visited programs in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Myanmar (Burma), and Malawi. He recently participated in a Jimmy Carter Habitat for the Humanities build in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

 Nicholas Multari 

Photo of Nicholas J. Multari

  Senior Project Manager of     Cyber Security Research 

  Pacific Northwest National                       Lab

Nicholas J. Multari is the Senior Project Manager in Cyber Security Research at Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) in Richland, Washington.  He establishes the direction and leads the execution of the various research projects resulting in a rigorous foundation upon which security concepts are matured and implemented.

Prior to joining PNNL, he was the manager for trusted cyber technology at Boeing Research and Technology in Seattle, Washington. In that position, Nick directed and led a group of researchers conducting research, development, and technology assessment of cyber and information assurance technologies in support of Boeing Business Unit needs. In 2008, he served as a consultant to the USAF Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) investigating the effects of the contested cyber environment on the USAF mission.

In addition to being a Senior Security Engineer with Scitor Corporation in Northern Virginia, Nick spent 20 years as a computer scientist in the Air Force retiring as a Lt. Col. In the Air Force, his positions ranged from system acquisitions to networking to computer security management. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Manhattan College, New York; a master’s degree in computing and information science from Trinity University, Texas; and a PhD in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin.

      Ron Wolf 

          (EAC Co-Chair) 

Photo of Ron Wolf

   Independent Consultant

Ron Wolf has been a technology executive and hands-on practitioner in eight San Francisco Bay Area start-ups, as well as for dozens of consulting clients–ranging from the Fortune 100 to raw start-ups with big ideas–over the last 20 years. Specializing in team building and creating database, Middleware, Web (SOA & SAAS), and IT Management products, Ron turns new architectural possibilities into products with real value.

Ron has B.S. (Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi) and M.S. degrees in Computer Science from Iowa State University where he also worked as an IBM Mainframe Systems Programmer. Then, moving to Silicon Valley and joining his first startup, Molecular Design, as their first Computer Science trained employee among 60 chemists, Ron was able to improve performance of their landmark organic chemical database by 3 orders of magnitude. Taking note of his success, former IBM Executive and ISU Alumnus Bob Evans recruited Ron to Foothill Research where he had the honor to work closely with Evans and his portfolio companies and Japanese partners. Moving on to Gupta Corp, which pioneered the PC client/server revolution, Ron and his team created the first multi-database middleware, SQL-Net.

In 1994, Ron co-founded NetSource, one of the first large website creation companies, and originated, documented, and taught the now commonplace website creation methodology. More recently as head of development at Keynote Systems, a performance management services company, Ron has architected and implemented a massive distributed platform with over 1,500 measurement servers in 50 cities worldwide, feeding 50M+ data points per day to a unique real-time data warehouse. More recently, Ron has provided business strategy, requirements gathering, product design, product marketing, project management, and technical advice to clients in the SOA, SAAS, database, cloud, and media server spaces.