Gator Engineering alumni address graduating students, new engineers

In Alumni Spotlight, Honors & Awards, News

Two Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering alumni spoke to graduating seniors from the college at this spring’s commencement and Order of the Engineer induction ceremonies. Tara Battle, BSME ’10, spoke at the Order of the Engineer induction ceremony on May 4, and Jenn Gustetic, BSAE ’05, addressed students at the bachelors recognition ceremony on May 5.

Tara Battle, BSME ’10

Chief Engineer for the Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications Systems Development branch, Missile Defense Agency

Tara Battle, BSME ‘10

Ms. Shitarria Battle is the Chief Engineer for the Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) Systems Development branch within the Missile Defense Agency. Ms. Battle provides technical direction to over 250 military, government civilians and contractors dispersed in the United States while managing requirements, ensuring test quality, and overseeing integration across the entire program. She led the program through the transition from waterfall-style software development to the scaled Agile development method, establishing new Missile Defense Agency policies and procedures.

Ms. Battle was a test engineer for five years with the Army Test and Evaluation Command serving in the Command’s Operational Test Agency. In this position, Ms. Battle led multiple projects including international ground test events where she managed a team of engineers dispersed across three continents.

Ms. Battle earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida and a Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University. Ms. Battle is certified in Test and Evaluation, Engineering and a member of the Acquisition Professional Community.

Ms. Battle served as an engineering mentor with the Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering 100+ Women Strong organization as well as a mentor with the University of Florida W.E Rise program. Ms. Battle served as a member of the Junior League of Huntsville where she volunteered with local women leaders to improve the Huntsville/Madison community through fundraising, advocacy and community programming.

Ms. Battle was the 2020 Women of Color Magazine “Managerial Leadership in Government” award recipient and a University of Florida 2021 40 under 40 Honoree.

Jenn Gustetic, BSAE ‘05

Director of Early Stage Innovations and Partnerships, Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA

Jenn Gustetic, BSAE ‘05

Ms. Gustetic is a senior executive who architects innovation systems for impact. Currently she is the Director of Early Stage Innovations and Partnerships for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. In this role she leads a portfolio of technology programs that engages diverse sources, creativity and innovation across the country, awarding more than $300M in funding annually through prize competitions, SBIR/STTR, research grants , internal innovation team projects, advanced concepts studies, and technology transfer. She is also a founding co-chair of the Partnership for Public Service’s Innovation Council (2018-2022).

Previously she has served in various program executive roles at NASA HQ, as the Assistant Director for Open Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and throughout her career has led numerous communities focused on incentive prizes, citizen science, design thinking and the maker movement.

Outside of her government duties, she also serves on the board of trustees of the Van Alen Institute and on the board of advisors of the National Science Policy Network.

Ms. Gustetic holds a bachelors degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in technology policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was a future of work research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School from 2017-2019 and she has also received an executive education certificate from Stanford University in Venture Capital investing. She has published numerous writings on innovation including in the MIT Press, Space Policy Journal, New Space Journal, and Issues in Science and Technology.