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Celebrating the Sound of Systems Engineering

WSRC 2020 - Keynote Speakers

Ms. Christi Gau Pagnanelli
Director, Systems Engineering, Boeing Defense, Space and Security

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In her current role, Christi is responsible for defining and implementing Systems Engineering and Model Based Systems Engineering best practices, processes and tools to be used across Boeing programs. She has over 31 years of experience in the Aerospace Industry primarily in Program/Project Management, Systems Engineering and Global Engineering Management.

Her experiences include Deputy Program Manager of Vigilare for Boeing Australia Limited where she was responsible for program execution. Gau Pagnanelli joined Vigilaire from various satellite and proprietary programs where her last position was the Director of Systems Engineering. Prior she held leadership positions responsible for systems integration and test laboratory, mission software, hardware/software integration, and program tools and processes.

Christi began her career at McDonnell Douglas Corporation working on the International Space Station program as a member of the technical staff where she worked on designing a number of integrated systems. She continued to hold a variety of leadership positions. Her last position on the ISS program was as Segment Integrated Product Team Leader. She held this position throughout the final design and assembly, integration, test, sell-off to the NASA customer and on-orbit mission support.

Christa received her Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University.


Mr. Peter Brown
Director, Systems Engineering and Integration, Sound Transit

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Peter Brown is the Director of Systems Engineering and Integration at Sound Transit.  After joining the agency in 2011, Peter played an instrumental role in the delivery of the University Link and Angle Lake light rail extension projects in addition to other significant projects including the implementation of Positive Train Control.  In his current role Peter is responsible for the design, construction and testing of signaling, power and communications infrastructure and light rail vehicles worth over a billion dollars in support of Sound Transit’s system expansion plan.

Since graduating from the University of Sydney with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, Peter has held various engineering, construction and operational roles in critical road and rail infrastructure in Sydney, London and Washington, D.C.  Peter’s international experience in the public and private sector covering all life-cycle phases of critical infrastructure has resulted in a deep appreciation of the value of diverse perspectives and the importance of systems thinking in effective project delivery.


Mr. Geoff Austin
Chief Operating Officer at University of Washington Medical Center / Northwest Hospital & Medical Center

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Geoff Austin, MBA, MHA is the Chief Operating Officer for the newly integrated University of Washington Medical Center, in Seattle, which across several campuses consists of over 1,500 medical staff, 7,000 employees, and 500 residents.  Previously, he was the Executive Director for the University of Washington Medical Center, ranked as the number one hospital in the state of Washington and the number five cancer hospital in the country.  He has over 25 years of experience in health care and has worked for UW Medicine since 2005.  Prior to his executive roles in UW Medicine, he led strategic service lines including Oncology, Organ Transplantation, and Neurosciences.  Before UW Medicine, Geoff was a consultant with ECG Management Consultants and led strategic, financial and operational planning engagements for academic medical centers and schools of medicine across the country.  He began his career as a management engineer with Kaiser Permanente in Southern California.

Geoff is a clinical instructor with the Master of Health Administration program at the University of Washington.  He is the current board treasurer and past board president with Community House Mental Health Agency, and is an advisory board member of LifeCenter Northwest (the northwest region’s organ procurement organization).


Mr. Eric Williams
Director of Engineering, TerraPower

EricWilliamsEric Williams is the director of engineering and director of reactor safety and plant control at TerraPower. In this role, he oversees development of TWR technology with enhanced safety using analysis, testing and advanced computer modeling. Williams has 20 years of experience in engineering and has spent the last 13 years developing nuclear power plant designs, with an emphasis on safety.

Before coming to TerraPower, Williams spent four years at B&W mPower developing a new small modular reactor design and worked to develop the safety of the plant and take the design through pre-licensing with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He also led the development of an Integrated Systems Test facility, which was a small scale electrically powered version of the nuclear power plant used to demonstrate the safety characteristics of the plant during simulated accident scenarios.

Earlier in his career, Williams worked on another new reactor design where he led a team that analyzed severe accidents. He developed the analysis and documentation needed to license the design and took the severe accident analysis through the licensing process.

Prior to working on new nuclear reactor designs, Williams worked on making the current fleet of nuclear power plants in the U.S. more efficient by upgrading their equipment and modernizing their systems. He worked directly with electric power utilities and visited operating nuclear power plants to understand the issues they faced and helped develop solutions.

Williams holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, a Master’s of Business Administration from Lynchburg College and holds a Professional Engineer license.