Leadership

Ms. Andi Mitchell

Executive Director

Andi Mitchell currently serves as the Executive Director of the Mercer Engineering Research Center (MERC). She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA, both from Mercer University.  She serves on the Executive Committee of the 21st Century Partnership; the Executive Committee of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce serving as Vice Chairman of Government and Military Affairs, and also serves as Chairman of the Middle Georgia Military Affairs Committee (MGMAC).  She is a 2000 graduate of Leadership Warner Robins.

Andi is part of the inaugural team, helping stand up the Central Georgia Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA).  She is a member of the Dixie Crow Chapter of the Association of Old Crows; the National Contract Management Association, serving as an officer in several capacities, and has served on the Macon-Bibb County and Robins Regional Military Affairs Committees. She was a member of the Aerospace Industry Committee (AIC), where she served as chairperson in 2002, and served as finance chair for over 5 years.

Mr. Jim Hundley

Sr. Director of Engineering and Programs

Mr. Jim Hundley serves as Senior Director of Engineering and Programs for MERC. He joined MERC after a 33-year Air Force career. His various assignments throughout his Air Force career were either directly involved in EW or in management that delivered the infrastructure necessary for the EW mission to succeed.

Assignments included lead engineer/unit Chief APR-38 Advanced Wild Weasel, Deputy Chief Systems Division Inter-Command EW Mgt Directorate at Wright Patterson AFB, Chief Information Systems Management and Support Division 1926th Communications Squadron Robins AFB, and multiple assignments in logistics, communications, and information resource management at USAF Headquarters. Jim retired as the Headquarters Air Force Chief Information Officer in March 2008.

Mr. Chuck Pollard

Director of Acquisition Strategy

Chuck serves as the Director of Acquisition Strategy and brings nearly thirty-five years of Program Management and Analysis experience from the USAF. His program management experience spanned many different areas at Robins AFB. Chuck started his career in the Directorate of Distribution, where he was the lead Management Analyst performing industrial engineering studies to implement designs for increased efficiency and effectiveness with materials, machines, and personnel to improve workflow. Chuck’s experience also includes serving in the C-141 System Program Office (SPO), C-17 Partnership Office, C-17 System Support Management (SSM), and the Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC) Contracting Office at Robins AFB. During his career in the C-141 SPO, Chuck served as program manager for several weapon system modification programs including the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS). Throughout his tenure in the C-17 Partnership Office and the C-17 SSM, Chuck served as program manager for Depot Activation of C-17 workload. While in AFSC Contracting, Chuck served as program manager for Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contracts (IDIQ) which provide essential engineering support plus weapon system support. Chuck’s expertise assisted Robins AFB in acquiring critically needed engineering support at Robins AFB. In addition to assisting Robins AFB to obtain engineering support, Chuck supported DoD gain weapon system, system and sub-system modification, and repair support. The total values of the contracts were in excess of $7 billion. Chuck has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Georgia College & State University.

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Mr. Daniel Edwards

Technical Director

Daniel serves as the Technical Director for the Fixed Wing, Software and Cybersecurity, and Reliability/Logistics product areas at MERC. He supervises a team of 120+ engineers, scientists, and analysts in supporting the Department of Defense and commercial customers. He serves on the board of the Central Georgia Chapter of NDIA and volunteers with local schools advocating for STEM education.

Daniel graduated from Mercer University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2003 and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2019. He began his engineering career at MERC in 2002 as an engineering intern before taking a full-time engineering role in 2003. Daniel has spent the majority of his career supporting aircraft structural and mechanical system development and weapon systems integrity programs (MIL-STD-1530D and 1798C), airworthiness and system safety programs (MIL-HDBK-516C and MIL-STD-882E), and flight instrumentation development. His experience covers a variety of aircraft, including the E-8 Joint STARS (JSTARS), C-130 (including SOF variants), F-15, H-60, UH-1, P-8A, and C-5 aircraft. Daniel co-authored the AC-130W Gun Boot Analysis and Design presentation at the 2011 Aircraft Structural Integrity Program (ASIP) Conference and authored a C-130 Force Structural Maintenance Plan (FSMP) revision presentation at the 2012 ASIP Conference.

Mr. Gerry Ringe

Technical Director

Gerry serves as the Technical Director for the Electronic Warfare, Electrical and Avionics, Mechanical, and Rotary Wing product areas after rejoining MERC in March 2021. He supervises a team of 110+ engineers, scientists, and analysts in supporting the Department of Defense and commercial customers.

Gerry graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1996 and from Clemson University with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1998, after completing his thesis within the motorsports program.

Prior to joining MERC in 2003, Gerry spent 5 years as an automotive test engineer working for Delphi Automotive Systems and then INA USA. From 2003 to 2018, Gerry supported a variety of MERC efforts including ground support; fixed and rotary wing aircraft maintenance; nondestructive inspection development; corrosion studies; mechanical and aerospace design; industrial engineering; structural testing; reliability engineering; and ergonomics. His experience includes working with the C-130, HH-60, UH-1N, TH-1H, E-8 Joint STARS (JSTARS), F-15, ground support equipment, WR-ALC maintenance operations, and various commercial aerospace companies.

In 2018, Gerry accepted an automotive engineering opportunity with the Blue Bird Corporation as the Director of Government Specifications and Testing. He supported a team of engineers and technical specialists responsible for state and federal regulation compliance, recall administration, litigation investigations, prototype fabrication, and certification testing.

Ms. Alyson Koch

Chief Engineer - Fixed Wing

Alyson Koch is the Chief Engineer for the Fixed Wing product area. She graduated from Mercer University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2009 and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2013. Alyson has worked on U.S. Air Force and Navy fighters, tankers, C2ISR, and mobility aircraft leading the development of USAF best-practice business system automation for airworthiness and system safety (MIL-HDBK-516 and MIL-STD-882), building and supporting weapon systems integrity programs, and leading development of full aircraft structural models and digital engineering tools. She led the airworthiness transition for a Foreign Military Sales/NATO C-130 fleet that maintained USAF-level compliance while developing partner nation capabilities to sustain the program.

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Mr. Brian Harper

Chief Engineer - Rotary Wing

In 1997, Brian began his engineering career at EMS Technologies working on satellite components for the XM and Sirius satellite systems. Before joining the MERC team in 2002, Brian worked at a startup fiber optic component company. He now serves as Chief Engineer of Rotary Wing Programs.

Brian completed a dual degree program in 1995, earning a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Furman University and a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.  Brian earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1997. He has 20 years of engineering experience in the areas of finite element analysis (FEA), mechanical design, and testing of aerospace structures and equipment. He has led the development of several global aircraft finite element models, Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS), and quick-turn analyses to support engineering disposition of in-service airframe issues. His aircraft experience includes H-60 and H-1 variants, C-130, CV-22, and F-15 aircraft. He has co-authored papers and made presentations at various technical conferences including the American Helicopter Society, Aircraft Structural Integrity Program conference, and Aircraft Airworthiness and Sustainment Conference.

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Mr. Charles Melvin

Chief Engineer - Electronics and Avionics

Charles has been involved in many facets of electronics and avionics systems development for over thirty years. He also has experience with verification and validation, qualification testing, flight testing, and sustainment activities. Charles graduated from Mercer University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1992 and a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1999. He began his career working in a startup environment developing a low cost industrial process control platform. He then migrated into the electronic warfare arena participating in the design of an advanced threat signal simulator product line. Charles also served as the technical lead for the integrated support station for the C-130 Self-Contained navigation system. He later served as the Chief Engineer for electromechanical actuations for Parker Hannifin Servo Controls Division.

Following his work at Parker, Charles was a founder for several firms involved in energy metering and management. He eventually sold his company in the energy field and joined MERC.

While at MERC, Charles led the creation of an energy management practice that has developed and deployed secure energy metering systems at multiple federal installations and provides systems and cybersecurity consultancy for energy and industrial systems. Charles now serves as the Chief Engineer for Electronics and Energy at MERC and continues to work in the aerospace field. Throughout his time at MERC, he has gained additional experience across a number of aircraft systems and platforms including focused work in navigation, radar, electronic warfare and fuel gauging systems.

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Mr. Jonathan Strunk

Chief Engineer - Mechanical

Jonathan is the Chief Engineer of Mechanical Programs at MERC. He began his career as an intern at MERC in 2003. In 2004, Jonathan earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Mercer University and accepted a full time engineering role at MERC. In 2010, Jonathan earned a master’s degree in engineering and technical management from Mercer University as well.

He has been involved in projects ranging from finite element analysis (FEA) and finite element method (FEM) to tooling design, instrumentation, and maneuverability testing. In his 15 years at MERC, Jonathan has gained hands-on experience in composite layup, strain gage installation, data acquisition, and material testing. His project experience has led him to work with bomb lifts and trailers, robotic work cells, many of the U.S. Air Force’s fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and other aircraft equipment. In his time at MERC, Jonathan has gained experience working with the E-8 Joint STARS (JSTARS), C-130 (including SOF variants), F-15, A-10, H-60, H-1, KC-135, C-5, and multiple ground support equipment and vehicles.

Today, Jonathan continues to develop expertise with MERC’s coordinate measurement machine (CMM) laser scanner and 3D printing, which are both instrumental in the reverse engineering process.

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Ms. Karen Brigance

Chief Engineer - Electronic Warfare

Karen serves as Chief Engineer for Electronic Warfare. She joined MERC after a 37-year civilian career with the U.S. Air Force.

Karen began her career as a project engineer assigned to the Electronic Warfare (EW) Directorate in 1982. She left EW in 1990 to work in Detachment 8, 2762 Logistics Squadron, where she became the program manager and engineer for several of the sensors and data links carried on the U-2 aircraft. In 1999, she became the Division Chief of the Exploitation Division in the U-2 Management Directorate. She provided worldwide support to the U-2 Dragon Lady’s associated ground processing stations, airborne sensors, and data links. In 2003, she left the U-2 to become the Avionics and Electronics Engineering Division Chief for the Engineering Directorate. She provided functional management and advocacy for over 750 electronics engineers, electrical engineers, computer engineers, and computer scientists working across Robins Air Force Base. Karen then moved to the 752 Combat Sustainment Group as Chief Engineer for Common Avionics in 2006. She transitioned to the position of Squadron Director when the common avionics group became part of the Air Force Global Logistics Center as the 407th Supply Chain Management Squadron in 2008. In 2010, Karen became the Chief Engineer for the Electronic Warfare and Common Avionics Division at Robins Air Force Base. She provided product support of electronic warfare and common avionics systems for our nation’s war fighters and allies.
Karen has a BSEE degree from Christian Brothers University and a master’s in Administration from Georgia College and State University. She completed two terms as president of the Dixie Crow chapter of the Association of Old Crows and is now serving as their current past president. She is also the current Southern Regional Director for the Association of Old Crows.

Mr. Steve Fairfield

Chief Engineer - Software and Cybersecurity

Steve serves as the Chief Engineer for the Software and Cybersecurity Product Area. Steve supervises a team of computer scientists, software engineers, computer engineers, and cybersecurity engineers in the execution of complex software system design, development, certification, and sustainment. His team’s experience includes USAF best-practices in digital engineering categories such as aircraft tracking and business process automation, as well as artificial intelligence/machine learning approaches to aircraft sustainment and process optimization.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Steve has more than 36 years of technical, logistics, program management, and Foreign Military Sales experience in both the military and civilian workforce. Steve joined MERC after serving as a Flight Chief, Section Chief, Branch Chief, and Sustainment System Manager for several U.S. Air Force program offices. As the Information System Owner (ISO) for the F-15C/D/E/EX, Steve led the fleet in efforts to develop and obtain an Authority to Operate (ATO) at the platform level.

Steve has an undergraduate degree in Information Technology from Middle Georgia State University; an MBA in Information Security from DeVry University, and a master’s in Information Technology. Steve is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Cybersecurity from Georgia Tech.