Control system engineer Allen Ibara works on one of the most demanding challenges of the technology – assuring that system controls, electronics and software work well.
Allen’s job consists of designing, building, integrating and testing computer control systems for Joby Energy airborne wind energy vehicles.
“These days I’m mainly involved with integrating the hardware, electronics, and software that fly the vehicles,” Ibara said. “Basically, I’m focused on taking the algorithms and electronics our team produces and packaging them together into a vehicle.”
Allen said that his main task of “programming the vehicle” involves loading new software, which is not an easy task given that the R&D process means continual changes.
“We are constantly making iterations to the software, as we experiment with new airframes, develop control algorithms, tweak performance,” Allen said. “It’s common for us to program the vehicle in the field between flights -- in addition to doing longer development cycles over days or weeks as we bring new vehicles online.”
According to Allen, the Joby Energy system is comprised of multiple processors for different functions that are programmed independently.
“The motor controllers have their own software and some sensors are likely to have their own processor, and thus their own software,” he said. “Even the central ‘system control’ has multiple processors (for performance and reliability) and it’s possible that the number of processors will grow over time as we add functionality.”
Allen considers himself fortunate to contribute to the Joby Energy team as a whole and enjoys the flexibility and variety of his job.
“One reason I enjoy focusing on system integration is that it gives me an opportunity to work with just about everyone at some point in the process,” Allen said. “Our structure tends to be very informal and highly peer-to-peer and I’m not really even sure where we would define one team to end and the next to begin.”
Ibara is one of the “old-timers” in the company – he started working part-time in June 2008 and joined the team full-time a few months later.
Allen was a software developer and IT manager for several San Francisco bay area firms prior to joining the Company. He received a B.S. in computer science from the University of California, San Diego.
Allen lives in Bonny Doon, CA with his two dogs, Buddy and Cleo -- who enjoy roaming the Joby Energy campus and doing tricks for treats. He is currently taking flight lessons and expects to earn a private pilot license within the next few months. Allen also enjoys hiking and is Joby Energy’s chief photographer.
Guillermo Gonzalez, chief electronics technician at Joby Energy, approaches his work with a high degree of calm and competence. At a start-up, these qualities can make all the difference when the pressure is on.
“He is an invaluable team player with an abundance of talent,” senior engineer Diederik Marius said. “In this environment, it also helps that he’s so easy to work with.”
Guillermo’s work repertoire includes building electronic prototypes, troubleshooting circuit boards, and programming and testing motor controllers. Guillermo is also involved in assembling and repair of prototypes and ensuring electronics materials safety and quality control.
For Guillermo, the diversity of his work and the fast-changing environment of the Company is exciting, enjoyable and sometimes – a bit challenging.
“There’s always something new to work on as we’re moving forward -- things change rapidly and I always look forward to new projects,” he said.
As the most experienced electronics technician on staff, Guillermo collaborates with several engineers who noted his flexibility and reliability.
“Guillermo is an invaluable team player,” electronics engineer Henry Hallum said. “He works closely with a number of engineers and effectively and efficiently manages multiple demands.”
In addition to Marius and Hallum, Guillermo works with engineers Allen Ibara, Piotr Esden-Tempski, and Richard Hatano.
Before joining Joby Energy in October 2009, Gonzalez gained solid training and experience in electronics, software and CNC machining at several San Francisco Bay-area companies.
Guillermo enjoys spending family time with wife Bibiana Gonzelez, four-year-old Guillermo II and two-year-old Diego. “During my spare time, I like to be with my wife and boys doing something fun.”
In addition to his work at Joby Energy, Guillermo is studying industrial design at De Anza College and expects to earn his B.S. degree in 2011.
Judi Paap is the accounting manager and brings two decades of accounting and management experience. Judi is a highly experienced accounting professional and studied at the University of California Santa Cruz.
Pranay Sinha earned a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering in May 2010 from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pranay works on aero design.
Greg Horn received his B.S. in Physics from University of California Santa Cruz and is currently on leave from Stanford University where he is a second-year Masters student focusing on dynamics, estimation and controls. Greg is a member of the Joby Energy controls team.
Rama Polefka, a University of California - Davis mechanical engineering graduate and former Joby Inc. employee, joined Joby Energy as Director of IT. Rama also works with the Business Development Team on special assignments.