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Advisory Board

STEM is an educational response to provide our nation with globally competitive graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Advisory Board of Sonoran Schools exists to guide, promote, advise, and support the organization in achieving its vision, actualizing its mission, and continually improving the quality of the STEM education it provides to Arizona students.

Our Purpose

Serve as a sounding board on STEM planning, new programs, and initiatives

Advocate with the broader community regarding the importance of the organization’s STEM and college/career readiness focus, and its commitment to serving under-represented/at-risk populations

Build awareness of the organization’s purpose by brokering opportunities for students and staff to interact with business, industry, post secondary education, government, and educational non-profit communities

Identify and connect the organization to resources that support its mission, including mentorship and internship opportunities for students and alumni, including integrated, immersive, and experiential learning opportunities

Facilitate opportunities for industry visits, site-based and school-based, focused on career awareness

Identify and foster industry-school partnership opportunities with Phoenix and Tucson metro area companies that have career paths in STEM disciplines

Identify and communicate potential resources and funding opportunities and, where appropriate, assist or provide guidance in pursuing such

Facilitate opportunities to bring STEM-focused, real-world, authentic projects into the classroom

Engage in community advocacy for the purposes of increasing:
– student and parent awareness of the multitude of STEM careers
– the engagement in STEM of under-represented student groups
– the percentage of graduating seniors committed to pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Our Board Members


Steven G. Zylstra Sc.D. (Hon.)

Technology Councils of North America

Steven G. Zylstra Sc.D. (Hon.) is president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, a role he assumed in December of 2007. He is responsible for strategy, development, operations and accomplishment of policy development, business goals and objectives and all financial matters related to the council. Zylstra is a vocal spokesman for the value technology can provide in raising social and economic standards in Arizona. He is a leading advocate for improving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

From 2000 to 2007, Zylstra served as president and CEO of both Catalyst Connection and the Pittsburgh Technology Council. He concurrently served as president and CEO of the Pennsylvania NanoMaterials Commercialization Center and the Doyle Center for Manufacturing Technology, both tech-based economic development-focused organizations. Additionally, Zylstra was president of the Pittsburgh Biomedical Development Corporation, an affiliated organization of the Pittsburgh Technology Council that invests in start-up biomedical and biotechnology companies.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Automotive Engineering Technology from Western Michigan University, Zylstra was employed as a design engineer for the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, as a design engineer for Ford Aerospace; Communications Corporation in Newport Beach, California, and as a senior design engineer and technical manager for Bendix Guidance Systems in Teterboro, New Jersey. From 1984 to 1995, Zylstra was general manager of General Pneumatics Corporation, Western Research Center, in Scottsdale, Arizona; during his tenure the company was granted 19 Small Business Innovative Research program awards.

He was a co-founder and member of the Governor’s Arizona Science and Technology Council in the 1980s and 90s, and a member of the Governor’s Arizona Partnership forthe New Economy. He is a past director of the Arizona Technology Development Authority and member of the Governor’s Council for Workforce Development Policy. AtArizona State University, Zylstra chaired the industry advisory council of ASU’s Corporate Leaders Program, and was a director of the Research Park in Tempe.

Assistant Professor

Dr. Timothy B. Holt, FRAeS, C.M.

College of Business
Program Chair, M.S. in Management
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Dr. Holt is Program Chair for the Master of Science in Management Program and Assistant Professor of Aeronautics for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Northcentral University, a Masters 
Degree in Aeronautical Science and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Professional Aeronautics, from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Previously, as the Director of High School Initiatives, he was responsible for the creation and administration of a National Dual Enrollment program.

Before joining Embry-Riddle, Tim served a distinguished, 22 year career in the U.S. Navy, receiving numerous awards and decorations, including the Navy ommendation medal and the War on Terrorism Service Medal. Times last assignment was Director of the Reserve Helicopter Training School in San Diego, California, where he taught helicopter operations, search and rescue, SEAL Team insertion/extraction tactics, and was the MH-60S program manager.

He has developed and instructed courses pertaining to aviation and public safety and has authored aviation security programs, emergency response procedures guides, aviation internal self-evaluation checklists, and hurricane evacuation plans for numerous organizations. He is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives, associate member of the International Society for Air Safety Investigators, and lifetime member of VP International. He is also a state of Arizona licensed teacher with endorsements in secondary English, History, and Career and Technical Education.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace. It is the only fully-accedited, aviation-oriented university in the world.


Caroline VanIngen-Dunn

SFAz STEM Initiatives

Caroline VanIngen-Dunn combines a 20-year career in engineering research and STEM education program development, implementation and management. She first worked for Simula Inc. before starting her consulting business, CVID Consulting Services, LLC where for ten years she provided biomechanical engineering expertise, project management skills, and developed, implemented and managed a number of STEM education programs and initiatives. Her clients included Arizona State University, Maricopa Community Colleges, Arizona Science Center, Arizona Department of Commerce, Avnet, ArmorWorks and Simula to name a few.

Now, as Manager of SFAz STEM Initiatives, Ms. VanIngen-Dunn is lending her
expertise to help startup, build and manage the statewide STEM education network and programs. She obtained her Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and her BSE in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa. Ms. VanIngen-Dunn serves on the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering Advisory Board, a Fellow Life Member of the Society of Women Engineers, and Past President of the East Valley National Charity League.

Festival Director

Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D.

Arizona Scitech

Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D., coordinates logistics related to the AZSciTech Festival and its signature events, hub and in-field science confirmations, along with year-round science coordination and communications. Babendure attributes his enthusiasm for directing the annual festival to the fact that through the festival format comes an opportunity to position Arizona as an emerging world leader in science, technology and innovation. Babendure sees the festival as a chance to offer a highly visible platform to pull together academia, businesses and the K-12 educational system to collectively work toward growing a competitive workforce and strengthening Arizona’s economic future.

Jeremy grew up in Scottsdale, is a product of the Arizona school system, and received a Flinn Scholarship to continue his studies at Arizona State University, where he developed molecular sensors for the binding of histone proteins to DNA. He continued his research at the University of California San Diego in the lab of Nobel Laureate Dr. Roger Y. Tsien. After graduating with a doctorate in Biomedical Sciences, Jeremy and Dr. Tsein launched the ScienceBridge program, bringing current science to students, teachers and the general public. In the course of four years, Jeremy led ScienceBridge from concept to one of the strongest educational outreach operations in San Diego.

Arizona Regional Manager

Matt West

Backbone Communications

Matt has been in education since receiving his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University in 2000. He was a certified teacher and taught for seven years in the Phoenix area. Outside of the classroom Matt has served as technology coordinator, curriculum specialist, and AIMS test coordinator at different schools.

He also coached girls and boys sports before joining Backbone Communications. Matt is currently finishing his Masters Degree in Educational Leadership. He uses his classroom and leadership experiences to help schools implement and use software as a powerful educational tool.

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