Is it possible for software to understand and anticipate human reasoning? At SoarTech, we believe it is. We build intelligent systems for defense, government, and commercial applications that emulate human decision making in order to enhance user abilities – saving time, money, and lives.
Since 1998, we’ve studied and modeled many kinds of human behavior in order to create software that “thinks the way people think”: constantly learning, getting smarter, and adapting to new times and situations. Much of this scientific base is encoded within our computational cognitive architecture, which enables the creation of autonomous software agents that can reason over large amounts of human-level knowledge. The end result for users is a system that is not just a tool in their hands, but a thinking partner.
A BASIS IN KNOWLEDGE
Our work is rooted in cognitive science, a deep understanding of human perception, memory, performance, learning, and emotion. To this we add a careful analysis of domain knowledge, built into our systems so they work the way you work. We also design features to help users preserve and share knowledge, completing the knowledge cycle.
A FOCUS ON HUMAN BEHAVIOR
All of our software exists to help humans learn, think, and work better. We engineer our systems with the most natural and adaptable user interfaces possible so that the machine supports the human, not vice versa.
A HISTORY OF Artificial Intelligence
Soar Technology, Inc. (SoarTech) began operations in 1998 as a spin-off from the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Michigan, where its founding team developed TacAir-Soar from 1992-1997, under the leadership of Professor John E. Laird and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Synthetic Theatre of War (STOW) project. TacAir-Soar is a fully autonomous intelligent agent system that provides high-fidelity, realistic, entity-level behaviors for a wide range of aircraft and missions. When the university research phase concluded, SoarTech was formed with an initial contract to support the U.S. Air Force Warfighter Training Laboratory, providing TacAir-Soar synthetic aircraft for distributed mission training exercises.
Current customers include:
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)
Office of Naval Research (ONR)
Army Research Development and Engineering Command (RDEC)
Department of Transportation (DOT)
Other U.S. agencies
SoarTech has its main facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a satellite office in Orlando, Florida. It is an active member in the National Training Systems Association (NTSA) and National Defense Industry Association (NDIA), and actively participates in the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference (I/ITSEC), and the Behavior Representation in Modeling and Simulation (BRIMS) Conference.
At SoarTech, we believe that helping enhance human thinking doesn’t begin with software. It begins with humans. That is why we pride ourselves in bringing together the knowledge leaders to create unique and creative solutions to help solve challenges ranging from life saving to cost saving and beyond.
MICHAEL VAN LENT, PHD
PRESIDENT AND CEO
Dr. Michael van Lent leads research and development of artificial intelligence for training and serious games, transitioning research into engineered solutions. Dr. van Lent received a PhD at the University of Michigan in 2000. Prior to receiving his PhD, he worked at the Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence (NCARAI) at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He joined the Institute for Creative Technologies in 2001, where he became the Associate Director for Games Research and a Research Associate Professor in the Computer Science department at USC. Dr. van Lent has participated in the design and development of many immersive training applications including Full Spectrum Warrior, Full Spectrum Command, the Joint Fires and Effects Trainer System (JFETS), and ELECT BiLAT. He serves on various editorial boards and edits IEEE Computer’s Entertainment Computing Column.
DYLAN SCHMORROW, PHD
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF SCIENTIST
Dr. Dylan Schmorrow works to advance research and technology tracks, expand cross-collaboration among internal and external team members, and identify science and technology transition opportunities. Dr. Schmorrow holds a doctorate in Experimental Psychology from Western Michigan University, as well as four Masters Degrees in areas including Operations Research and Modeling and Simulation. He recently retired as a U.S. Navy Captain after 20 years of service where he was an Acquisition Professional in the Naval Acquisition Corps and the U.S. National Leader for DoD’s international participation involving the human sciences to enhance the human contribution to military systems performance. Additional past service includes Deputy Director, Human Performance, Training, and BioSystems at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Program Manager for DARPA, Research Scientist at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Chief Scientist for Human-Technology Integration at the Naval Research Lab, Executive Secretary for the Defense Science Board Task Force on the Role of Autonomy in DoD Systems, Program Officer at the Office of Naval Research, and Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Research. He is a recipient of the Navy’s Top Scientists and Engineers Award and has received several professional and military awards for transforming promising technologies into operational capabilities.
VICE PRESIDENT OF UNMANNED PLATFORMS
Mr. Andrew Dallas oversees the company’s Autonomous Platforms business area. Mr. Dallas brings over thirty years of extensive executive experience in the federal government. He is a founding member of the National Advanced Mobility Consortium (NAMC) and previously served as its President. As part of this capacity he works towards transitioning robotics research into the field. Mr. Dallas also served as a senior consultant on the State of Michigan’s 21st Century Job Fund which was created to help diversify and grow Michigan’s high-tech economy by investing in: basic research at universities and non-profit research institutions; applied research at small business; university technology transfer; and the commercialization of products, processes and services. Prior to joining Soar Technology, Inc., he held senior positions at the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, where he played a leading role in the research, development, and advancement of Information Technologies to support the maritime community. Mr. Dallas was also a senior analyst and a personal assistant to the Commander, Second Fleet where he designed, tested, and implemented warfighting processes adapted for use in large multinational operations, and was awarded a Letter of Commendation for helping to transition Naval operations from the Cold War to the new asymmetrical threat. In the private sector, Mr. Dallas directed business activities relating to the federal government for Saffron Technology and for Veridian ERIM International, leading the creation of information technology supporting data collection, information sharing and knowledge generation. Mr. Dallas holds BSE (1979) and MSE (1986) degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Denise Nicholson, PHD
VICE PRESIDENT OF INTELLIGENT TRAINING AND Director of X
Dr. Denise Nicholson, is leading the eXploration of new intelligent systems applications with potential for long-term growth. Dr. Nicholson has a unique blend of over 25 years of government, academia and industry experience. She began her government career as an engineer with the USAF’s 485th Communications Group, Intrusion Detection Branch, before being selected for a research position at AFRL’s Rome Photonics Lab, Signal Processing Division, and eventually rose to be the Deputy Director of Science & Technology at NAVAIR Training Systems Division. Dr. Nicholson founded the Applied Cognition and Training in Immersive Virtual Environments Laboratory at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training, where she also held joint affiliations in the Modeling and Simulation Graduate Program, Industrial Engineering and Management Department and the College of Optics and Photonics/CREOL. Before joining SoarTech, Dr. Nicholson transitioned to industry as the founding Director of DSCI’s Human Systems Engineering Division. She has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona, a B.S. in Electrical Computer Engineering from Clarkson University and is a Certified Modeling and Simulation Professional (CMSP). With over 100 multidisciplinary publications, Denise was a founding Co-Chair of the Augmented Cognition International (ACI) and AHFE’s Cross-Cultural Decision Making Conference and is currently Co-Chair of the AHFE 2016 Human Factors in Cyber Security Conference.
VICE PRESIDENT OF FINANCE
Mr. Charlie Kola leads Finance & Accounting at Soar Technology, Inc. and its subsidiaries. He is responsible for the company’s overall financial management function, including the controllership, planning & analysis, treasury, financial business systems, and taxation. Prior to joining SoarTech, Mr. Kola served as Vice President of Finance for an Alaskan-Native Corporation, managing 30+ government contracts across multiple locations. He has also served as Controller and Vice President of Finance for a Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SDVOSB) Company that grew to $1B+ in cost-plus, T&M, fixed-price contracts, supporting military operations across 13 countries. As a consulting Senior Financial Executive, Mr. Kola provided finance, accounting, and regulatory compliance guidance to a wide range of small to medium sized government contractors. He holds a Bachelors in Finance & Business from Franklin University, a Masters in Financial Economics from Ohio University, and an inactive Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license in the State of Ohio. Mr. Kola is also a 2011 graduate of the Executive Development Program at The Wharton School.
VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS
Ms. Laura Schwennesen manages Soar Technology’s suite of government contracts. This includes both proposal support and contract management. Contract management activities include a cradle to grave approach encompassing all aspects of the contract lifecycle from negotiation to closeout. Prior to joining Soar Technology, Inc., Ms. Schwennesen was employed by Altarum Institute where she led a team who jointly submitted over 200 proposals annually and managed a book of business of over $70 million. Ms. Schwennesen has over 20 years of federal and commercial contracting experience. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University and is an accredited Contract Manager from the National Contract Management Association.
DIRECTOR, HUMAN RESOURCES
Ms. Kari Olds leads Human Resources for Soar Technology, Inc. She is responsible for developing and administering the programs, policies, and procedures that support the team who make it possible for the company’s goals to be not only reached, but exceeded with excellence. The functional components under the Human Resources umbrella include talent acquisition, compensation, benefits administration, training and development, employee relations, safety, HR compliance and goals/strategies/objectives setting. Ms. Olds has worked in a wide range of industries including medical device, insurance, advertising and long-term care/healthcare. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University, a Master of Art in Industrial Relations from Wayne State University and a Master of Science in Human Resources Development from Eastern Michigan University. Her professional certifications include: PHR and SHRM-CP. Ms. Olds was a founding member of the Livingston Area Human Resources Association and served as its Secretary of the Board.
DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY
Ms. Kris Kearns is Director of Strategy for SoarTech’s Autonomous Platforms business area. She oversees technology development, strives to enhance customer interactions, and manages SoarTech’s Dayton office. Prior to joining the SoarTech team, Ms. Kearns spent 28 years in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). There she held various positions in the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, as the NonMetallic Materials Division Chief and the Chief of the Nano-Bio Materials Branch; in AFRL’s Plans and Programs Directorate in Systems Engineering and Program Management; and finally, in the Airman Systems Directorate as AFRL’s Autonomy Lead. She served as the DoD Chair for the Autonomy Science & Technology Community of Interest, where she was responsible for coordinating the research and development efforts across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Ms. Kearns holds a MS in Materials Engineering and BChE from the University of Dayton in Ohio, and is a graduate of the AF’s Air War College.
DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
Ms. Jeri Hessman is Director of Government Relations for SoarTech’s Cybersecurity business area. She is responsible for identifying gaps and needs in the market for the group’s research and technologies and works to support and enable SoarTech’s cyber researchers in building world-class R&D programs, develop strategic and tactical plans to build and expand relationships with key clients and to initiate new business through strategic partnerships. Ms. Hessman’s experience includes work on Capital Hill and with the National Institute of Justice, the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. She has served on the staff of the Special Capabilities Office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and on the leadership team of the Cybersecurity Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate. Ms. Hessman has also worked as a senior analyst in support of the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate’s Office of Strategy and Policy and its joint programs with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and OSD. Most recently, she was a technical SETA within the Information Innovation Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She attended Seton Hill College and the American University School of International Service.
ROBERT SOTTILARE, PHD
Dr. Robert A. Sottilare, Science Director for Intelligent Training, comes to SoarTech after completing a 35-year career in federal service in both Army and Navy training science and technology organizations. Most recently, he led adaptive training research at the US Army Research Laboratory where the focus of his research was automated authoring, instructional management, and analysis tools and methods for intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs). He is a co-creator of the Generalized Intelligent Framework for Tutoring (GIFT), an open source, AI-based adaptive instructional architecture. Dr. Sottilare was the lead editor for the Design Recommendations for Intelligent Tutoring Systems book series, founding director of the Learning in Intelligent Tutoring Environments (LITE) lab, and founding chair of GIFT Users Symposia. He was also the founding director of the Simulation & Training Technology Center. Dr. Sottilare has authored over 200 technical publications with over 1300 citations in the last five years. Recently, he was appointed chair of the newly formed IEEE Working Group on Adaptive Instruction System (AIS) Standards. He has a long history of participation in international scientific fora including NATO research task groups and the Technical Cooperation Program. He also is a recipient of the Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service (2008), and two lifetime achievement awards in Modeling & Simulation: US Army RDECOM (2012; inaugural recipient) and National Training & Simulation Association (2015).
DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Mr. Chris Ransom, CISSP, CISA, leads the information technology department and is responsible for providing technology services, information assurance, and cybersecurity. Mr. Ransom is a retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant. He completed his Marine Corps career as a Communications Chief for Combat Logistics Regiment 2. During his 20-year career as an active duty Marine Mr. Ransom completed numerous overseas deployments and led the implementation of many complex communications networks, some spanning multiple branches of military and some spanning multiple nations. Mr. Ransom holds a M.S. in Cybersecurity from the University of Maryland University College.