Jackie A. Ruller, Director, ETC

Jackie Ruller has worked in research, industry outreach, project management, intellectual property and higher education. Over the past ten years, she has participated in several aspects of higher ed from cultivating industry relationships, working with faculty and students, securing grant funding and sponsorships, serving on committees, managing events, developing curricular programs, scheduling courses, directing career services, supporting accreditation efforts, marketing, directing projects, creating workforce development programs and running the Excellence Training Center at YSU. Her passion for preparing the advanced manufacturing workforce for industry 4.0 led her to this position. She is the principal investigator on the Industry 4.0 Adoption in the SME Defense Supply Chain for Metal Castings research project for YSU as well as the Pathways to Careers-Improving Post-Secondary Education Options for Students with Developmental Disabilities grant, several TechCred grants, and a gift from Burton D. Morgan Foundation for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem for YSU students. Ms. Ruller has several technical publications including a patent, is a registered patent agent, received the 2018 NEO LaunchNet University Partner award and is a Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) alumnae. 

Ms. Ruller received a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s of Science from Alfred University in Ceramic Engineering and Glass Science, respectively. 

Michelle Seifert, Technical Director, Advanced Manufacturing and Facilities Engineering

Michelle Seifert is an accomplished engineer with a strong background in mechanical design and industrial engineering.

Her professional journey has included roles as a Process Mechanical Engineer, Mechanical Design Engineer, and Production Coordinator. She excelled in optimizing production processes, managing complex projects, and developed the ability to identify and mitigate risks while enhancing operational efficiency. For nearly a decade she worked at Fireline, Inc. where she designed and reverse-engineered various equipment and tooling, while focusing on enhancing manufacturing efficiency and ergonomics. Her proficiency in SolidWorks, fabrication and VFD drives set her apart as a skilled mechanical engineer.

Beyond her industrial experience, Michelle contributed to the academic world as a Ballistics Research Assistant and IT Assistant at Youngstown State University. She played a vital role in testing material samples for military and law enforcement applications utilizing cutting-edge technology for analysis.

Michelle Seifert’s dedication to engineering excellence, problem-solving skills, and diverse experience make her an asset in the field of mechanical engineering and industrial design.

Ms. Seifert has a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Youngstown State University.

Robert Philpot, Program Manager, Workforce Training – Industrial Electrical

Bob Philpot has an extensive background in the electrical and maintenance fields and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Excellence Training Center (ETC) and those he is teaching. He recently retired from Ford Motor Company with 30 years of experience as a journeyman industrial electrician. Bob also has over ten years of experience working as an electronics technician for Ford Aerospace and Communications at their research and development laboratories in San Jose, California and at Rockwell Automation in Cleveland, Ohio. Bob also worked as an adjunct professor for Kent State University’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering for five years prior to joining our team. He is currently leading the industrial electrical workforce training program developed for a company for western Pennsylvania. 

Bob received his Master of Technology from Kent State University. 

Frank A. Garcia, Program Manager, Workforce Training-Robotics

Frank is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in the manufacturing industry. With a strong background as a journeyman electrician, he has acquired extensive expertise in various aspects of automation. Throughout his career, Frank has worked on a diverse range of projects, demonstrating his versatility and adaptability. He has been actively involved in vehicle launches for renowned automotive brands, including the Chevy Cobalt, Chevy Cruze, and the highly acclaimed C8 Corvette in Bowling Green, Kentucky. His contributions to these teams have played a vital role in the successful launch of these groundbreaking vehicles. In addition to his hands-on work, Frank is also a dedicated educator. He has shared his knowledge and passion for the industry by teaching classes on topics such as PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), robotics, power distribution systems, and automatic guided vehicles. His ability to convey complex concepts in an accessible manner has made him a sought-after instructor in his field. One of the notable highlights in Frank’s career includes his involvement in a battery manufacturing startup. As a controls engineer at Ultium, based in Lordstown, Ohio, he played a crucial role in getting new equipment commissioned and brought online. His expertise in control systems and automation contributed significantly to the company's success in meeting production throughput requirements.

Frank has an associate’s degree in electrical technology from Newcastle School of Trades and is a journeyman electrician.

Jay J. Wargacki, Operations Manager

Jay Wargacki's experience lies heavily within various manufacturing methods including plastic injection molding, metal stamping, rubber compression and plastic extrusion tooling. He started his career as a Tool and Die apprentice and later worked his way up to a Tool Engineer at Delphi before coming to YSU. He also held positions as a CNC programmer, technical trainer and business development manager for additive parts for a product development firm. With an interest in prototyping, additive manufacturing processes have always held his interest and he considers them a unique set of tools within the much larger toolbox of manufacturing.

Jay received his Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with a double minor in Psychology and Studio Art along with his Associate of Technical Studies in Industrial Trades Technology from Kent State University. Having completed a four-year apprenticeship through the state of Ohio and Delphi, he is also a certified Tool and Die Maker.

Cynthia C. Manofsky, Business Administrator

Cynthia Manofsky comes to YSU with a deep knowledge and career background in the aerospace and fire/emergency services manufacturing industry. Her ability to establish relationships with key industry leaders has resulted in growth and retention within organizations.  

She will adapt her keen skills in strategic thinking and resource planning, as well as her acquired knowledge of government contract management, project administration and business development to support the activities of the Excellence Training Center at YSU. 

Cynthia holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a Master's of Business Administration.

John R. Carballo, CNC Programmer

John Carballo taught adult education at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center. He has also served as a machining instructor at New Castle School of Trades. Mr. Carballo has extensive experience in CAD/CAM and CNC programming, mahining, RTV mold making and casting. He started at Youngstwon State University's new Excellence Training Center in January 2022 to work exclusiely on the Mazak hybrid project. The Mazak system provides a hybrid printing technology that combines the simulataneous benefits of additive manufacturing with the advantages of subtractive manufacturing. 

John has a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Youngstown State University and an Associate degree in Machinist Technology from NCST. 

Andrew J. Prokop, Project Technician

Andrew Prokop has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science from Youngstown State University and currently working on his master’s degree. Mr. Prokop is currently working as a project technician on two research projects at YSU; the Industry 4.0 Adoption in the SME Defense Supply Chain for Metal Castings project funded by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Mazak hybrid project. 

Andrew previously worked on the  “Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low Cost Sustainment” (MAMLS)  project  as an undergraduate at YSU where he helped design aluminum castings and molds for legacy military vehicles. He is founder of the YSU American Foundry Society student chapter.  Andrew has worked for a plastic rotational and injection mold company designing new products and programming an automation cell.  Andy also previously worked at a diecasting foundry where he developed the process parameters for a family of molds to be used in permanent mold casting section of the company. 

Allison N. Rea, Project Technician

Allison Rea has a Bachelor Degree in Manufacturing Engineering and has recently defended her thesis for her MS degree in Mechanical Engineering at Youngstown State University. She is working as a project technician at the Excellence Training Center for the Industry 4.0 Adoption in the SME Defense Supply Chain for Metal Castings project funded by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).

Allison has experience working in the medical manufacturing industry as well as on research projects such as the “Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low Cost Sustainment” (MAMLS). She has extensive knowledge in additive manufacturing, especially polymer printing, CT Scanning and Robotics. Ms. Rea has spent time working with students of all ages, teaching them about additive manufacturing and robotics with the hope to inspire them to go into STEM

Kaari Wentz, Office Administrator

Kaari Wentz has an extensive background working in office administration, communications, and customer service. She has worked in material handling/purchasing at GM Lordstown, her own entrepreneurial e-commerce business, administrative secretarial work with Mahoning County Board of Development Disabilities, and as the Communications Administrator for a large local church. She will use her diverse work experience and strong organizational skills to provide excellent customer service and support to the Excellence Training Center.

Kaari has an Associate’s degree of Arts & Sciences from Kent State University.