Distinguished Speakers

A few times a month, entrepreneurs, inventors and industry experts are invited to the Weiss Tech House to provide seminars, talks, and in some cases, mentoring services to our undergraduates. For upcoming speaker events click here.


Past Speakers Include:

Jim Tavares
Service Provider (SP) Architecture and Systems group
Cisco Systems, Inc.
October 22, 2007: IEEE/WTH Mentoring Dinner: Cisco Systems Inc.

Jim was both a Penn Undergraduate (Electrical Engineering – 1988), and Penn Graduate Student (Systems Engineering – 1992). He has 19 years in the telecommunications / computer communications industry. He has worked at some of the largest companies in the industry, including Cisco and Lucent, and at smaller companies / startups as well. Jim was the Vice President of Marketing at Dynamicsoft, which built infrastructure for 3G wireless carriers. Dynamicsoft was acquired by Cisco in 2004. At Cisco, Jim builds next advanced communications platforms and applications which are used by wireless & broadband carriers around the world.


John J. Calvert
Supervisory Patent Examiner, Technology Center 3700
United States Patent and Trademark Office
October 2, 2007: Intellectual Property Strategy: What You Can Do To Protect Your Valuable Intellectual Property

Since October 1998, John has been responsible for supervising as many as 21 examiners in the area of textile technology in Art Unit 3765.

John graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Textile Technology in May 1971. He worked for Milliken and Co. and J. P. Stevens in various management positions including Division Director of Human Resources Development before returning to N.C. State University to pursue a Master of Science Degree in Textile Management. In February of 1990, John joined the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as an examiner in Group 240 specializing in textile technology. In February 1995, John became a Primary Examiner. Since then he has worked on detail as a Petitions Examiner. John also was selected for work assignment in the Search and Information Resources Administration where he worked in PALM as liaison between the Office of Patent Legal Administration and SIRA instituting changes reflective of changes in patent rules and formulating changes in the manner in which OIPE communicates with the customer. He also served as Sr. Project Manager for the Office of Electronic Patent Application Processing dealing with changes in the patent application format bringing a standard application format into compliance with US practice, the Patent Law Treaty and PCT.

As the former Acting Director for the Office of Independent Inventor Programs, John remains actively involved with the ongoing campaign to educate inventors about invention promotion firms and will continue to expand the outreach initiative to the inventor community.

Mr. Calvert has received numerous achievement awards, including the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal for superior Federal service and the United States Patent and Trademark Office Exceptional Career Award. Mr. Calvert completed studies in the Syracuse University, Maxwell School certificates program of Advanced Public Management and completed the Executive Development Seminar sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management.


Dr. Katie Rodan
ProActiv(R) Solution
September 27, 2007: ProActiv(R) Solution Talk

Dr. Rodan’s entrepreneurial experience with ProActiv(R) Solution began more than 20 years ago when she met Dr. Fields during their dermatology residencies at Stanford University. Both doctors felt strongly about the importance of finding a better treatment for acne and they stayed in touch after establishing their own private practices. This shared commitment and drive led them to create ProActiv(R) Solution and address a considerable unmet medical need for their patients. Entrepreneurial success followed as the doctors were able to translate that medical need into market demand.


Michael Aronson
MentorTech Ventures
November 6, 2006: Venture Capital Series

Michael Aronson has 25 years as entrepreneur and investor with significant expertise in company formation around business school concepts, software development, capital raising, strategic alliances and joint ventures, financial reporting and tax issues, executive compensation, employment matters and copyright law. Co-founder, CFO, EVP & Board Member of SMG, Inc., a $28M simulation software company, named three times to “Inc. 500” fastest growing companies list. He is currently a Managing Partner at MentorTech Ventures, early stage investment firm. He has been a Board, Executive and Investment Committee Member for 15+ years, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Michael Aronson can be found at www.mentortechventures.com


Orly Zeewy
Brand Identity Consultant
March 23, 2006

Orly Zeewy is a brand identity specialist and communications strategist with 25 years of experience in design, brand strategy and marketing communications. She is the recipient of numerous awards and her identity work has been widely published both nationally and internationally. Clients have included Kraft General Foods, Astra/Merck, The Print Center, The Arthur Ross Gallery at The University of Pennsylvania, Titan North America and Prince Manufacturing, Inc. Orly Zeewy is an adjunct professor at Philadelphia University and a frequent guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. Orly’s article “Marketing Does not make a Brand” was featured in the January 25th issue of the Philadelphia Business Journal. Orly is a graduate of the top ranked Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning and is bilingual in French and English. To learn more about Orly Zeewy, Brand Identity Consultant: http://www.zeewy.com/about.html


Other Speakers Include:

Alan Cook, Founder of 726 Ventures
Bill Dresselhaus, IDSA
Josh Kopelman, Founder of Half.com
Shawn Marcell, Acting CEO and COO of Linguagen Corp
Jay Minkoff, President and CEO of First Flavor, Inc.
Marilyn Montross, Director Vendor Relations, QVC
Jason Olim, Founder of CDNow
John Osher, Inventor of the Crest Spinbrush
Roger Schiffman, founder of Zizzle and the Furby doll
Jeff Smith, Founder and CEO of Lunar Design
Jon Spector, former Director at McKinsey & Company
Janet Stites, Founder of AlleyCat News
Ron Wilson, Former Founder of 180’s Inc