The Team

Hello! We are team CraterGrader! We excel as a team due to our collaborative work ethic and multidisciplinary experiences and interests. Read more about our backgrounds below!

Early perception and unpowered mobility testing!

John Harrington

John is a roboticist at heart, and a human in his core. Coming from a broad background in dexterous robotics, aerospace, and green energy development he is always looking to work on challenging problems that produce real solutions that help people. His previous work in leading software development for small teams has led to great success, and he leverages this experience in developing CraterGrader’s autonomy. For CraterGrader, John focuses on integrating perception and planning into the platform, and enjoys hardware development to bring robotic solutions into the real world.  

Outside of work, John likes to explore the culinary world and can often be seen experimenting with new ingredients and recipes. When time permits, John can be found camping and hiking! 

Ryan Lee

Ryan loves working on robotic systems and looks forward to the future that robots & humans can collaboratively flourish in. With capable robots that can understand its environment and effective interaction, societal efficacy can reach unprecedented heights.

With a background in mechatronics engineering, research in human-robot interaction and computer vision, and work experience in a variety of robots, he hopes to bring his knowledge to the forefront of robotics innovation. Starting with CraterGrader’s mission to strategically flatten and smooth lunar surfaces, Ryan will be primarily focusing on robotic perception and hardware integration.

In his spare time, he loves playing sports such as volleyball and badminton, playing/learning instruments, board games, and picking up new hobbies!

Alex Pletta

Alex tackles complex real world problems with automated technology through machine learning and controls engineering for robotics. Alex’s goal is to further enhance human transportation, both on earth and beyond. He carries strong experience in on-road and off-road autonomous vehicles from work and research opportunities and is now expanding into construction for space robotics and sustainable infrastructure. Alex has powerful understanding of both software engineering and mechanical engineering making him extremely versatile both in breadth and depth. He specializes in software for behavior and motion planning and is very interested in applying online machine learning methods to make such planning more robust to dynamic and uncertain environments.

On the CraterGrader team, Alex is playing a crucial role in developing the team’s software architecture, networking, and development environments in addition to implementing and evaluating mapping and planning algorithms.

Outside of work Alex is a curious learner with a passion for adventure and pushing himself in new ways! On weekends you can find him rock climbing, exploring the city or planning a new trip, and learning new board games with friends!

Russell Wong

Russell is a seasoned software engineer with a strong passion for robotics and machine learning. He brings a breadth of professional programming experience and knowledge across all parts of the autonomy stack, from the likes of Apple, Lyft, and countless startups. His background in developing software for mobile robots and self-driving vehicles has proven to be instrumental in bringing up CraterGrader’s autonomous capabilities.

Russell’s responsibilities within CraterGrader include leveraging his industry-level experience towards software architecture design, best practices, and guiding implementation with ROS2. On the development front, Russell supports a number of subsystems including mapping, localization, perception, and sensors.

When he is not busy building robots, Russell can often be found hiking through nature, shooting photography, or playing musical instruments. Russell very much enjoys learning new skills, and is always open to trying new things!

Ben Younes

Ben is one part Archimedian, one part Shakespearian. He draws upon an endless catalog of projects and has strong subject matter expertise around the technical spectrum. Coming from an aerospace robotics background, Ben has been in the trenches, putting things on other planets, drilling on Jovian moons, helping touch comets, and more. He has led teams of engineers, postdocs and students to technical success and loves managing worthwhile technical endeavors.