Carnegie Mellon University

2021-2022 James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows

Maxine AttobrahMaxine Attobrah

Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Engineering Technology & Innovation Management, Carnegie Institute of Technology

Maxine is a dual-degree engineering graduate student at Carnegie Institute of Technology majoring in Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Engineering Technology & Innovation Management. Originally from Yonkers, NY, she graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a bachelors of science in Electrical Engineering. After graduating Maxine worked at Lockheed Martin as an electronic flight controls engineer helping to test and develop control system software for helicopters used by the military.

From there as she transitioned furthering her education at CMU, she interned at Johnson and Johnson and developed automated software for identifying security vulnerabilities and providing quicker identification of high risk applications to improve company response time.

Overall, Maxine has strived to make contributions in the intersection of technology, business, art and culture. She has developed CompassionateSynergy, a company utilizing XR technology CompassionateSynergy is currently available in Apple Store and Google Play Store!

She also believes that one of the ways to generational wealth is through entrepreneurship. Living in commitment to this belief, she has developed InvestinKin, Alternative Investments Club, which provides unique opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups looking to find potential investors, capital and partners. The forum has had over 500 participants and been featured in news articles.

Her aspiration is to own multiple profitable companies as an entrepreneur and investor through acquisitions, founding startups, board member positions and investments.

In her free-time Maxine enjoys going to art galleries/museums, building legos, hanging out with friends and family, working out, reading books and building new technologies.

Maxine's LinkedIn

Alex CusellAlexandra Cusell

Masters of Science in Technology Ventures, Integrated Innovation Institute

Alex earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. During her undergraduate career, Alex founded many organizations on campus, all of which centered around empowering minorities to get involved in coding. She was also elected and served as President of three different organizations during her four years at UCF. After graduation, Alex worked at L3Harris Technologies as an Associate Software Engineer. She focused on front-end web development as well as system architecture design. Alex is now pursuing her master’s degree at the CMU Silicon Valley campus.

Alex is unwavering in her ambitions to have her own startup. She is passionate about developing groundbreaking solutions that will revolutionize the world around us. She has a strong interest in environmentally focused and female-centered design. Alex is currently working on developing a fintech application that will improve many aspects of the way we pay for things, including eliminating the need to produce high-density plastic cards. During her free time, Alex enjoys traveling, trying new foods, spending time with her fiancé and goldendoodle and meeting new people.

Alexandra's LinkedIn

Christopher ElstonChristopher Elston

Masters in Business Administration, Tepper School of Business

Chris is a first-year MBA candidate at the Tepper School of Business. Prior to enrolling at Tepper, Chris received his undergraduate degree in Finance from Michigan State University. After graduating from Michigan State, he spent seven years working in the automotive industry for large tier 1 automotive manufacturing firms, Federal-Mogul and Tenneco. During his time in the automotive industry, Chris had the opportunity to work in a variety of roles and functions in both the manufacturing and corporate setting. Most recently, Chris served as an internal consultant focused on driving operational excellence in key business lines. He was responsible for the planning, implementation and realization of the organization’s key strategic programs.

His entrepreneurial interests lie within the healthcare environment, with a long-term goal of owning and operating a healthcare organization with his wife, Cara, who is a geriatric physician. Outside of the healthcare industry, sustainability is an area that piques his interest. Hailing from the automotive industry, the transition to electric vehicles fascinates Chris. The opportunity to get involved with a battery start up and leverage his passion for entrepreneurship, sustainability and his automotive background excites him. During his time at CMU, Chris looks forward to honing his skills further and taking advantage of all the CMU entrepreneurship ecosystem has to offer!

Outside of work and academics – Chris enjoys cooking and hosting family and friends. Recently he has gotten into making homemade ravioli, casing sausage and smoking meats. To him, nothing beats waking up at the crack of dawn to fire up the smoker, tossing on a 14lb brisket, and having friends over to watch the Michigan State Spartans. Throw in a couple cocktails and you have got the recipe for Chris’ perfect Saturday!

If you’d like to get to know Chris (and potentially try some of his amazing cooking), please feel free to reach out!

Chris' LinkedIn

Ketaki GhatoleKetaki Ghatole

Masters of Computational Biology, School of Computer Science

Ketaki is a first year Computational Biology graduate student at the School of Computer Science. Throughout her undergraduate studies in Biotechnology, she has worked on a variety of research projects leading to publications and paper presentations in various conferences. Prior to pursuing her degree at Carnegie Mellon University, she worked as a Junior Analyst at Axiom Healthcare Strategies. This role gave her an opportunity to understand the clinical pipelines and novel therapies in Oncology and made her realize the great unmet needs and innovations required to tackle cancer.

She believes that the healthcare industry is in need of continuous interdisciplinary research including computational methods to solve complex problems with creative solutions. Using mathematical models and AI can not only accelerate the research and development but also assist in strategic planning to deliver real business value. Her entrepreneurial interests include using her biology and computational skills to bridge the gap between the medical fraternity and data driven revolution to provide affordable healthcare access and improved quality of life.

Feel free to reach out to her to discuss potential research ideas, collaborations or anything in general.

Ketaki's LinkedIn

Guillermo GuttierrezGuillermo Guttierrez

Master of Science in Technology Ventures and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Institute of Technology

Guillermo is currently a Master of Science in Technology Ventures and Environmental Engineering. He received his undergraduate degree in Petroleum Engineering and Economics at the University of Texas at Austin, Hook'em! Upon graduation, he went on to work for a decade as a drilling engineer at Shell Oil Company holding various roles in multiple assets, ranging from operations engineer in West Texas to safety supervisor in the Gulf of Mexico and competitive intelligence for land assets. In his various roles, he focused on finding creative and out of the box opportunities for drilling operations to be more efficient, focusing on bringing a multidisciplinary lens to all types of projects. 

While at work, Guillermo developed a passion for merging climate and sustainability with innovation. He was a leader in the sustainability resource group at Shell, working on several efforts to make the company more sustainable by helping implement recycling programs in various locations and encouraging intrapreneurship by enabling others to participate in the energy transition. 

Post masters, Guillermo wants to push the US to have a more circular economy where every piece of trash gets reused, repurposed or recycled. He believes the key towards a fully circular economy lies in designing an efficient and effective value chain leveraging technology, data analysis and customer experience. Ultimately, he hopes to encourage change in customer behavior towards single use materials. Outside of school, you can find Guillermo doing yoga, calisthenics, cooking or watching movies. Feel free to reach out to him to chat about sustainability, minorities in STEM or anything startup related. 

Guillermo's LinkedIn

Philipp KurzPhilipp Kurz

Masters of Science, School of Computer Science

Highly curious and a natural tinkerer, Philipp is an engineer at heart. This landed him in the entrepreneurial realm of designing software to create scalable solutions for real problems. To further hone his skills, Philipp is currently earning his Master of Science in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon.

Philipp is originally from the south of Germany and virtually grew up in the workshop of his parents, who run their own small business for manufacturing high-precision metal parts for the German automotive and manufacturing industries. Here is where he first saw opportunity for innovation using software in manufacturing and developed a strong interest in business at a young age.

Prior to joining CMU, Philipp completed a three-year apprenticeship and a bachelor’s degree program in the field of Mechatronics in Germany – a mix of mechanical, electrical and software engineering. Captivated by the spirit of innovation and disruption in the Bay Area, Philipp felt called to Silicon Valley to learn from and contribute to this rapidly growing software landscape. He spent a year and a half in the Bay Area, interning with Bosch in Sunnyvale and studying computer science at Berkeley, before completing his degree back in Germany with a thesis at Porsche’s autonomous driving group.

Outside of work, Philipp loves to be active and to be outdoors, ideally combining both by hiking, trail running or skiing. After graduation, Philipp plans to return to Silicon Valley and innovate at the intersection of cyber-physical systems and large-scale computing, such as autonomous vehicles or the Internet of Things.

Philipp's LinkedIn

Ryan LeeRyan Lee

Masters of Science in Robotic Systems Development, School of Computer Science

Ryan is a Master’s student in the Robotic Systems Development program at the School of Computer Science. His entrepreneurial and engineering interests include field robotics and computer vision.

Prior to CMU, Ryan received his Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering, with a specialization in mechatronics and minor in commerce, from the University of British Columbia (UBC). At UBC, Ryan researched human-robot interaction and computer vision applications in medical imaging, resulting in an International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems publication.

With aspirations to start a robotics company, Ryan honed his skills from internships at the Canadian Department of National Defence and Cellula Robotics, working on autonomous underwater robotic vehicles and marine technologies. During his undergraduate senior year, he launched a tech venture using lean methodologies with a team of six, aimed at solving athletes’ lack of quantitative feedback during training.

When he’s not working on robots, Ryan loves to play sports, instruments and board games, frequently organizing events for his friends and peers. If you are interested in robotics, entrepreneurship or anything else, please reach out to have a fun chat!

Ryan's LinkedIn

Gazal MakkarGazal Makkar

Masters in Business Administration, Tepper School of Business

Gazal is a first year MBA student at Tepper School of Business. Prior to joining Tepper, she completed her undergraduate in Electrical Engineering. After graduating, she started her career at Exl Service as a Consultant for the Utilities clients based in the U.K. where she was leading multiple projects focused on digital transformation and customer experience improvement.

Being an engineer and a professional in the data analytics industry, she has always been a problem solver and was constantly hunting for opportunities where she could leverage innovative approaches to solve clients' problems. One of the projects she led was developing a novel AI based tool to help understand pain points of the customer journeys. This sparked her interest in AI. With the help of Artificial Intelligence driven technology, she aims to solve the world’s problems and improve customer experience.

During her free time Gazal enjoys travelling, cooking and trying out new cuisine and is always up for a game of foosball. She is happy to engage in a conversation about nearly anything over a cup of coffee. Please feel free to reach out!

Gazal's LinkedIn


Thomas ParkThomas Park

Masters in Business Administration, Tepper School of Business

Thomas is an MBA student at the Tepper School of Business. Prior to joining Tepper, Thomas received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. His background is primarily in scaling high-growth technology startups in the San Francisco Bay Area in a variety of industries including E-commerce, Fintech and Consumer Hardware.

His entrepreneurial interests lie primarily in using A.I. to build products that can help organizations improve their human capital management and help employees reach their full potential. Throughout his education and career, he has developed a passion for helping
people improve their lives. He hopes to leverage his leadership experience in technology companies to start his own business that can help organizations solve their most pressing human capital problems.

In his free time, he is an avid volunteer to help immigrants improve their English and succeed in their workplaces and communities. He is an avid reader, tennis player and learning how to cook Korean food. He is always excited to meet new people so please feel free to reach out to him to chat!

Thomas' LinkedIn

Princy SasaparaPrincy Sasapara

Masters of Science in Education Technology and Learning Sciences, Human-Computer Interaction Institute,  School of Computer Science

Princy is a Master's student at the Human Computer Interaction Institute, studying Education Technology and Learning Sciences, with entrepreneurial goals of creating engaging, exciting and meaningful learning experiences utilizing the capabilities of effective design, machine learning and cognitive principles.

Before beginning her journey at CMU to become a better designer and innovator, she had a technical background, studying Information Technology in her undergrad in India, to later pursuing a professional program in Data Science with a focus in Digital Marketing at the University of California, Los Angeles, and being a data consultant for a year after. Owing to her diverse educational and life experiences, she assumes the role of an effective contributor and communicator in cross-functional teams.

Her entrepreneurial mindset stems from her constant involvement and pushing technology adoption in her family's entrepreneurial ventures in commercial (textiles, diamonds) and government (transportation management) domains. Along with this, being a math tutor throughout her high school and college, she realized how technology, with a well-thought design, could help create more effective solutions to mitigate the inequity and increase accessibility in education. She had a chance to design, develop and put into practice a custom LMS for a class of 150 12th grade students, and validate her solutions.

In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing poetry as a means of creative expression, loves hiking and anything outdoors, building projects with young kids and randomly picking and solving quant problems.

Princy's LinkedIn

Hardik SinghHardik Singh

Masters of Science in Robotic Systems Development, School of Computer Science

Hardik believes that entrepreneurship and robotics are two sides of an important equation; entrepreneurship is about identifying problems to solve, and robotics is about creating powerful solutions.
As a first-year student in the MS in Robotic Systems Development Program at CMU’s Robotics Institute, he is developing deep technical knowledge of robotics and systems engineering at one of the best robotics institutions in the world. As he continues to hone his skills in product development, people management, and innovative problem solving, Hardik wants to help enable the next generation of robotics ventures to reach commercial viability.
Hardik completed his BS in Mechanical Engineering from CMU, during which he was involved with research on legged robots at Professor Aaron Johnson’s Robomechanics Lab. After his undergraduate studies, Hardik spent 2 years at HEBI Robotics, where his role as Product Manager landed him at the intersection of customer experience, business development and engineering. At HEBI, Hardik witnessed how much value bootstrapped business practices and positive team culture can add to the output of a small robotics company, and he aspires to bring that same value to new ideas and ventures in robotics.
A former captain of the CMU Bhangra dance team, Hardik has competed and placed at multiple Bhangra competitions all around the US. In his remaining free time, Hardik is a big Liverpool FC fan, enjoys DC and Marvel comics and movies, and likes to keep up with the latest from the Star Wars universe. He’s always interested in meeting new people and comparing thoughts about anything and everything – feel free to reach out via email or Linkedin!

Hardik's LinkedIn

Chrissy XuChrissy Xu

Masters in Business Administration, Tepper School of Business

Chrissy is a first-year MBA student at Tepper Business School. Originally from China, she moved to the US at the age of 16 to attend high school. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with triple majors in Marketing, Accounting and Information System, she started her career at Ernst & Young as a CPA working in the Financial Service Industry. In search of a more innovative environment and exposure to various fields, she decided to later join a Thai Biotech startup where she helped with new product development strategies for the untapped US health supplement market. That is when she discovered her passion for startups, especially those focus on food or food technologies.

While working in the supplement industry, she recognized the need in the market for a better hangover remedy product. With a goal to provide a better and more convenient solution to hangovers, Chrissy co-founded a supplement company with her best friend, aiming to build a brand that not only provides a solution to alleviate side effects from alcohol consumption but also connects with customers on a more personal level. She's currently working through the supply chain piece with her team and hoping to launch the product by summer next year. Chrissy is a perfect example of Swartz Center's inclusive entrepreneurial environment where non-tech ideas and startups are welcomed and supported!

Although she started her company in the supplement field, Chrissy has a deep enthusiasm for technology as she believes that technological advancements can truly transform the world and impact the lives of many people.

Chrissy is an avid traveler. She has lived in three continents and visited more than 20 countries. During her free time, Chrissy enjoys spending time with her cat Pickle, and trying out new bars and restaurants. Feel free to reach out to her if you are interested in her startup idea or are also a nonconventional non-tech entrepreneur who wants to get involved with the Swartz Center!

Chrissy's LinkedIn