2018 Tech10 Awards

Rhode Island Monthly and Tech Collective recognize local individuals across ten categories, from tech educators to entrepreneurs.
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Celinda Kofron and Anubhav Tripathi

Tech Educators

Celinda Kofron and Anubhav Tripathi
Associate Directors at the Center for Biomedical Engineering, Lecturer of Engineering, Brown University
The only joint academic program of the School of Engineering and the Division of Biology and Medicine; research improves human health through cross-disciplinary studies and educational activities that integrate the engineering, physical sciences, life sciences and clinical practice.

What made you want to get into the tech field?
Celinda Kofron: My initial interest in technology stemmed from a curiosity in how things worked. The impacts of medical technology in particular hit close to home as many family members, including my dad who is a type 1 diabetic, had their lives improved and enhanced by medical technology. I am still very curious about how things work, but I’ve also developed a desire to think about how we can apply technology to affect lives.

What is your favorite part about your job?
CK: I get to work with vastly talented and passionate individuals, including the students in biomedical engineering at Brown University, my teaching and research colleagues and the clinicians that I connect with. I often think of my role in the biomedical innovation and design course that I teach as more of a coach than a traditional teacher. There is material and training that we provide, but it’s really about recruiting the right teammates, playing to the strengths of the team and working toward a common goal. We call our course an incubator for innovative ideas in biomedical design. The best part of my job in teaching our biomedical engineering capstone design class is that I get to see what happens when all of these forces work together.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into your field?
CK: Think broadly. Learn about all of the stakeholders in the medical field: the patients, the providers (doctors, nurses, technicians and more), the regulatory bodies, the payers, the venture capitalists, the intellectual property, the industry leaders and beyond. In health care, making an impact requires an awareness beyond the technology to actually implement the innovation, but at the same time focusing too much on all of the details can be paralyzing. Know the basics, but also know when to call in the experts.

What is one of your best teaching moments?
CK: I have only been teaching for a few years, but I had a great experience this summer working with a team of four biomedical engineering students at the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Coulter College. The team was presented with the problem of improving treatment for chronic hypertension in a low-resource setting. As biomedical engineers, there is some inclination that we should be focusing on disease monitoring, prevention or treatment, but this team really empathized with the patient population and focused on communication facilitation as a key to successful care. We had a conversation early on in the competition about what their goals were for the weekend. Did they want to put their effort into a novel cure or treatment that they didn’t really believe in with the goal of winning a competition or did they want to pursue something they really believed would help these patients? They pursued their desire to make a difference and, in the end, they were able to achieve both goals.


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John C. Alfred and Todd S. Knapp. Photography by James Jones.

Tech Leadership

John C. Alfred
Detective Captain, Rhode Island State Police, Joint Cyber Task Force
Provides analysis and support prior to and during catastrophic events affecting critical cyber infrastructure in Rhode Island and ensures continuity and restoration of cyber operations. Rhode Island Fusion Center, a point for the receipt, analysis, gathering and sharing of threat-related information between federal, state, local, tribal, territorial and private sector partners.

What made you want to get into the tech field?
About twelve years ago I was assigned to the major crimes unit of the State Police detective division, where I saw a steady increase in the use of technology to commit crimes as well as solve crimes. I was the type of guy that had an interest in tech and given that it appeared to be a growing field in police work, I was interested in getting in on the ground floor.

What is a common misconception people have about your line of work?
Many people think that computer crimes are only about technical investigations, but that is only one aspect to consider. The technical dimension is also only one side of cybercrime, too. Investigators are expected to investigate the crime using “old-fashioned” police work coupled with the technical aspect of the investigation.

Todd S. Knapp
CEO, Envision Technology Advisors
A technology consulting and integration company that offers engineering services, managed services, cloud platform, programming, website and mobile app development.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into your field?
The best technology professionals I know are excellent listeners and they are always willing to adapt. Our industry is about innovation and change. In order to move with the industry, you have to welcome the possibility that the things you believe to be most true may no longer be appropriate. In my career, I’ve loudly evangelized technologies and solutions just to find that eighteen months later I’m recommending the exact opposite. “This is how we’ve always done it,” is the battle cry of failed initiatives. Being open to new ideas, adopting change as a lifelong partner and seeking out the best idea regardless of where it came from is the hallmark of a great technology professional.


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Barbara Reid and Jacques N. LaFlamme. Photography by James Jones.

Company Innovation

Barbara Reid
Agile Coach, FM Global
A property insurance company with an engineering-based approach.

What is your favorite part about your job?
Working with people and getting them to try new things. I really enjoy watching the teams I work with make even the smallest of changes to help them continuously improve individually and as a team.

What future tech innovation are you most looking forward to?
From my current perspective, I look forward to seeing teams go beyond their comfort zone and the alleged constraints to create new, innovative products for our clients using agile practices and an agile mindset.

Jacques N. LaFlamme
Chief Information Officer, New England Institute of Technology
A technical university with industry-specific degree programs.

What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite parts of my job are the people and the challenges the job presents. The most rewarding aspect of job has always been solving people’s problems or making someone’s ability to do their job easier or better, using technology. Here at the New England Institute of Technology, it’s crystal-clear. We educate students so they can get jobs and advance their careers. That paraphrased mission is why I get up in the morning. As CIO of the university, my staff and I make sure that everything and anything we do benefits teaching and learning. We do anything we can to improve and enhance the student’s experience. It really is a noble cause.

What future tech innovation are you most looking forward to?
I am anxious to see things evolve in my own industry. I am very much looking forward to commercially available data transfer rates in excess of one terabit per second; the next generation of smartphone technology; five-G, the integration of four-G and five-G and Wi-Fi into a single and ubiquitous network transport.