Parents, Educators & Engineers

The Cast of DESIGN SQUAD NATION
Season 1

Judy Lee

As a child in Cary, North Carolina, Judy loved taking things apart to see how they work. With the support of her family (her dad is a civil engineer), that love eventually led to a mechanical engineering degree at North Carolina State University. After college, Judy harnessed her engineering skills on a wide range of projects—from designing children's toys to creating medical devices to providing clean water to slums in Kenya to destroying products to ensure their safety. Prior to her work on DESIGN SQUAD NATION, Judy was profiled on WGBH's Engineer Your Life and will appear in an upcoming segment of NOVA's Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers web series. Judy now works at her dream job as an product designer at IDEO, an international design and innovation firm in Palo Alto, CA. When she's not on-air brainstorming and building, Judy can be found in San Francisco remodeling her new home, growing fresh fruits and veggies in her garden, riding a big wheel down the nation's windiest street, or playing with her pug Rosie. Her engineering mantra? "Working collaboratively allows you to share knowledge, expertise, experiences, and perspectives that can only make the design better."

Adam Vollmer

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, DESIGN SQUAD NATION Co-Host Adam Vollmer wanted to be an astronaut, a LEGO engineer (before he knew what an engineer was), or…a dinosaur hunter. Thanks to a BS in mechanical engineering at Stanford and a MS at MIT, Adam has been able to do most of these things and more. "I played with LEGOs all the way up through grad school. I worked with NASA during the filming of DESIGN SQUAD NATION. But I'm still on the lookout for dinosaurs. I hope to find one soon." Adam is currently a mechanical engineer at the international design and innovation firm IDEO in Palo Alto, CA. In previous jobs, he's worked in biotech, designed micro electro-mechanical devices, programmed (and driven) semi-trucks, and built parts for the one of the world's biggest physics experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Outside of work, you're likely to find Adam on his own handmade bicycle, climbing up a mountain (or skiing down one), or exploring new corners of the world. What does Adam think is so cool about being an engineer? "Getting to find creative solutions to challenging, real-world problems every single day."


The Cast of DESIGN SQUAD Season 3

Ana Corina Pelucarte

If you think a whip–smart manufacturing engineering major from Miami, FL should always have her nose in a book, then you don't know Ana! This Venezuelan–born fashionista is just as likely to wear Gucci sunglasses as she is safety glasses! Inspired by her mother to pursue engineering, Ana's ultimate goal is to break down the stereotype of engineers as pocket protector–wearing nerds, while using her engineering know–how to make life easier for people all over the world.

Annelise Mesler

As the oldest of two sisters and the cast's resident Girl Scout, Annelise has always been a leader. Hailing from Massachusetts, this aspiring hydrologist wants to use engineering to improve the lives of those in developing countries. In her spare time, the civil and environmental engineering major at Duke University plays volleyball, builds robots, and even juggles. (With all Annelise has on her plate, juggling has proven to be very helpful!)

Juan Antonio Valdez Guzman

Hailing from McAllen, Texas, this southern boy claims that it was plain luck that brought him to Design Squad. He came to the show hoping for a behind–the–scenes job and ended up a cast member! Juan is double majoring in mechanical engineering and corporate finance, and when he's not studying for exams, he's probably watching old episodes of MacGuyver—a TV show he credits as his inspiration for going into engineering. Let's just say that Juan enjoys people who aren't afraid to think outside of the box... and people who can make a working circuit board using only tap water (how does MacGuyver do it?!?).

Lindsey Nguyen

With her 100–kilowatt smile and a penchant for crafting handy, homemade tools, Lindsey's the girl everyone wants on their team. Ready to show the world that engineers have brains and personality, this Smith College mechanical engineering major aspires to work for Engineers without Borders so she can travel the globe and use engineering to make our world a better place.

Wes Uy

After watching a few episodes of Design Squad, Wes was so impressed with the hands–on challenges that he knew he needed to be on the show. A mechanical engineering major at Boston University, Wes is pursuing his dream to develop robotic military defense systems that will prevent men and women from having to go to war. When he's not looking out for mankind, he's at home practicing one of the many instruments he plays or building his own guitars. Just don't put a hammer in his hands if he hasn't put in his contact lenses!

Zach Tribbett

Hailing from West Chester, PA, Zach is majoring in computer science engineering and biology at MIT with the goal of revolutionizing the world of medicine. Enamored with the idea of escaping reality through science, he credits The Twilight Zone and Star Trek as his inspiration to pursue engineering. Back to reality, his favorite invention: the microwave. Cooking a Pop–Tart® in 3 seconds! Now, that's genius!


The Cast of DESIGN SQUAD Season 2

Deysi

Whether Deysi is at high-school cheerleading practice, designing costumes for the next school play, or scrolling musician Chris Brown's website, one thing is certain: This Mexican born, aspiring FBI investigator will always have clean sneakers (she hates when they are dirty!). A professional salsa dancer, Desyi credits her interest and curiosity in engineering to growing up with two brothers. Her dream would be to create a clothes-washing, laundry-folding, food-preparing robot. After all, what multi-talented math enthusiast dancer has time for household chores?

Dewey

A freshman at George Washington University, Dewey is one ambitious guy. He auditioned for Season 1 of Design Squad and didn't give up when he just missed the cut. (Tune in to Season 2 to see how far he goes!) Thanks to his "do-it-yourself" parents, Dewey grew up with a hammer in one hand and a video camera in the other. In his spare time, he likes to make movies with his friends either for school film festivals or just for fun. A history fan, Dewey would love to design a "truth o' scope" to be used at presidential debates!

Jason

Jason, a multi-lingual Boston University student, learned about Design Squad at the award ceremony for the Northeastern University Model Bridge Design Contest (he was on the winning team!). With a passion for human rights, Jason would one day like to create a "cheap and efficient system to connect electricity, water, and gas to rural areas in third world countries." He believes the greatest invention is the commercial jet liner (he loves airplanes!), which makes it fitting that his all-time heroes are the pioneering Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur.

Kim

At first glance Kim is your typical high-school senior. She never misses Project Runway, dislikes gym class, and can't live without indie music. But here's where Kim stands out from the crowd: She has a Japanese hunting dog, Rusty, a self-professed fascination with fast boats, and an "obscene mental inventory of absolutely useless knowledge." Ever wonder which animal has caused the most human deaths in the world or which president was the first to ride a train? Just ask Kim; she's got you covered. Growing up by the water in a shipbuilding community, Kim thinks the greatest invention of the last 100 years is the classic Boston Whaler.

Leah

Leah has classic taste. Her favorite movie is the original (six-hour!) Pride and Prejudice, and listens to a mix of traditional Irish, South African, French café, and Appalachia music. A reading enthusiast who loves Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, Edith Wharton, Jasper Fforde, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, Leah admits she could go on forever with her favorite book list. Besides her sophisticated interests, this Wellesley College student has big dreams: to be a polyglot, master of all languages. Motivated and encouraged by her sister and parents to design and build projects, Leah looks up to Dave Wallace, Design Squad's technical content director and the "best professor at MIT."

Nick

If biomedical engineering does not work out for Nick, this Worcester Polytechnic Institute student has a bright comedic future. In a dream world, Nick would be a superhero, own a pet bear, and have every day be Saturday morning (when else are the best cartoons on?). Once a high-school football and lacrosse player, Nick now spends countless hours doing engineering homework and would love if a Design Squad challenge could make him an "automatic homework do-er!" A man with many heroes, he credits his supportive family, who bought him his first Lego set, as his inspiration.

Tomas

Born and raised in Albania, Tom, a self-proclaimed actor, musician, artist, athlete, and game enthusiast, has lived in America for more than three years. His dream is to one day be a famous actor (or an engineer), who is "remembered as years pass by." Tom credits his high-school physics teacher for introducing him to his life-changing Design Squad experience. If he could invent anything, it would be a microchip that would detect drunk drivers and, in return, save many lives.

Trejonda

In the yearbook of Trejonda's Boston high school, she is everywhere. This actively involved senior is a member of student council, graduation committee, prom committee, school board, and now has made her way onto television. When Trejonda learned she would be a Design Squad cast member, not only did she surprise her family, but she received warm congratulations from her cat, Precious! Although Precious is a real conversationalist, Trejonda cannot wait for the day when she can have a pet monkey, too! Inspired by all African American engineers, Trejonda dreams of attending Howard University.


The Host

Nate

Nate Ball brings a multitude of talents to Design Squad. He's a mechanical engineer, an entrepreneur, a pole-vaulter, a jazz pianist, and (get this!) a grandmaster beatboxer. As the chief technical officer and co-founder of Atlas Devices, Nate has designed some cool new tools, including the Atlas Powered Rope Ascender, which enables military personnel and rescue workers to reverse-rappel up buildings at high speeds. (It can lift a 250-pound load more than 600 feet into the air at nearly 10 feet per second, all on a single battery charge!). This life-saving invention helped Nate earn the prestigious 2007 $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize.

Originally from Newport, Oregon, where as a kid he built go-karts, scooters, and even a Tesla coil as a kid, Nate got his B.S. in mechanical engineering and master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As an undergrad, he designed everything from robots to portable vaccine refrigerators (for rural delivery). He also served as captain of the track and field team, breaking MIT's indoor and outdoor pole vault records two years in a row. In his spare time, Nate is a product design instructor at his alma mater, hard at work training the latest generation of young engineers, and serves as the MIT track team's assistant coach (aptly named "The Engineers") where the pole vaulters fondly refer to him as "Old Man Ball."


The Cast of DESIGN SQUAD Season 1

Giselle

Giselle's biggest problem is having to choose. Should she be an artist, a wrestler (she's on the wrestling team at school—you go, girl!), an actress, or an engineer? Giselle also loves all things potter: Harry Potter when it comes to books and potter's wheels (she throws a lot of bowls and cups.) Right now, she's working on solving the Rubik's Cube super fast—she's down to 60 seconds!

Joey

Joey usually has something up his sleeve. It could be the compass-waterproof matches-flint-mirror-and-whistle survival tool that he carries everywhere—no lie!—or just a plain old watch. Joey credits "hairy, flea-infested" cavemen (and women) for designing the coolest engineering tool ever, the wheel.

Kim

In a perfect world, Kim would never have to fold clothes. (It's a total waste of time, since you can't wear 'em that way.) So designing a system for organizing UNfolded clothes would be her first engineering project. Next, a machine that sorts Skittles, so you could eat one flavor at a time. (Kim HATES when the flavors get mixed up in her mouth.)

Krishana

Krishana would not do well on a desert island—she'd be too creeped out to eat anything. Krishana would MUCH prefer to: a) bargain shop; b) learn how to fly; and c) cure diseases like cancer. Krishana has a really close family; her motto is: "When Mom says NO!, ask Grandma."

Michael

Michael is all about cars. Someday he hopes to design "sleek, sporty hybrids" that'll help repair the environment. Right now he's overhauling an '81 DeLorean DMC-12, with "Indy," his wiener dog, at his side. It's the "greatest little buddy" he could ever ask for: the dog, that is, not the car.

Natasha

Natasha has very modest ambitions—she wants to go to law school, visit all seven continents and after that, journey into space. Oh, and fly like Superman someday. She snowboards, plays the violin, and never panics under pressure. For her school's mock trial team, Natasha recently won the "Dead Fish Award" (despite the name, this was an honor!).

Noah

Noah's biggest ambition is to be in a rock band—a successful rock band. Right now he's studying the guitar and viola and listening to a lot of jazz, hip hop and funk. (He can do without TV, but he can't live without his iPod!) Noah recently acquired a fish.

Tom

Tom has the most amazing ability in the world: he can read minds. If he could have one other superpower, it'd be the ability to stop time. (So he could take naps without missing anything.) Tom's biggest ambition is to design a machine that takes barren soil and makes it fertile again. As he puts it: "Poverty has been around WAY too long and it's time the world got rid of it."


The Hosts

Nate

Nate Ball brings a multitude of talents to Design Squad. He's a mechanical engineer, an entrepreneur, a pole-vaulter, a jazz pianist, and (get this!) a grandmaster beatboxer. As the chief technical officer and co-founder of Atlas Devices, Nate has designed some cool new tools, including the Atlas Powered Rope Ascender, which enables military personnel and rescue workers to reverse-rappel up buildings at high speeds. (It can lift a 250-pound load more than 600 feet into the air at nearly 10 feet per second, all on a single battery charge!). This life-saving invention helped Nate earn the prestigious 2007 $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize.

Originally from Newport, Oregon, where as a kid he built go-karts, scooters, and even a Tesla coil as a kid, Nate got his B.S. in mechanical engineering and master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As an undergrad, he designed everything from robots to portable vaccine refrigerators (for rural delivery). He also served as captain of the track and field team, breaking MIT's indoor and outdoor pole vault records two years in a row. In his spare time, Nate is a product design instructor at his alma mater, hard at work training the latest generation of young engineers, and serves as the MIT track team's assistant coach (aptly named "The Engineers") where the pole vaulters fondly refer to him as "Old Man Ball."

Deanne

Deanne is a globe-trotting mechanical engineer who's lugged a backpack through Tibet, Russia, Vietnam, and New Zealand and cycled from Seattle to Los Angeles. Her zeal for engineering started in fourth grade when she joined a competition for creative problem solvers. In high school she built some crazy stuff in her backyard, including a hands-free hair washing machine for people with disabilities and a self-sufficient mail sorting and delivery system.

Originally from Palm Bay, Florida, Deanne graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a minor in architecture. In addition to scoring a bunch of academic honors, Deanne also played on the varsity women's soccer team and reached the NCAA Division III finals. After college, Deanne worked as an aerospace engineer and high school math teacher. She was hoping to spend the summer at McMurdo Station in Antarctica (mean temp in August: -18°C!), when instead she became the host of Design Squad.