Alumni Leadership Council

The Conrad Alumni Leadership Council is a team of former Conrad Challenge Finalists dedicated to enabling furthering the mission of the Conrad Foundation. The Alumni Leadership Council serves that purpose through three main initiatives:

  1. Alumni Network - Oversee and strengthen the Conrad Alumni Network, a community of high-achieving, like-minded innovators that carry forward the Conrad Spirit beyond Summit. Help alumni support one another on their journeys to create impact through sharing advice about their challenges, products, educations, and careers.

  2. Challenge Participants - Act as an approachable, impartial body for student participants in the Challenge. Provide participants with guidance and tips regarding business skills, product design, and teamwork in order to improve the quality of Challenge submissions.

  3. Volunteer Resource - Serve as a resource that supports Conrad staff in operating the Conrad Challenge, including volunteering at Summit and other events, engaging with Conrad sponsors and other stakeholders, and assisting Conrad participants.

Conrad Alumni are students and young professionals with diverse specialties drawn across a variety of disciplines and industries. The backgrounds of Conrad Alumni members include not only successful entrepreneurs and founders but also product managers, designers, and consultants. The Alumni Council is open to all previous Finalists in the Conrad Challenge who have a passion for “no-box thinking” and are eager to propagate the culture of innovation in the months and years following Summit. 

Alumni can learn more about getting involved with Conrad by emailing alumni@conradchallenge.org


Meet the Alumni Leadership Council (ALC)


Akhil Jariwala (Conrad 2010) - Co-Leader of the ALC

Akhil is an MBA candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Akhil has spent his career in electric vehicles, most recently working at ChargePoint, a global provider of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, where he managed data analytics and network interoperability on the business development team. Prior to ChargePoint, Akhil worked at PlugShare, the UC Davis Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center, and Sungevity. Akhil graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2014 with a degree in Business and Environmental Studies and attended high school at the NC School of Science and Mathematics. Akhil was a national finalist in the Conrad competition in 2010, when his team designed a latticed pod system that generated electricity from wave energy using internally-housed piezoelectric ceramics. For fun, Akhil performs competitively in the Bay Area salsa scene and enjoys indoor rock climbing in his free time.


Alex Cordero (Conrad 2015-2018) - Co-Leader of the ALC

Alex graduated from Christopher Columbus High School in 2018 and is currently enrolled at Florida International University. In 2017, Alex co-founded Northern Leap, a company that sells direct-to-consumer products through a portfolio of brands. Northern Leap strives to adopt a proactive approach to resolve the concerns and meet the expectations of our customers though our commitment to product innovation. Alex is fascinated by brands and marketing, primarily the part of creating innovative products and strategically distributing them throughout our society. Alex has experience in product development in terms of hardware components and how to maximize target audience exposure via ecommerce sales channels.


Ankesh Madan (Conrad 2010)

Ankesh is a venture capitalist at Plug and Play Ventures. He was one of co-founders and former Chief Science Officer at Undercover Colors, a company that is developing innovative nail products that detect date rape drugs. Undercover Colors has raised over $12M from investors including Mark Cuban and others. Ankesh then got his chops in the investing world during his time working with the Duke Angel Network and as an Associate at Cofounders Capital, where he performed diligence that led to investments in 6 early-stage companies. He most recently worked at Propel(x) as part of a team that helps drive angel investment into deep science and technology companies. A native of North Carolina, he currently lives in San Francisco and spends his free time on the tennis courts, playing with new tech, or bookstore-hopping.

Ankesh holds a B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from North Carolina State University and attended Duke University for 2 years of graduate education. A native of North Carolina, he currently lives in San Francisco and spends his free time on the tennis courts, playing with new tech, or bookstore-hopping.


Liam Carter-Hawkins (Conrad 2011)

Liam Carter-Hawkins is a Digital Product designer for Babylon Health and alumni member of the 2011 Conrad Challenge. Prior to this, he also won a scholarship to attend the United Space School in NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston for two weeks. Liam graduated from Loughborough university with a First class degree in Industrial Design in 2015 and has since worked as a designer for companies such as DLH, Cadburys, ABB, General Electric and a variety of startups in London.


Mikayla Diesch (Conrad 2010)

Mikayla earned her undergraduate and master's degree from Cornell University in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Currently she works full time as a consulting hardware engineer, where she develops low level product designs for companies ranging from small scale startups to large corporations. During her time at Cornell she received the coveted Kessler Fellowship, a program for engineers with a keen interest in entrepreneurship. She has a passion for promoting the importance of STEM education, and has had the opportunity to attend the first annual White House Science Fair, and been a keynote speaker for the LEGO innovation in Learning Summit and the Texas Instruments T3 Conference. 

During her time with Conrad she developed a nutrition bar designed to fit the demanding needs of astronauts in space, along with her sister. The product later flew on STS-134 (Space Shuttle Endeavor). The two invented a patentable process to stabilize Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), an Omega 3 long chain fatty acid for use in food products. Mikayla is currently working to introduce Solar Flare to the marketplace.


Shannon Diesch (Conrad 2010)

Shannon graduated from Columbia University, where she was a CP Davis Scholar majoring in Operations Research and minoring in Computer Science and Economics. During her freshman year she lived in a “Entrepreneurship Community” called Res. Inc where she was mentored by fellow students and faculty members who were engaged in the entrepreneurial community at Columbia. She has spent her free-time speaking about the importance of STEM education with students, educators, and influencers alike, at events such as Texas Instruments T3 Conference and LEGO Innovation in Learning Summit and has been invited to the White House for her advocacy work. During her time with Conrad she developed a nutrition bar designed to fit the demanding needs of astronauts in space, along with her sister. The product later flew on STS-134 (Space Shuttle Endeavor). The two invented a patentable process to stabilize Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), an Omega 3 long chain fatty acid for use in food products. Shannon is currently working to introduce Solar Flare to the marketplace.


Antonio Stark (Conrad 2015)

Antonio is an international business consultant and a space policy consultant. He’s currently pursuing a double degree in enterprise operations and AI/Machine Learning at Minerva Schools at KGI. Antonio is a representative to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPOUS) through the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) where he also serves as the Brand Identity Manager and the National Point of Contact for South Korea. He is also the National Coordinator for World Space Week Association, Track Coordinator for the National Space Society, and a Sales Representative at Space Watch Global media firm. Antonio has had hands-on experience with space policy, being a Space Policy Intern for the U.S. State Department and a lobbyist for the U.S. Congress from the Alliance for Space Development. Antonio has a background in UN governance/sustainability and entrepreneurship. He was an International Liaison at the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) Seoul office, relating on his experience as a startup accelerator program manager at 500 Startups, GSV Capital, T-Hub, and Hanyang Social Innovation Center. He was also an investment portfolio researcher at SoftBank Ventures.


Jonathan Kelley (Conrad 2017-2018)

Jonathan Kelley is a sophomore at Olin College of Engineering. Having recently graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Jon has had the opportunity to start a First Robotics team, do physics and engineering research into nuclear fusion, and work with NASA engineers on various prototypes for the International Space Station. Jon loves technology, business, and in the near future, hopes to start up his own company.


Audrey Shine (Conrad 2018)

Audrey is a freshman at Harvard University. Driven by her entrepreneurial spirit and love for science, Audrey will pursue a major in economics and a secondary in Energy & Environment. During her time at Plainview Old-Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, Audrey actively promoted STEM education in her community as the president of Science Honor Society chapter in the district. She is currently is in the process of publishing her research in hydrogen fuel cells from Stony Brook University and hopes to start her own sustainable energy business in the years to come.


Gloria Chang (Conrad 2018)

Gloria is a freshman at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, and she will be pursuing a major in Computer Science and Business Administration and a minor in Philosophy. Throughout her time at Mission San Jose High School, she has served as the Secretary of the Computer Science Club, Vice President of TEDxMSJHS, and News Editor of the school paper. Inspired by how STEM, humanities, and innovation connect people and ideas, she hopes to foster this intersection through collaborative projects that uplift communities worldwide. Like such, her Conrad team continues to work on a tobacco-extracted skincare product that creates clean markets in tobacco-based economies.


Maggie Zhao (Conrad 2018)

Maggie is a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Public Policy. Influenced by her four years of competing on the Public Forum debate national circuit in high school, Maggie is passionate about examining policy solutions regarding societal issues of equity and sustainability. Aside from serving as Co-President of her school’s speech and debate team, she was also a Feature Editor for the Mission San Jose High School newspaper, the Smoke Signal. Her Conrad team, Aqualirio Labs, is working on developing a skincare line, Tabaci, centered around tobacco-derived squalane in the hopes of creating an alternative market for tobacco farmers’ crops and promoting ethical cosmetics.


Alumni Leadership Council Advisers


Madison Revell (Conrad 2012) - ALC Advisor

Driven by her passion for creative problem solving and visual storytelling, Madison Revell earned her B.A. in Graphic Design from Brigham Young University in 2016. She now works as a web designer and search engine optimization specialist for marketing companies across the east and west coasts. Madison competed in the Conrad competition in 2012, winning the aerospace category when her team presented their unique prototype of a temperature-regulating fabric designed for astronaut space suits. She has also won national awards for the Toshiba ExploraVision (2009) and MIT InvenTeams (2011) competitions. In her spare time, Madison runs a bakery out of her kitchen, launches high powered rockets with her husband (who is an engineer), and enjoys scuba diving off the Gulf of Mexico.


Alumni Docu-Series

Check out the videos below for tips and information from the Conrad Alumni Council and some of our subject matter experts.