Our Team

Rida Alvi, Design and Development Engineer

Rida is a mechanical engineer with a strong background in the automotive and racing industry. She earned her mechanical engineering degree at San Diego State University and also has formal training in automotive technology with the relevant ASE certifications. While at SDSU, she joined the Formula SAE team as their Engine Team lead and became President a year later. For her senior design project, Rida and her team designed and manufactured an eddy current dynamometer for the Formula SAE team, which introduced her to engine testing and electromagnetism. After graduating, she joined Achates Power as a Mechanical Design Engineer working on the design and analysis of pistons and large castings for opposed-piston 2 stroke engines. Rida’s life-long passion for automotive and motorsports drew her to MagCanica, where she brings extensive design and analysis experience as a Design and Development Engineer. In her spare time, Rida enjoys honing her skills as an aircraft pilot.

Sean Bishop, Electromechanical Test & Assembly Technician

Sean is a United States Marine Corps veteran where he served as an Air Support Control Officer. Prior to joining the military, he received a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. After his military career, Sean discovered a passion for manufacturing and undertook formal electronics training with the relevant IPC certifications. He spent two years as a contractor assisting the U.S. Navy develop, build, and test various sensor systems for underwater remotely operated vehicles. Since joining the MagCanica team, Sean has played an important role in the testing and calibration of torque sensor systems. His electronics background has also allowed him to contribute towards R&D development and product innovation.

Sami Bitar, President

President and co-founder of MagCanica, Sami holds a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Brown University and a Master's degree in mechatronics from Stanford University. Following his university studies, he gained valuable experience at the Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, MI, USA) leading the development of a series of magnetoelastic torque sensors for Formula 1 racecars and production automotive steering applications. Through his experience developing torque sensors at Ford, Sami developed a strong understanding of the issues involved in developing practical torque sensing devices for industry as well as an in-depth appreciation for what infrastructure and skill base is needed to guide a successful R&D program for this technology.

As President of MagCanica since its founding in early 2000, Sami has successfully managed the inception and growth of MagCanica from a business concept to a credible and financially sound enterprise. He has carried out both technical and business roles in a dedicated effort to continuously improve and further propagate MagCanica's technology platform. In particular, Sami has been able to raise funding, recruit a world-class technical and business team, and secure numerous contracts to fuel the company's growth.

Nader Bitar, Vice President of Business Affairs

As MagCanica's Vice President of Business Affairs, Nader is responsible for all business and legal matters affecting the Company, including managing MagCanica's business development and financial management efforts, and handling various administrative functions such as human resources, investor relations, and benefits. Nader is a seasoned California corporate and intellectual property attorney with significant experience in the high-tech arena. As such, he provides invaluable legal and business development leadership. He holds a Bachelor's degree in International Economics from Georgetown University and a law degree from the University of California at Davis. In addition to his varied educational background, Nader has over fifteen years of financial and legal experience, having worked with a number of financial institutions, law firms, and high technology startup companies.

Brett Caldwell, Electromechanical Test & Assembly Technician

Brett is a United States Navy veteran of 20 years. While in the Navy, he operated and maintained the mechanical systems of nuclear power plants for aircraft carriers. Brett was recognized and decorated for leading and managing teams of technicians maintaining these very complex systems. He became a master of pump repair and utility power plant operations, and an expert in quality assurance and control. After completing a career in the Navy, Brett joined MagCanica to combine his mechanical engineering technician experience with his life-long passion for motorsport. Brett’s extensive knowledge and background in quality assurance and technical writing provide an additional asset to MagCanica beyond his primary roles pertaining to the assembly, testing, and calibration of torque sensor systems.

Michael Callahan, Design and Development Engineer

Michael holds both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from UC San Diego. During his undergraduate career, he joined MagCanica as a mechanical engineering intern and acted as design engineer for multiple motorsport projects. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree, Michael worked as a mechanical engineer at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems where he supported the design of mechanical and propulsion systems for multiple Predator drone programs. After GA, Michael returned to UCSD to pursue his graduate degree and published a thesis paper on experimental robust control design methods for modal disturbance rejection on an aircraft model test structure housed by ATA Engineering. Now a full-time Design and Development Engineer at MagCanica, Michael leverages his strong background in systems design and analysis towards advancing the company’s current and future product offerings.

Alvin Chak, Senior Engineer

Alvin joined the MagCanica team as an engineering intern while completing his B.S. degree (summa cum laude) in Mechanical Engineering at UC San Diego. While at UCSD, he gained skills and experience in research, design, analysis and prototyping through his participation in an entrepreneurial product design organization as well as being a member of a research team focused on developing ultra-high temperature carbon ceramics. Upon graduation, Alvin joined the MagCanica team as a Design and Development Engineer, combining his technical engineering skills with his personal passion for motorsport, which he developed at a young age. At MagCanica, Alvin plays an active role in designing and developing MagCanica's current and upcoming torque sensor system product line, with a primary emphasis on motorsport applications, especially in Formula 1 and Le Mans racing.

Paul Guativa, Electronics & Embedded Software Engineer

Paul graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. While at CWRU, Paul specialized in circuits, solid state devices, and computer hardware. Paul also completed several design projects including a mixed signal positional controller, helical antennae, and a phase-locked loop integrated circuit. Paul was active in many campus organizations including the CWRU chapter of IEEE and the CWRU co-op program. Paul worked his co-op at Keithley Instruments to establish a strong background in analog circuitry and low-level electrical test and measurement. He joined MagCanica as an Electronics & Embedded Software Engineer to fulfill his passion for electronic design while increasing MagCanica’s firmware and hardware capabilities.

Shane Hazlewood, Senior Electromechanical Technician

Shane is an experienced aircraft and aerospace technician with over 15 years of experience in the aviation and aerospace industries. Shane received a scholarship to Davis Technologies earning certificates in manual machining, CNC machining, layout skills, and CAD/CAM. After working for several machine shops, he moved into the aerospace industry, building and testing Auxilliary Power Units for Pratt and Whitney Aeropower, a division of United Technologies. His prior background as a machinist and turbine engine technician provides MagCanica with a unique skillset that Shane applies to assembling, testing, and calibrating MagCanica torque sensor systems to the most exacting quality standards.

Ryan Kari, Chief Technical Officer

As Chief Technical Officer, Ryan is responsible for leading MagCanica’s efforts to innovate its torque sensor product line as well as integrate new technologies into its product pipeline. Having graduated from Stanford University with a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Smart Product Design and Systems Identification, Ryan's rigorous training and multidisciplinary approach help to maintain MagCanica's position as a leading developer of mechatronic systems as well as spearhead the development of products for new markets and applications. Since joining MagCanica in 2002 as a design and development engineer, Ryan has led the development of both MagCanica's in-house signal conditioning and real time signal processing electronics as Director of Electronics, and has contributed to the development of magnetoelastic measurement technologies having co-authored multiple peer-reviewed papers under the guidance of Ivan Garshelis. Ryan's combination of interdisciplinary know-how, wealth of experience with MagCanica’s technology, and his strong product focus helps MagCanica be at the cutting edge.

Brian Katan, Electronics & Embedded Software Engineer

Brian graduated from The Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering at Binghamton University with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering. As part of his undergraduate capstone project, he worked as a software design lead developing control laws for select subsystems in the Hyperloop concept, later participating with his team in the first Hyperloop Design Competition hosted by SpaceX. In graduate school, he honed his programming skills through optimal power system control system designs with smart grid applications, and upon graduation he continued to work on power distribution systems for various builds in New York City. Prior to his educational career, Brian also received professional training as an automotive technician, ascertaining safety and emissions certificates in New York. This core experience provided him with both a comprehensive understanding of as well as the passion for modern automotive technology. Brian brings a diverse and uniquely applicable collection of experience and skill set to his role as a full-time electronics and embedded systems engineer at MagCanica.

James Kidon, Manufacturing Manager

James is a United States Navy veteran with over 15 years of manufacturing experience. Prior to joining MagCanica, he worked in several machine shops and manufacturing facilities, including his own, producing complex and high precision parts for the aerospace, medical, and automotive industries. James serves as MagCanica’s manufacturing technologist, working closely with the design and manufacturing teams to ensure that MagCanica’s cutting edge products are produced to the most stringent of quality standards. Recently he has introduced in-house 3D printing capability to MagCanica’s suite of prototyping methods. His intimate firsthand knowledge of advanced manufacturing processes aids in ensuring a high level of manufacturability for MagCanica’s custom, application specific, and often complex torque sensor housings used across various industries. He also works directly on the assembly, testing, and calibration of the torque sensor systems, giving him a unique and complete view of MagCanica’s torque sensor products from initial design concept to the final shippable product. James is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys camping, fishing, shooting, and off-road driving, rarely passing up an opportunity to take his Jeep out rock crawling.

Dakota McCormack, Electronics & Embedded Systems Engineer

Dakota graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and a minor in Computer Science. While earning his degree, he also worked with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department developing programming modules to teach K-12 students across Wyoming essential programming skills. Outside the university, Dakota also held an internship with an oil refinery, where he created programs to log and present sensory data. For his senior design project, he worked as the software design lead developing code for a drilling system prototype to be used on Mars. Dakota joined MagCanica as a full-time electronics and embedded systems engineer, where he brings a unique background of software experience and passion for coding. Because of this, he is heavily involved in updating MagCanica’s existing firmware, and developing new embedded firmware capabilities for the future.

Colin Nordquist, Design and Development Engineer

Colin graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering. While pursuing his undergraduate degree, he volunteered with Global Brigades to provide aid in building infrastructure and maintaining clean water systems that provided water for hundreds of residents in Honduras. During his senior design project he worked with Rexnord to design a test bench to investigate the onset of cavitation in flow control valves used in hydro-electric dams. Through his undergraduate degree and senior design project, Colin developed an interest in electrical and software engineering and took learning into his own hands. In the years since graduation, he has taken online courses in computer science and software engineering, learned about embedded systems programming and computer architecture, and gained hands on experience in electrical hardware design and prototyping. In his role at MagCanica, Colin supports numerous client programs as well as internal development projects involving mechanical and software engineering.

Jenny Papp, Logistics & Operations Manager

Jenny graduated from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and a minor in International Business. There, Jenny was actively involved on campus in a variety of organizations in leadership roles and volunteered off-campus weekly. After she graduated, Jenny worked in an administrative role at a leading mortgage company prior to joining MagCanica. She was drawn to MagCanica by her interest in motorsport and her passion for working in operations. Jenny performs various administrative duties at MagCanica including marketing, purchasing, accounting, human resources, facility management, travel planning, and handling shipments. Jenny brings to the team her strong organizational skills, her interest in the international aspects of business, and her experience in internal finance and accounting.
Dominic Ryan, Senior Electronics Engineer

Dominic began working at MagCanica as an Electrical Engineering Intern while completing his B.S. degree at UC San Diego. While at UCSD, he was trained in control theory & machine learning, circuit design, and also enrolled in a number of core mechanical engineering classes. As a member of the Energy-Efficient Microsystems research group, Dominic designed a low-noise instrumentation board for measurement via experimental bio-electrodes. For his senior design project, he co-designed a low-cost laser-based vibrometer for sonar receiver transducer applications. Upon graduation, Dominic joined MagCanica as a full-time electronics engineer, where he brings a strong personal passion for motorsport and both the electrical and mechanical aspects of sensor systems engineering. At MagCanica, Dominic’s primary role is to improve signal conditioning systems and expand the company’s electronics and embedded firmware capabilities. As such, he is heavily involved in upgrading MagCanica’s signal conditioning circuit designs, both at the analog and digital level.

Wade S. Fiegel, Electrical Engineer

Wade earned his Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Lowell in 1980. Virtually ever since then, he has worked directly with Ivan Garshelis on magnetoelastic torque sensors and a variety of other transducers and devices. His almost thirty years of work experience and hands-on approach make him a particularly valuable contributor to the team in such activities as experimental testing, sensor and module assembly, and system troubleshooting. Among other things, during his free time Wade is an avid canoe racer and serves as a local Fire Department emergency volunteer.

Dejan Samardzic, Principal Engineer

Dejan joined the MagCanica team after graduating from San Diego State University with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a Minor in Mathematics. While at SDSU, he co-authored a research paper on mixed shear theory for composite structures and was selected as valedictorian for the entire College of Engineering. Prior to his attendance at SDSU, Dejan served for six years as an engineering assistant in the United States Navy where he was exposed to various project management tools, leadership training, and dynamic engineering frameworks, principles which he continues to employ and build upon at MagCanica as a Design & Development Engineer.

Alexander “Sasha” Turovsky, Senior Project Engineer

Currently a Project Engineer, Sasha started working at MagCanica as a Design and Development Engineer after graduating from the Mechanical Engineering program at Northeastern University in Boston. As a student at Northeastern, he participated in the university’s renowned co-op program and gained practical engineering experience working in diverse fields including biomedical and aerospace engineering, as well as optical research and development. For his senior design project, Sasha was part of a student team that designed and built a two-degree-of-freedom rotating test stand that was used for Johnson & Johnson’s contact lens indentation tests. He also authored a paper on the topic of planar laser-induced fluorescence. At MagCanica, Sasha helps to coordinate a wide variety of engineering and production activities in order to best integrate MagCanica’s internal resources. Additionally, he utilizes and builds upon his prior experience by contributing to the design and development of current and future torque sensor system products.