The Tech Starters

The MENTOR Project brings top leaders in the field of science and technology into the classrooms for weekly demonstrations, instruction, and mentoring. Kids will learn the answers to such questions as: What is a tesla coil?  and, What kinds of chemicals make explosions?  The mentors make learning computer coding, cosmology, genetics, and rocket science (and many, many more topics) engaging and inspiring for future scientists, engineers, and tech nerds of all levels. Let's find our next Nobel Laureate. Let's make science and technology part of every child's educational experience.  And who better to do this than the best, brightest, most accomplished mentors in science and technology! 

Deborah Heiser, PhD


Deborah Heiser is an Applied Developmental Psychologist and has conducted award-winning research, and has collaborated with notable institutions such as Columbia University, Pfizer, NIA/NIH, and New York State Department of Health. Deborah is currently an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Old Westbury in New York, coaches individuals and families, consults with corporations, and is a frequent speaker and media expert in print, the web, and radio. She is a relentless believer that mentoring others changes lives of the mentors and the world.  

     Claribel Cortes


Claribel Cortes is a driven executive leader with more than 15 years of experience in Broadcast and Digital Media. Experienced with a wide range of publications and channels, Claribel has achieved exceptional success in forging relationships with key leaders in the broadcast industry to expand digital media operations around the globe. In addition to her Media background, she has a passion for mentorship and her community which led her to run for office and now serves as a School Board member at her local school district. In her spare time, she enjoys long distance running, refining her leadership skills, and coaching with the organization Girls on the Run.

Bill "Ches" Cheswick

       Nerd Maker

Bill Cheswick logged into his first computer in 1968. He has been programming and working for (and against) computer security ever since. He joined ARPAnet and then Bell Labs in the 1980s. He co-created and patented the first DNS proxy and co-authored Firewalls and Internet Security: Repelling the Wily Hacker.  Along with Hal Burch, he worked on corporate and Internet mapping that still appear in publications and talks today. He has earned more than a dozen patents in visualization and authentication. Ches "retired" in 2012: it is not likely to last. He is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania where he hangs out and occasionally teaches classes. He is now an enthusiastic, dedicated, and inspiring mentor!

Irene Yachbes, MS

Chief Product Officer

Irene Yachbes has been a tech professional in the robotics and digital industries for 18 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia and her Masters Degree in Technical Management from Johns Hopkins University.  As a Spacecraft Engineer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Maryland, she performed integration, testing, and launch site support for four spacecraft that studied the Earth’s atmosphere, planets and comets. On the Messenger mission to Mercury, she was the Lead Engineer for all electrical wiring of the spacecraft. Following this, Irene became the Director of Business Development at Honeybee Robotics. Working with world-renowned scientists and engineers, she brought in tens of millions of dollars of research and product development funding for robotics projects. With the support of friends and mentors, Irene decided to create the first grassroots Maker space in her home on Long Island for her son Eric and his friends.

Robert "Bob" Cousins


Bob Cousins has worked with startups in both energy and computing for more than 35 years. Bob has served as CTO and/or Engineering VP of multiple technology companies from New York to California. He is an inventor and technologist, holding over twenty patents in diverse areas including filesystem design, data storage and security, high frequency RADAR, imaging and medical instrumentation, and virtual credit cards. He has also written two novels, Pipov and Miller's Trials.

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