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About Us

Team photo Jaia 202401

Jaia robotics inc.

Vision 

To Democratize Aquatic Data Collection 

Mission 

Providing the ultimate customer experience, with simplicity at the core of everything we do in supplying easy-to-use aquatic drones and data solutions that keep operators out of harm’s way.

 

Hear CEO/Co-Founder, Ian Estaphan Owen tell Jaia's story

meet the team

Ian Estaphan Owen

CEO + Co-Founder

Jason Webster

CTO + Co-Founder

Patrick Zuber

Business Development Director- Defense

Josh Mickles

Customer Success Director

Michael Rock

Product Manager

Board of directors

Ready to Get Started?

Ian Estaphan Owen

Chief Executive Officer + Co-Founder

As a Jaia Robotics co-founder Ian brings a unique mix of business leadership, program management, engineering, operations and capture skills. Ian has worked in the defense, technology, and commercial sectors, with a strong emphasis on Blue Tech. Jaia Robotics was born out of a passion for protecting our environment and finding ways to affordably collect the data that helps us better understand our impact on it.

The work Ian did at Aquabotix provided invaluable insight into the potential of using micro sized autonomous marine vehicles to collect data at a very low cost. This experience – understanding customer needs and market knowledge – underpins the decision to co-found Jaia Robotics and develop the JaiaBot synoptic data collection system.

Ian spent four years at Sonos Inc., partnering with industry behemoths including IKEA, Amazon, and Apple to successfully develop amazing products and launch them into market – always with a laser focus on customer experience. Prior to Sonos, Ian led the Program Management Team at Bluefin Robotics, successfully developing large and medium size autonomous underwater vehicles for customers around the globe. Big business experience was gained at Raytheon where Ian led the Naval Business for the UK operation before transferring to the US, where he worked with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on the NSF funded Ocean Observatory Initiative, as well as doing a rotation as a faculty member in the Raytheon Program Management College providing international business insight.

Ian grew up in a coastal town in southern Wales, UK, where he developed that strong connection with the ocean that led to the first twelve years of his professional life in the UK Royal Navy. Out of work, Ian enjoys surfing, snowboarding, trying to keep fit and losing golf balls. Ian has been on the board of directors, serving as treasurer for Clean Ocean Access, an environmental organization he helped attain 501c3 status for in 2014. Married to Michelle since 2007, his home is now in Southern Rhode Island with two grown up sons living in the US and UK.

Jason Webster

Chief Technology Officer + Co-Founder
Jason Webster made a career change somewhat late in life from retail management into engineering. This required going back to the scholastic grindstone where he breezed to an associate degree in engineering science from Bristol Community College while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and delivering the valedictory address. This led to a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Brown University where he designed the TruffleBot (a circuit board with sensor arrays to correlate temporal time signatures into the detection of vapor plumes) for his capstone project (there was a lot of help – like all good engineering efforts). From 2015 to 2020, Jason worked at Aquabotix – designing, building, and of maintaining their ROVs and ASVs quickly working his way to a leadership role as chief engineer. When not found head-down in the lab immersed in engineering new creations, he could be found collaborating with customers on custom integrations, managing contractors, and overseeing outside contract manufacturing. After the year that will always be known as 2020, he co-founded and helped launch Jaia Robotics with Ian. Together as Jaia Robotics , they are poised to change the aquatic robotic world. Jason is passionate about the user experience and making tools that genuinely make life easier. His long-term goal is an industry recognized payload interface – think USB underwater. Jason currently resides with his better half, Carla, in Wareham, MA which despite all the signage to the contrary, is not Cape Cod.

Patrick Zuber

Business Development Director - Defense

Patrick is a decorated US Marine and senior business leader with 25+ years of experience leading change in large, multipdisciplinary organizations faced with complex operational, logistical, and political challenges. He is an expert in problem solving, planning, cross-functional team building, and process improvement. Patrick leverages a military career where he was decorated for combat valor and consistently outperformed contemporaries, resulting in a meritorious reorder to Lieutenant Colonel (top 1%). He also graduated with academic honors in his undergraduate through Master of Business Administration degrees. 

Patrick entered the environmental space with a new startup, where he managed the operational growth of the company from inception to a $1.2 billion valuation in two years’ time. Seeing Jaia’s value proposition and ability to design, engineer, and build easy-to-use multi-use aquatic drones that are low-cost and scalable made Patrick go from a customer to a teammate. Patrick is excited to be the Director of Business Development-Defense for Jaia.

Being one of the longest serving Marine Officers in a Reconnaissance billet, Patrick supported the development and implementation of countless maritime platforms and sensors. Throughout this process he learned the challenges and opportunities of operating on the water and underwater, while aligning operational force requirements to acquisition processes. Patrick mastered the ability to work with academia, industry, engineers, software developers, data scientists, and others to meet the user’s needs and get technology in the hands of the end-users.

Patrick brings extensive knowledge of the entire Foreign Military Sales process, end-to-end case management, and building partner capacity. He operated as a senior advisor for over a year with the Royal Saudi Naval Forces – Special Forces and Marine Forces in Saudi Arabia for a $200B FMS case portfolio.

Focused on innovation and improving people’s lives, Patrick created a partnership with the University of Southern California, Center for Body Computing, the Department of Defense, Special Operations Command, Apple, and Abbott Laboratories to enhance human performance and develop a holistic health program that digitizes the best practices of professional sports programs with real-time monitoring through wearable sensors. Patrick has an undeniable passion for health, wellbeing, and care of people and our environment.

Patrick grew up in a coastal town in Dartmouth, MA, where he developed a strong connection with the ocean and nature. He spent his summers hiking the Appalachian Mountain trail, snorkeling, and diving off Cape Cod. In his off time, Patrick maximizes the time with his wife and two daughters as they enjoy surfing, skiing, hiking, snorkeling, and traveling to enjoy the outdoors. Patrick is a Board Member of the Force Recon Association and Force Reconnaissance Foundation.

Joshua Mickles

Customer Success Director

Joshua launched his professional career in 2023, transitioning from a distinguished career in the United States Marine Corps due to medical retirement. During his tenure in the Marines, he played a pivotal role in the testing and deployment of innovative unmanned technologies, both aerial and subaquatic. 

His career progressed to leading roles in the corporate sector, most notably as the Director of Field Operations & Sensor Integration, overseeing the successful implementation of unmanned sensor software in field environments. Joshua’s qualifications include a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and certification as a Project Management Professional, demonstrating his commitment to excellence in process improvement and project management. 

Joshua combines his unyielding work ethic, adaptability, and extensive cross-functional business experience to drive the growth and success of his employers. His professional motivation is deeply rooted in a commitment to an organization’s mission, characterized by his high loyalty and strong moral compass. These traits not only define his personal values but also significantly shape his work approach and leadership style, making him an asset in any corporate setting.

Michael Rock

Product Manager

Growing up on the Texas coast, Michael grew to love everything about the ocean which led him to pursue a degree in Ocean Engineering from the University of Rhode Island. Michael’s undergraduate focus on robotics, physics, ocean instrumentation, acoustics, and data modeling as well as three years working with the Navy developing autonomous behaviors for cross-domain platforms employment and five years working within URI’s Robotics Laboratory for Complex Underwater Environments allowed him the background to be selected as JAIA Robotics second employee. He graduated at the top of his class for both his Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Ocean Engineering. To complete his Master’s degree from University of Rhode Island, Michael defended his thesis – The Quantification and Redesign of a Granular Jamming Gripper with Internal Printed Hydraulics. Michael brings to Jaia Robotics a highly analytical approach to solving complex problems, expertise in SolidWorks, and strong project management skills to allow the timely achievement of goals. Michael stays close to the water enjoying fishing, boating, sailing, scuba diving around the world, as well as taking on a challenging tennis match.

Sean Healey

Technical Project Manager

Sean is Jaia Robotics’ first employee and he joins the team as our Technical Project Manager. Sean comes from an extensive background in marine electronics within the Grand Prix yachting industry. While being a sailor himself he was fortunate to transition his passion for the sport to a career working with the top sailing and racing programs in the world. With a career that spans nearly thirty years he has been part of multiple world championship programs, four Volvo Ocean Race syndicates, three America’s Cup syndicates as well as multiple open ocean world speed and distance records. During that time, the demand on electronic, electrical and systems designs, integration and support have reached an all-time high. Sean is regarded as one of the top individuals in the marine systems integration and electrical systems commissioning systems field. The need to meet immovable deadlines and be able to work in an extremely high pressure environment, clearly communicating and working with the multiple teams needed to bring a high performance racing yacht to race ready condition, makes Sean an outstanding all-rounder. Sean brings to Jaia Robotics an extensive background in high-profile, high-pressure work environments in which self direction and crisp decision making will benefit all aspects of the business.

Matthew Ferro

Senior Software Engineer

Matt is a Senior Software Engineer at Jaia Robotics. He’s a versatile full stack developer who quickly and can quickly adapts to new technologies. He effectively manages an agile development team as the Scrum Master to enhance Jaia systems through iterative improvements. Prior to Jaia Robotics, he was a Computer Scientist at The Navy Undersea Warfare Center for seven years. As an experienced software engineer and operator in the unmanned undersea vehicle space, Matt is passionate about the user experience and strives for ease of use when designing a user interface.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a master’s degree in Software Engineering from Brandeis University.

In his spare time, he likes to ski. Skiing is something he has picked up with his wife, Jessica, and now they cannot wait for the winter. He also likes to play ping pong with friends and family. Occasionally, he’ll go for a run to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Matt also finds pleasure in traveling, exploring new restaurants, and cherishing quality time with Jessica and their English Bulldog, Frank.

Deedee Chatham

Marketing, Sales, & Business Operations Director

Deedee leads marketing, sales, and business operations for Jaia, identifying use cases within academic, defense, environmental, and emerging markets. Turning prospects into delighted customers energizes her. Previously, Deedee worked to create The University of Rhode Island’s innovation ecosystem through entrepreneurial and research programs such as URI Launch Lab, URI Research Foundation commercialization, Rhode Island’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Polaris MEP), and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Prior to URI, Deedee spent 20 years focused on marketing strategy, operations, sales, and business development while growing startups in the software, energy, and data analytics industries. She earned her MBA from Northeastern University and biochemistry and psychology degrees from the University of New Hampshire. A true Rhode Island native, Deedee was born in East Providence just as her Dad returned from years at sea to become the business force behind the Northeast Marine Pilots Association.

Growing up sailing on rivers, lakes and Narragansett Bay, she developed a passion for the ocean and the delicate balance required to keep the environment healthy. She’s volunteered as a water quality citizen scientist for 18 years (which has also been a convenient reason to get out in her kayak early mornings to collect water samples), and she’s passionate about this opportunity to bring affordable aquatic data to the world using the JaiaBot platform.

Michael Twomey photo

Michael Twomey

Software Developer

Michael, as a Jaia Software Developer, is focused on developing Jaia Command & Control to bring a clean interface and intuitive user experience to JaiaBot operators. After a summer-long internship, Michael transitioned into a full-time role in 2023. He quickly realized working for a company that needs to test its code on the water is a perfect match for someone who loves being outside. He enjoys the fast-paced environment and rapid product improvement that comes with working for a growing startup. Michael earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Babson College.  

 

Mark Milligan

Production Manager

Bio Coming Soon

Ken Benevides headshot

Ken Benevides

Production and Test Engineer

Bio Coming Soon

photo of Nick Marshall

Nick Marshall

Robotics Intern

Nick is a passionate and driven individual coming from the Southern Rhode Island area. Growing up on the beaches and waters of Rhode Island, he developed a love for the ocean and a keen interest in utilizing new technologies to explore the marine world at a deeper level. Nick is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Rhode Island, where he’s focused his studies on both software and mechanical engineering principles. Eager to apply this knowledge in a real-world environment, he began as a Software Development intern at Jaia Robotics in January, 2024, and has loved every second of it. He enjoys the fast-paced environment and loves working with a development team that also gets to test their changes on the water.

Nick loves the creativity that comes with front-end development, and hopes to hone his skills in this paradigm, while also building his knowledge in the world of back-end development; he’s found that working with the Jaia team and Jaia Command & Control platform caters very nicely to both of these areas. His goal with Jaia is to further develop the end user experience through intuitive, easy-to-use, and reliable software development. 

In his free time, Nick enjoys snowboarding and exploring new environments outdoors. He also played for and was the president of the URI lacrosse team until 2023, and helps out his local community by coaching middle school lacrosse teams each Spring.

photo of Eric Paul Thekkuden

Eric Paul Thekkuden

Software Developer Intern

Eric is an aspiring Computer Science professional currently pursuing his Master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, with an expected graduation in May 2024. Prior to his academic journey in the USA, Eric contributed significantly as a Senior Project Technical Assistant at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IITB).

His passion for web development takes center stage as he dedicates his efforts to developing a full-stack application for his master’s project. He is a quick learner and stays current with the latest technologies, constantly seeking to improve his skills.

Beyond code, Eric enjoys a balanced lifestyle. He is a team player and enjoys friendly competition, whether on the soccer field or at a pool table. He also finds creative expression through writing and video games. This varied experience allows him to approach problems with a fresh perspective and collaborate effectively with diverse teams.

Makayla McPherson

Software Developer Intern

Makayla is a software developer intern focused on optimizing the frontend Jaia user experience. She loves the fast-paced and collaborative environment at Jaia and hopes to explore the hardware and backend components of the Jaiabot. She will be graduating in May 2024 with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and Music from Brown University and has a passion for music production, entrepreneurship and creative technological design. 

photo of Lydia Kresin

Lydia Kresin

Robotics Intern

Lydia is a senior at Tufts University studying Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Engineering Education. Throughout her time at Tufts, Lydia has been a researcher in the Future Educational Technologies Lab at the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, where she has contributed to the development of educational technologies that help make engineering more affordable and accessible to students around the world. She is currently working on a senior thesis exploring how robotics can be used in an action-oriented introduction into sustainability education, focusing on the aquatic environment. Lydia enjoys backpacking, biking, hammocking, and spending time outdoors in any way she can. She is looking forward to immersing herself in the field of underwater robotics at Jaia.