OUR TEAM

Colin Huwyler

Co-founder & CEO

Colin is a veteran of the renewable fuels industry. Prior to becoming CEO of Optimus, he was the founder and CEO of Fossil Free Fuel, a renewable fuel company, and was the Director of Research and Technology at Steel City Biofuels, a biodiesel program of Penn State University. Colin is the co-inventor on a number of Optimus patents, holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and earned a certificate in Entrepreneurial Leadership from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

Colin has consulted and given lectures on biofuels, product development, the low-carbon economy and a variety of other topics for non-profits, government agencies, corporations, and universities throughout the country. When he finds a few minutes of free time, he enjoys building and deconstructing almost anything, playing soccer, riding his motorcycle, and mountain biking.

Roger Byford

COO

As COO, Roger helps direct the growth of Optimus Technologies and many of its operational needs. An alum from Cambridge, University of Pittsburgh, and Harvard, Roger’s careers have provided him with extensive experience as a CEO and CTO in technology-background ventures, from raw start-ups to multinational $100+ MM enterprises. He was introduced to Optimus when he heard Colin give a presentation at TiE Pittsburgh, and was drawn to its unique approach to biodiesel fuel systems. Roger is an engineer by passion and is currently setting up a machine shop to build model steam traction engines at his home in Houston, Texas.

Gavin Crain

Controller

As Controller, Gavin is responsible for keeping track of all the debits & credits and dollars & cents into and out of the company. With over 20 years of experience as an accounting professional and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, he is well suited for the job. All his efforts support the carbon emission reduction goals that Optimus has set and his hopes to leave the world a little better than he found it. When Gavin isn’t working at Optimus, he can be found spending time with his family, playing disc golf, hiking, snowboarding or whitewater kayaking somewhere just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. 

Jon Ewing

Engineering Manager

As Engineering Manager, Jon is in charge of the engineering and operations teams and helps in keeping close communication with our growing customer base. Before joining Optimus, he received his BS in Mechanical Engineering and Material Science from the University of Pittsburgh and spent four years in an Army Special Operations Unit. Jon chose to work at Optimus because he would rather grow the energy needed for fueling the transportation sector above ground and in the soil of the United States than fight for oil dominance in foreign wars. He enjoys the everyday challenges that the job brings and the comradery of Optimus’ small team. When Jon isn’t working, he enjoys cycling, archery, and spending time with his family. 

Kevin Smyth

Senior Mechanical Engineer

As Senior Mechanical Engineer, Kevin plays a key role in product design and support, project management, and regulatory approval. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and wanted to work at Optimus for the opportunity to have hands-on product design and engineering work, in addition to the environmental benefits of using more biodiesel in the transportation sector. Kevin enjoys the team dynamic and how well everyone works together to solve problems and improve the products. When he is off the clock, Kevin divides his free time between riding mountain bikes, hanging out with his wife and dog, and taking on house projects.  

Evan Palmer

Field Service Technician & System Installer

As Field Service Technician and System Installer, Evan is a specialist when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of the Vector System, from its function and design to its construction and installation. He is the primary customer-focused technical field operative. With a work background as a mechanic and his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, his experience and expertise are a great asset to our existing operations. During his free time, he plays music and enjoys outdoors activities like baseball, tennis, shooting, and archery.  

Katie Crandol

Office Manager

As Office Manager, Katie is in charge of organizing and streamlining activities for our engineering team. Katie received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and her MFA from Mary Baldwin University, studying Shakespeare and Early Modern Theatre. She joined the team not just because it is the closest she’ll ever get to working for Stark Industries, but because she appreciates the opportunity to work towards something beneficial to the larger community. On the side, Katie can be seen still flexing those theatre muscles, working with Pittsburgh Classic Players.

Maria Ali

Marketing Manager

As Marketing Manager, Maria oversees all Optimus social media. She also writes press releases and promotional material and creates the brand that customers love. Maria graduated from University of Pittsburgh with a bachelors in Marketing. She was excited to join the company due to her passion about all things sustainability and the chance to work at an organization that has the ability to really make a difference in our community and environment. Outside of work Maria enjoys testing her skills in the kitchen and adding to her travel list of 33 countries seen so far. 

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