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keynote speakers

Prof. Dr. A. Rüstem Aslan,

Istanbul Technical University (ITU), Department of Astronautical Engineering Contact:


Prof. Aslan graduated as an Aeronautical Engineer from the ITU Department of Aeronautical Engineering. He received his MSc degree from the same department in 1985. Then, he completed the Diploma Course of the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (Belgium) with a scholarship in 1986. He received his Ph.D. from the same institute (aeronautics and aerospace department) together with Universite Libre de Bruxelles in 1991. He worked as an adjunct professor in Old Dominion University, USA, from mid 2001 to mid 2002. Prof. Dr. A. Rüstem Aslan served as the head of the Department of Astronautical Engineering at Istanbul Technical University (ITU) from 2004 to end of 2013. He is currently the Manager of Space Systems Design and Test Lab. where many nanosatellites developed since 2007, and Chair of Rotorcraft Technologies Graduate Program, in addition to other various duties.

Dr. Aslan’s research interests include the design, analysis and development of nanosatellites (four in orbit), manned and unmanned rotorcraft systems, computational fluid dynamics and aerodynamics, and defense and education technologies. Dr. Aslan has authored/ co-authored over hundred and seventy technical publications (full-length). Dr. Aslan in addition to academic teaching and advising duties in the field of aerospace engineering, reviews papers for several international journals and acts as consultant and inspector for large scale national and industrial projects. His about sixty research projects have been sponsored by various civil and military funding agencies and industries. He has been leading many satellite projects with successful launches into orbit, including the first satellite made in Turkey. Prof. Aslan is teaching Spacecraft System Design at ITU and Air Force Academy. He is a member of IAF, founding member of the Turkish Amateur Satellite Society, AMSAT-TR (TAMSAT) and Turkish Universities Space Technologies Society (UTEB/UNISEC-TR), and UNISEC-GLOBAL. He is also the National Panel Member in NATO STO-AVT and co-chair of the Small Satellites Research Group. Dr. Aslan, also, regularly delivers seminars and speeches on space technologies in different institutions such as elementary and high schools, clubs, universities, retirement houses, meetings, TV programs, etc. to increase ‘space awareness’ of the general public.

Mr. Wael Elrifai

Director of Enterprise Solutions / Pentaho


Mr. Wael Elrifai is an avid technologist and management strategist, bridging the divide between IT and business as Pentaho’s EMEA Director of Enterprise Solutions. He’s been working in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data for the past decade. Mr. Wael has served clients across North America, EMEA, and APAC and has presented at conferences worldwide as well as having been quoted in the Financial Times and Forbes, among others.

With graduate degrees in both electrical engineering and economics, Mr. Wael is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Special Interest Group for Artificial Intelligence, the Royal Economic Society, and Chatham House. Mr. Wael also serves on the boards of two charitable organizations and enjoys tinkering with “bleeding edge” technology, private aviation, and adventure travel.

Mr. Ali Saleh

Senior Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, MENAT/SSA GE Digital


Mr. Ali Saleh is Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of GE Digital for the Middle East, Africa & Turkey. He is a GE veteran with over two decades of experience in digital industrial transformation, information technology, engineering and turnkey projects in the US, France and Middle East.

He leads GE’s strategic growth initiatives, supporting partners in the region to look at digital industrial transformation, and focuses on further strengthening localized innovation in the digital space through industry and academia linkages. In addition to leading all GE Digital commercial activities including Sales, Commercial Operations, Marketing, and Professional Services, Ali also works with the broader GE Digital organization, including Channels & Alliances, Support, and Foundries teams, and to accelerate regional business development opportunities.

Mr. Saleh has a strong understanding of the region, especially in the IT, engineering, and healthcare sectors, having served over 16 years in the region. Previously, he was President & CEO of GE Healthcare, Saudi Arabia.

Prior to this, Mr. Saleh had a long history with GE Healthcare, serving as General Manager for Market Development for the Eastern & African Growth Markets region; as Region Service Manager for the Middle East; Chief Marketing Officer for Services in Emerging Markets; and General Manager for Healthcare Solutions & IT. He served as Executive Director and Board Member of three Saudi joint ventures.

Mr. Saleh also worked as General Manager for GE Global eXchange Services and as Country Sales Manager for GE Information Systems in the Middle East. He started his career as an Engineering Integration Specialist for GE Information Services in Maryland, USA.

Mr. Saleh holds a Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Maryland, and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. He also holds an Associate’s Degree in Engineering Science from Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, USA.