Speaker Bios

Brett Conner, Ph.D
Project Leader, Sea Systems Research and Development, Alcoa Defense

Dr. Conner is the Sea Segment Leader for Alcoa Defense. Alcoa Defense partners with industry leaders to design systems and materials that increase the speed, reach, agility and survivability of today’s and tomorrows strategic platforms. Dr. Conner leads teams of technical experts in applying collaborative development approaches in support of Navy and shipbuilder efforts to reduce cost and weight in aluminum structures. Prior to joining Alcoa, Dr. Conner was the Principal Scientist for the Praevius Group where he led the Technology Development contractor support team for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protection (MRAP) Joint Program Office in Quantico, Virginia. Dr. Conner served nine years in the U. S. Air Force with assignments at Air Force Research Laboratory, the Space Warfare Center, and the Pentagon. His final duty assignment was as program manager for metallic materials at Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He received his B.S. in Physics from the University of Missouri, his S. M. and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from MIT.

Derek Novak
Vice-President, Engineering, ABS Americas

Mr. Derek Novak is Vice-President of Engineering for ABS Americas since 2010. The Naval Engineering Department is responsible for the engineering review and the maintenance of the requirements for a wide variety of government owned vessels. Naval Engineering projects have ranged from high speed craft, such as the USCG FRC-B, JHSV, and the Littoral Combat Ships to conventional naval combatants, such as the DDG-1000.. We have also worked on projects from non-US governments, such as the Mexican Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel, the Egyptian Navy Fast Missile Craft, and three high speed patrol craft for the Omani Coast Guard.

Since joining ABS in 1994 Mr. Novak has held several engineering positions with a primary responsibility of the engineering review of structures constructed of steel, aluminum, or composites for compliance with the published ABS Rules and Guides. Mr. Novak work has focused on aluminum and composite high speed craft built around the world. From 1999 to 2002, Mr. Novak served as the project manager responsible for the development of the High Speed Naval Craft Guide. While serving in this capacity, Mr. Novak led the development of many of the structural requirements in this Guide.

To date Mr. Novak has prepared several papers and presentations regarding Classification requirements for a wide variety of vessels and components.

Commander Fred Latrash
VP, Business Development, Navy and Air Force Programs, Alcoa Defense

Fred Latrash retired as a Commander from the United States Navy after 20 years of service and joined Alcoa Defense in July of 2007 as Vice President, Business Development for Navy and Air Force Programs. He received his commission from the United States Naval Academy in 1987 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. A Designated Naval Aviator, Surface Warfare Office, and Navy Diver, he accumulated nearly 2400 flight hours and completed multiple deployments to the Western Pacific and South America. During his shore assignments he served as Operational Flight Test Coordinator for helicopter programs, Flag Aide, Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations for Strategic Actions, Defense Fellow for Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and Congressional Liaison for the Defense Appropriations Committees. Mr. Latrash also received a Master of Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology and a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from the College of Naval Command and Staff. Having grown up in South America as the son of a career Foreign Service Officer, he is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.