Veterans Assembled electronics is an electronics modernization and training company with a commitment to provide military veterans the training, certification, and workforce preparation needed to pursue careers in the electronics industry. Learn about the VAe team.
Founder and CEO
John Shepard has over 30 years’ experience in sales and management in the computer industry. Prior to starting VAe in 2009, Mr. Shepard co-founded two breakthrough technology companies involved with firewalls and biometric identification.
He started his career with IBM and has performed every aspect of business from finance and acquisition to operations and executive management. Mr. Shepard is a Vietnam combat veteran and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island.
Chief Operating Officer
Matt Vargas works as the chief of operations for VAe and works directly with the teams at each location to ensure that the training and employment opportunities available to each veteran are maximized.
Matt has a diverse background in military leadership, consulting, and finance. He is a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan and fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Afghan Farsi. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in Human Geography and a minor in Environmental Engineering.
Marisol Garcia brings an extensive management and administrative background to VAe. She has close to 20 years of experience working in constituent services and communications at both the state and federal level. Marisol was most recently the Executive Director of the Matty Fund, raising awareness for children and families affected by epilepsy. She graduated from Rhode Island College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, with a minor in Business Administration, and has served on multiple boards throughout the state.
Julie Frisone is our Veteran Advocate in New England and has an extraordinary background working with veteran service organizations. Julie has operated in support of veteran initiatives in Southern New England for more than 3 years and possesses an unparalleled wealth of knowledge on veteran service programs available to current and former service members. Julie’s experience is pivotal in implementing our advocacy model and she is well versed in providing both tactical and strategic career solutions to the veterans in our program. She is a graduate of Bryant University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
Caitlin Taylor is partnering with Julie Frisone, as a Veteran Advocate in Rhode Island. With an extensive background of cultivating corporate and community partnerships, Caitlin brings a new approach to enhance the employment aspect of the veteran advocate role. As a veteran enters the employment phase of the program, Caitlin will be assisting in every aspect from resume writing to interview preparation to ensure each graduate secures the most optimal opportunity available.
Lab Engineer, CETsr
Zach Barrett works as the lead Engineer in lab development and improvement for VAe. He works with all of VAe’s instructors and potential student employers to determine and meet the hands on training needs of various electromechanical fields. Zach has a background in many electromechanical fields beginning with his Mechanical engineering degree from the University of Rhode Island. He was also the lead engineer and subject matter expert for the modernization of two MK-48 torpedo electromechanical components. In addition, Zach has designed and manufactured multiple test sets for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. Upon completion of the Naval contract, Zach moved into the lab development field for VAe’s electromechanical curriculum, which is what he focuses primarily on today.
Tony Ruoti retired from the U.S. Navy in 2005 and worked in the Defense Industry before joining Vae. A former Naval Aviator, Tony served as a communications officer onboard the USS Forrestal and on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff where he help develop the information requirements today’s Services implement enabling them to work as a team. He is a Senior, Certified Electronics Technician (CETsr), as well as, a Certified IPC Instructor for J-STD-001, IPC/WHMA-A-620, and IPC-A-610.
Bob Lisi served as a Design Technician at Raytheon Submarine Signal for 13 years, where he assembled experimental circuitry and completed prototype models. Bob also worked as a Production Test Engineer for Independent Energy, an alternative energy company where he initiated and adapted engineering change requests and change orders. In this role, he also provided product development and research and designed new test equipment among other things. After Independent Energy, Bob worked for Honeywell Inc. as an HVAC Systems Engineer for 8 years. Bob also served for four years in the United States Navy where he served as a qualified aircrew. For 16 years Bob has volunteered at the Quonset Air Museum to help in the process of restoration of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War era aircraft.
Rachel works as a Veteran Advocate for the VAe Florida locations and manages each veteran for the entire lifecycle of the program. Whether from initial engagement and entry into the program to interview prep and job placement into the civilian marketplace, she will ensure each veteran is prepared and job ready upon graduation. Rachel has an extensive background in full cycle Technical Recruitment and staffing management as well as Human Resource management.
Director of Manufacturing CurriculumOrlando, FL
Frank has over 40 years’ experience in the military and in the electronics manufacturing service (EMS) industry. Since starting his post-military career with Texas Instruments, Frank has held various management and engineering positions with aerospace, semiconductor material, semiconductor equipment and telecommunications companies. He has been an American Society for Quality (ASQ) certified Quality Engineer and is an expert in developing and implementing ISO-9000 quality systems. He is an ETA Senior Certified Electronics Technician (CETsr) and a Master IPC Trainer (MIT). Frank holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Frank served as an Infantry Officer in United States Army and in the Army Reserves.
Principal InstructorOrlando, FL
Before VAe Gary served as the Industry and Technology Department head and full time at a California comprehensive high school for 20 years. He was also an adjunct instructor at a community college where he taught Electronics Technology and Technical Math. For 20 years Gary served in the United States Navy where he was an Aviation Electronics Technician, a Senior Chief (ATCS, RET), an Air Warfare Specialist (EAWS). Gary is also a US Navy Certified Instructor and Training Device Technician (Flight Simulator Tech). While in service, he was deployed on USS Nimitz and USS Kitty Hawk.
Nate served in the 75th Ranger Regiment from 2006-2010. Nate’s military background laid the groundwork for his support of veterans. In addition to his time in the military, Nate has a strong counseling background as he completed his graduate degrees at the University of Connecticut with an M.A. in Educational Psychology and an M.S. in Sport Management. Nate’s combination of Special Operations service and counseling experience allows him to support and advocate for veterans at VAe.
Lou comes to VAe with over forty years of experience in the field of electronics. Lou entered the field as a telecommunications specialist with the United States Air Force. After leaving the Air Force, Lou worked as a service technician and service manager for Sun Electric Corporation, where he worked with automotive test equipment and automotive computers. Following his time at Sun Electric, Lou transitioned to an instructor position at Stone Academy, teaching courses in electronics and computer programming. Finally, he spent over ten years working with the Connecticut Department of Corrections as an electronic technician, specializing in repairing and upgrading radio communications equipment.
Director of Base Operations Fort Bragg, NC
Alvin Brown works as the Director of Base Operations at the VAe Fort Bragg location. He is a proven leader with over 29 years of United States Army experience in Leadership, Leader Development, Team Building, Logistics, Recruiting, Strategic Planning, Training, Project Management and Wounded, Ill and Injured Soldier’s care and Transition. He served as a Command Sergeant Major his last 8 years in the Army in multiple organizations assisting and preparing the Army’s Wounded, Ill and Injured Soldiers for transition by working with many Veteran Service Organizations. He is a graduate of Columbia Southern University with a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership. He is a proud member of VAe and looks forward to assisting ALL veterans and transitioning service members who are interested and qualify for this program!
Instructor Fort Bragg, NC
Thomas Burns is a retired combat veteran with over 16 years of dedicated service. He served and deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Command. While stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, his focus was maintenance and troubleshooting procedures. Additionally, he focused on reading wiring diagrams of the Launcher-Loader Module (LLM) portion of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). He has worked with field representatives of Lockheed Martin to test and maintain circuitry and electronic components of the HIMARS and MLRS.
Mr. Burns retired from Fort Lee, Virginia in 2016. He moved back to North Carolina where he lives with his wife and four daughters. Mr. Burns is furthering his education towards an electrical engineering degree.
Samuel Watson is a combat-wounded, service-disabled veteran from the Vietnam War where he served two years in the 101st Airborne Division. During 30 years in the Army he was an infantry airborne-Ranger leader, negotiated with the Soviets on arms control, served at the CIA, and as a deputy national security advisor in the White House. In Iraq for over two years he was an advisor on public diplomacy and governance to the Provincial Council and Governor in Diwaniyah Province. He has been an associate professor at a major research university, been a consultant on homeland security issues, public affairs, and a consultant to VAe for over 10 years. He and John Shepard have worked together for over 25 years.