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Chris Yahnker


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 82-105
Pasadena, CA 91101





Member of:

347C - Extreme Environment Robotics

Chris Yahnker, P.E.

Group Supervisor


Chris Yahnker moved to CA in 2014 and joined JPL in 2015. Having spent close to 20 years in industry working in the design of power tools, robots, medical equipment, etc; he brings a wide range of engineering background and experiences to the team. He has held various levels of responsibility from a technical staff member to executive management throughout his career. He is a co-inventor on 37+ US Patents, has presented papers and taught seminars at IEEE conferences, and written articles for several trade magazines.


Masters of Mechanical Engineering - Johns Hopkins University
Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering - North Carolina State University

Professional Experience

WET Design – Vice President of Product Development & Engineering, Sun Valley, CA
WET is a water feature design firm responsible for designing some of the worlds most exciting fountains including the Bellagio and Mirage in Las Vegas and the Dubai Fountains. VP of Product Development & Engineering for a 45+ member team in the design and development of various water, fire, robotic, and lighting devices.

EVATRAN GROUP, INC., – Technical Program Manager Morrisville, NC
Start-up company of 17 employees engaged in the development of wireless chargers for electric vehicles. I was the technical lead and program manager for a $20M sub-contract from the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Labs.

IROBOT CORPORATION – Chief Engineer (Maritime Systems), Durham, NC
iRobot is a commercial robotics company that specializes in developing robots for the home and military applications. I was the Chief Engineer for the Maritime Systems Division where we focused on the design, development, and operation of autonomous underwater vehicles. Primary role was Technical Lead and Program Manager for a 35 member cross-functional engineering team responsible for Seaglider.

INSIGHT PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT – Principal Engineer, Raleigh, NC
Insight is a product development consulting firm that works with a variety of industries including medical, consumer, military, and industrial products to bring innovative, new to the world products to market. I was Principal Engineer for the Raleigh office where I specialized in helping companies with developing innovative solutions to complex problems.

PENTAIR WATER – Design Engineer, Sanford, NC
Pentair is a provider of high performance aquatics equipment. I was responsible for the design and development of swimming pool equipment including centrifugal pumps, filters, and automated cleaners.

DeWALT – Project Engineer, Towson, MD
DeWALT is the world leader in consumer power tools with brands such as DeWALT, Emglo, and Porter Cable. As a member of the Technology and Innovation Group, I grew in various engineering positions from Electro-Mechanical Engineer to Project Engineer.

Research Interests

Autonomous underwater and surface vehicles