Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Virtual Event
Future of Automation 2021
September 29, 2021 at 1:00pm ET

1:30p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Tomorrow’s connected factory – Building partnerships to prove and scale new technologies


  • Christy Michalak, Director, Advanced Manufacturing Development Programs, NGen Canada
  • Mihaela Vlasea, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, University of Waterloo & Research Co-Director, Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Laboratory
  • Jonathan Gross, LLB, MBA, Managing Director, Pemeco Consulting
  • Atefeh Zarabadi, CEO and co-founder, Artificial Intelligence Imaging Sensors
  • Jeanine Lassaline-Berglund, President, Automate Canada & Canadian Association of Mold Makers (CAMM)
Networks are crucial to getting connected with Industry 4.0 solutions— and we don't just mean wire and cable. Developing partnerships with industry, academia and consortia can help to iterate and test next-generation technologies and enable more access to resources. Our panel discusses how building relationships is a means to innovation.

Christy Michalak
Christy Michalak is an engineer with 20 years of experience in design, manufacturing, and international business development in Fortune 500 aerospace and automotive companies. In these roles Christy has been fortunate to visit and collaborate with companies all around North America, Europe and Asia. Today she applies that experience at Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, where she has a passion for helping companies to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies.

Mihaela Vlasea
Dr. Vlasea is an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering Department and the research co-director of the Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Laboratory. Her research focuses on innovative design, process optimization and adoption of new materials for powder bed fusion and powder bed binder jetting additive manufacturing processes. The research goals are to bridge the technological gaps necessary to improve part quality, process repeatability and reliability. As a mechatronics engineer at heart, she been involved with the development open architecture binder jetting and laser-based additive manufacturing systems with complex functionality and integrated sensing capabilities. In recognition of her scholarly work, student mentorship, and industry outreach, she was recognised as the SME 20 Most Influential Academics in 2021 and as the SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer in 2020. She is serving as the SME Additive Manufacturing Technical Community Advisor.

Jonathan Gross
Jon is managing director at Pemeco Consulting, a vendor-neutral consulting firm. He leads clients through the entire digital transformation lifecycle, including: technology architecture and planning, technology vendor selection, technology procurement, implementation, and ongoing optimization. More specifically, Jon helps Pemeco’s manufacturing and distribution clients architect and implement technology environments that integrate ERP with the edge, including IoT, analytics, manufacturing execution, quality, supply chain, logistics, and other such systems. Jon is sought after for thought leadership and speaking engagements by industry analysts, trade associations, and trade publications. He has also acted as part-time systems analysis and design MBA professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Atefeh Zarabadi
Atefeh Zarabadi is the CEO and co-founder of Artificial Intelligence Imaging Sensors (AiimSense), a medical device company that develops point of care imaging systems for early diagnosis of stroke. Atefeh earned a doctorate degree in analytical chemistry with specialization in instrumentation and imaging techniques. She did her postdoctoral research at a neuroscience lab at the University of Waterloo. Atefeh believes in capacity building through collaboration and partnership. Therefore, AiimSense benefited from working with other SMEs in the advanced manufacturing space through the NGen program. As the company moves on to the next stages of technology development, Atefeh’s primary focus lies on industry-led collaborations with the healthcare system.

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