2023 AUTOMATE CONFERENCE SPEAKER & PANELIST BIOGRAPHIES


Chris Aden

Chris Aden

Sr. Director of AI Solutions
LMI Technologies

As Sr. Director of AI Solutions for the LMI Group, Chris is responsible for driving AI product development, to ensure LMI is a leader in its field. In his role, he oversees the AI solutions team to develop turn-key 3D inspection AI and IoT powered inspection solutions that are used in factory automation systems applications. With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, Chris provides leadership in the development of machine vision and AI solutions to support customers to improve factory’s operational performance with AI technology. 

Chris holds a master of science degree in Management & Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management as well as an M.S.E.E in Electromagnetics and Device Physics from Georgia Institute of Technology. 


Bryan Bird

Bryan Bird

Regional President, US/Canada
Universal Robots

Bryan Bird is Regional President for Universal Robots, responsible for the U.S. and Canada. Based in St. Louis, MO, Bird brings 20+ years of experience in industrial automation to UR, most recently as Vice President of Sales at TerraSource Global and Kollmorgen Corporation. Bird, who has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, has previously held roles at Danaher Motion and GE Fanuc. Bird has been with Universal Robots for three years.


Shae Birkey

Shae Birkey

Industry Account Manager
Caterpillar Inc.

Shae Birkey has more than 17 years of experience in the Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) profession working in consulting, governmental, commercial, industrial, and private industry settings. He has a range of work experience, including frontline field positions and corporate management roles, as an EHS subject matter expert, a corporate auditor, and an EHS Facility Manager. Shae applies knowledge from his experiences to his current role as a Safety Adviser and Industry Account Manager with Caterpillar Safety Services. His passion is educating others on the process of empowering front-line employees, engaging, and educating supervisors in positive accountability practices, and supporting top leaders to be visibly committed to improving safety culture. He holds a Master of Science degree with an emphasis on leadership skill development from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.


Chris Caldwell

Chris Caldwell

Product Manager
Yaskawa Motoman

Chris Caldwell is Product Manager at Yaskawa Motoman, where he is dedicated to product planning and execution through the entire product life cycle. This includes responsibilities for gathering and prioritizing product and customer specifications, as well as defining the product vision and working to ensure customer goals are met. With over 15 years of experience in manufacturing and operations, he has worked in every corner of organizations to provide exceptional products and services, while optimizing costs, maintaining reliability and ensuring quality. Chris holds a BS in business management from Wright State University.


Tim DeGrasse

Tim DeGrasse

Senior Channel Development Manager
Universal Robots

Tim is a Senior Channel Development Manager for Universal Robots, covering Northern California. He spent the first part of his career working on the manufacturing floor with L3 Technologies before transitioning to high tech sales. He moved into the automation market in Silicon Valley with Keyence Corporation and then Universal Robots where he has worked the past four years. Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in Hardware Engineering from University of California – Santa Cruz. With a passion for helping companies adopt innovative technology, Tim has helped deploy hundreds of robots into the electronics industry helping customers stay ahead of the curve in the global manufacturing marketplace. 


Mike DeRosier

Mike DeRosier

Business Development / Safety Manager
Advent Design Corporation

Mike DeRosier is a TÜV certified Functional Safety Engineer for Machinery. His 20+ years of experience include controls engineering to design, build and integrate full machine control systems. His safety experience led him to help corporations to develop corporate safety standards, perform machine safeguarding risk assessments, machine safety training and design, as well as implementation of safety systems for all aspects of machinery and robotic cells (electrical, electronic, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical). Mike is currently the Business Development / Safety Manager for Advent Design Corporation. Advent Design is a custom automation builder that also performs robot integration and machine safety upgrades.


Aaron Donlon

Aaron Donlon

Product Manager
Epson Robots

Aaron Donlon is a product manager at Epson Robots with over 20 years of experience in the factory automation environment with expertise in packaging, packaging machinery, and automation. At a major packaging OEM, he led the development team of their next generation machine. During his tenure at a major CPG he focusied on line management, capital install, startup support, technology development, and focus improvement efforts. Aaron holds a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology.


Dave Evans

Dave Evans

Co-Founder and CEO
Fictiv

Dave Evans wants to live in a world where ideas can become products with speed and ease,  without fear of failure. He wants to put world-class manufacturing and supply chain capabilities in the hands of innovators, without constraints. And, he knows exactly how to do it: Digital Manufacturing.
 


Eric Hershberger

Eric Hershberger

Applications Engineering
Cognex

22 years of applications work in machine vision, robots, and PLC programming.  I actually don't know anything but I make it up better than most!  (I can flesh this out more if chosen but I don't have a bio handy)


Kristian Hulgard

Kristian Hulgard

General Manager, Americas Division
OnRobot

Kristian is the General Manager of the Americas division at OnRobot – the One-Stop Shop for collaborative and light industrial robot applications. He has been part of the collaborative robot market since its emergence and is a thought leader in cobot applications and activation of robots in the collaborative space.


Etienne Lacroix

Etienne Lacroix

CEO & Co-Founder
Vention

Etienne is a business leader and entrepreneur with deep experience building and turning around engineering-intensive businesses. He’s the founder and CEO of Vention. 

Before Vention, he spent five years at McKinsey & Company as an Associate Partner with the Operations and Product Development Practices. In this role, he led enterprise-wide strategic, operational, and turnaround programs at global industrial and high-tech companies. Before joining McKinsey, he held various positions in product management, product development, and supply-chain operations at General Electric as part of the Technical Leadership Program.

Etienne holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the École de Technologie Supérieure.


Mike Lashbrook

Mike Lashbrook

Vice President, Digital Solutions
JR Automation

With a background in automotive, operations leadership, corporate strategy, and automation, Mike has accumulated over 25 years industry experience in Automotive and Industrial Automation industries.  He currently serves as Vice President of Digital Solutions for JR Automation, leading the organization’s suite of software products and services that help customers make the transition to Industry 4.0.   


Dr. Daniel L. Lau

Dr. Daniel L. Lau

Professor
University of Kentucky

Daniel L. Lau (dllau@uky.edu) received his B.Sc. degree (with highest distinction) in electrical engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Delaware, Newark, in 1995 and 1999, respectively. Currently, he is a professor and the director of graduate studies for electrical and computer engineering at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. Among his many published works is an article in Proceedings of the IEEE and his book Modern Digital Halftoning. His work has also been featured in trade magazines such as Vision Systemsp Design, Photonics Spectra, Imaging Insight, Prosilica Camera News, and Inspect Magazine. His research interests include image and signal processing, 3D imaging, and machine vision. He is a Senior Member of IEEE.


Joe Lui

Joe Lui

Managing Director, Industry X, Autonomous Robotic Systems, Global Lead
Accenture

I lead the global robotics practice for Accenture Industry X, and my goal is to establish Industry X as a full turnkey automation solution provider and operator to support my clients in every step throughout their digital transformation and robotization journey. I made my career in spotting emerging technologies, inventing solutions, evaluating their readiness and opportunity for the market, then commercializing them to profitability. I work with organizations to identify opportunities for technology to positively impact their businesses and create roadmaps to get them there successfully—and strategically.

I started my career in product development, system engineering, and solution architecture in the telecom industry. I had the honor to commercialize three generations of cellular technology (2G CDMA/GSM, 3G UMTS/EvDO, 4G LTE.) I spent a few years in M&A leading the tech practice.  I have extensive experience with P&L management and corporate development. Leveraging my wireless background, I’ve been working in advanced automation, smart robotics, digital services, and IIOT space for the past 15 years. 

Bringing sustainable change to companies across industries through technology is my passion. I’ve built new lines of non-traditional business to disrupt legacy business models and drive profitability. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to specialize in a wide variety of technology including AI, machine learning, computer vision, autonomous systems, Internet of Things, wireless commercialization, and cloud/edge computing. This experience enables me to come into companies with an outside-the-box approach to find the most innovative and impactful solutions.

It’s my mission to drive the adoption of smart robotics and all its core technologies in an approachable and sustainable way.


Shanif Merchant

Shanif Merchant

Chief Product Officer
Numurus

Shanif is the Chief Product Officer, Numurus LLC. He has over 15 years product management experience having built complex software and hardware products in the fields of industrial automation, robots, telecommunications and camera market segments. Shanif led immersion of IOT, AI, and machine vision in enterprise workflows, key to the end–to-end disruption of operations across aviation, rail, automotive, heavy equipment, manufacturing and smart city industries, helping clients navigate industrial 4.0 transformation. Shanif brings product management experience from similar roles at Hitachi, GE and GoPro. Shanif holds an honors Bachelor of Science, Computer Science and Mathematics from McMaster University and a Certificate of Data Science from University of California Berkeley.


Sean Murray

Sean Murray

Vice President of Customer Success
Bright Machines

Sean Murray is the Vice President of Customer Success at Bright Machines, a global pioneer in the field of software-defined manufacturing and intelligent automation. He ensures that customers are widely successful using tools developed by Bright Machines. As a senior executive, he has more than 30 years of experience in driving commercial growth and business transformation.  
 
His resumé spans IBM, Philips Electronics, Assembléon and Panasonic, where he most recently served as Business Unit Head of Process Automation. He has a passion for deploying solutions that increase quality, output and profitability. As an advocate for smart manufacturing, Sean is dedicated to ensuring that Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things and digital transformation initiatives are successful and deliver real value for manufacturers, their teams and those they serve. 


David Northup

David Northup

Director of Product Management
OTTO Motors

Dave Northup has more than twenty years of experience in the robotics and automation industry, ranging from autonomous mobile robotics, machine vision, and autonomous vessels.  An early pioneer in the commercialization of AMR technologies for industrial use, Dave was part of the initial team at MobileRobots Inc. which first brought fully autonomous navigation to the mainstream market in the early 2000s. Dave also ran the North American division of Adimec for over seven years, producing mission-critical machine vision cameras for applications ranging from remotely operated submersibles to the space shuttle.  At OTTO Motors, Dave oversees the entire product development lifecycle for OTTO’s suite of AMRs. Dave holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Union College.


Nivedita Ojha

Nivedita Ojha

VP of Product
FORT Robotics

As VP of Product at FORT Robotics, Nivedita Ojha is the driving force behind FORT’s end-to-end platform for machine safety, security, and trusted communications. Over the course of her career, she’s used her customer-focused product strategy to generate massive valuations, IPOs, and revenue for both Fortune 500 companies and venture-backed enterprises in SaaS, Mobility, and IoT. Nivedita has served as VP of Autodesk, where she designed the Platform Strategy for transforming the business, and as Senior Director at Citrix, where she expanded the company’s mobile business through innovation and partnerships. As CEO of w-Planit, she evangelized the Location Based Services across 15 marque brands and exited the business. She has been awarded 2 patents in the IoT and networking space.

Nivedita has a BS in Chemical Engineering from University of Bombay, an MS from Mississippi State University, and an MBA from University of Michigan. She is passionate about traveling, long distance cycling, and swimming. She lives in San Francisco with her daughter.


Cory Raizor

Cory Raizor

Business Development Manager, Automated Machine Tending
SCHUNK

With nearly 10 years of experience in automation sales, Cory Raizor is a rising expert in the robotics and End-of-Arm-Tooling industries. Following responsibilities as a territory manager and then a focused account-based sales manager, Cory now serves as a Business Development Manager leading SCHUNK USA’s Collaborative Accessories Program, a national distribution channel focused on collaborative robot solution providers. He continuously strives to empower and assist manufacturers as they enter and advance through their unique journey into robotic automation.
Cory holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University


Bob Rochelle

Bob Rochelle

Account Manager
G├╝del

Bob Rochelle earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Engineering from Virginia Tech and his Industrial Automation career spans over 30 years where he has held a variety of engineering, sales and management positions.   He joined the Güdel team in 2016 as the Southeast Region’s Account Manager.     Bob is a veteran speaker for industry groups, teaches engineering at the University and Community College level and is a freelance author for technical journals.   He is a regular contributor to educational committees for Industrial Automation Groups, has served on the RIA Board of Directors and is a past Standards Committee Chair for the 3A Sanitary Standards Institute.    He enjoys sharing his experiences through speaking engagements like this one.


Stuart Singer

Stuart Singer

CEO
Schneider Optics, Inc.

Stuart Singer is the Chief Executive Officer of Schneider Optics, Inc.

Stuart has over 40 years of optical engineering, optical manufacturing, lens design, and management experience, as well as his technical sales experience in the optical applications for Machine and Robotic Vision, Military Reconnaissance, Space Born Optical Systems, Industrial/Commercial, and Motion Picture/Television Industries.

Stuart had formerly been the Senior Vice President & CTO of Schneider Optics, the U.S. subsidiary of Schneider-Kreuznach of Germany for 7 years, and Technical Director for 17 years. Prior to Schneider, Stuart was the Optical Engineering Manager at Loral Fairchild Systems, formerly known as Fairchild Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems for 14 years. For the last two years, Stuart served as the Senior Technical Director of Ruda Cardinal, Inc., a leader in design and the building of the most complex and intricate optical designs located in Tucson, Az.

Stuart is a Senior Member of the Optical Engineering Society - SPIE. Over the years, Stuart has published numerous technical papers for Schneider and various other publications and has been a frequent lecturer in the field of optics. Stuart was also one of the recipients of a National Emmy Award in 2012 for my contributions in the development of an IRND Filter for Digital Motion Picture Cameras.


Liz Stortstrom

Liz Stortstrom

Application Engineer
HP 3D Printing

Liz Stortstrom is a 3D Printing Application Engineer with expertise in using HP's Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) Technology for industrial applications. She has a background in Mechanical Design and joined HP to support the development of the MJF technology. She now utilizes that experience to help people take their businesses to the next level with additive manufacturing. Liz received her BS & MS in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and currently resides in Portland, OR.


Marin Tchakarov

Marin Tchakarov

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Kindred, Part of Ocado Group

In his role as CEO, Marin works with the Kindred team and board of directors to deliver on the promise of industry-progressing artificial intelligence, machine learning, and next-generation robotics systems for supply chain and order fulfillment organizations. A seasoned technology and finance executive of over 25 years, Marin has made valuable contributions to start-up, private and public companies such as KPMG, Oracle, Smart Modular, Second Life, Jawbone and Pebble. 


Per Treven

Per Treven

Director Business Development, Manufacturing
Ericsson

Per Treven brings over 30 years of experience within telecom. Per's domains of expertise are in charging, O&M, managed services, IoT and private networks solutions. For the last couple of years, he has worked with business development and sales to enable private wireless solutions for mining companies. Per's current focus is on assisting enterprises on utilizing the capabilities of 5G for manufacturing.


Jack Wagler

Jack Wagler

CFO
Formic

Jack Wagler is responsible for the financial operations and treasury aspects of Formic—across funding, legal, credit, accounting, tax, compliance and servicing.  Jack lives in Charlotte, NC and attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison (with two years of study abroad in Germany and the UK), receiving a JD in law, a MSc in International Business and a BA, with a double major in Political Science and German. Throughout his 29-year career in specialty finance, Jack has always focused on the innovative and enigmatic—from startup companies, to new market sectors and off-the- run asset types.  Jack’s experience ranges from, (1) being the founding CEO of a spin- off financial services technology company, to (2) leading the commercial equipment, operating asset, transportation leasing, and structured tax teams in Wachovia Securities’ Structured Asset Finance group, to (3) founding and leading the Specialty Finance Advisory practice at Ernst & Young, which provided strategy, implementation and funding advisory services to independent and captive specialty finance companies.


Houssaine Waled

Houssaine Waled

Senior Staff Systems Engineer
KUKA Robotics Corporation

Houssaine Waled is a senior engineer at KUKA Robotics Corporation. He has more than 25 years of experience in the fields of robotics, automation, and motion control. He worked on many highly advanced robotics applications in the aerospace, manufacturing, machining, medical, non-destructive testing, and mobile robotics fields, among others.


Jason Walker

Jason Walker

VP of Market Development
Locus Robotics

Jason Walker is the Vice President of Market Development at Locus Robotics. Before joining the Locus Robotics organization, Walker Co-founded Waypoint Robotics, which designs and manufactures easy to use, industrial-strength, omnidirectional autonomous mobile robots. Prior to founding Waypoint, Mr. Walker Co-founded CyPhy Works where he served as Lead Roboticist and Director of Operations while working on contacts for DARPA, NIST, and the National Science Foundation. Walker helped grow CyPhy Works into a leading tethered drone supplier in North America. Prior to CyPhy Works, he was the quality and testing manager for the Roomba vacuuming robot at iRobot. Walker received a BSEE with a concentration in Robotics and Control Systems from Kansas State University.


James Witherspoon

James Witherspoon

Product Manager
Zebra Technologies

Jim is currently a Product Manager with the Machine Vision and Fixed Industrial Scanning group where he is responsible for the Zebra Aurora software and help getting the best solutions to the market. Jim has more than 20 years of experience within the Machine Vision and Fixed Industrial Scanning Industry and has worked in application engineering, sales, and management.  Jim previously worked with many of the world’s top companies to install thousands of machine vision and fixed industrial scanning systems and solutions.