Join Us at the 25th Anniversary Conference -

Keynotes- 2021

Keynote Speakers Announced for 22nd SPE®AutoTPO Conference

The 22nd AnnualSPE® TPO Automotive Engineered Polyolefins Conference, the world’s leading automotive engineered polyolefins forum, will showcase talks by keynote speakers from Ford Motor Company, Magna, Plante Moran, and the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre (AREC). The theme of this year’s 2021 technical conference and exhibition is “Charging Future Mobility.”

The 2021 technical conference and exhibition returns for its 22nd year online virtually from October 4-6, 2021.

Monday, October 4

The conference keynotes take place each morning and will kick off Monday, October 4 with an opening keynote by Dr. Cynthia Flanigan is the Director of Vehicle Research and Technology within Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.  In this capacity, she leads a global team of researchers to develop products over a broad technical portfolio including additive manufacturing for design, materials and processing methods, advanced interiors, exteriors and safety features, architectural design and chassis systems, novel materials, manufacturing technologies, and analytical tool development.  During her 20 years with the company, Cynthia has led research projects in a variety of polymer-based applications, including tires, composites and polyurethane foams.  Her technical work on developing biomaterials such as soy based polyurethane foam, led to implementation on seating for all Ford vehicles built within North America.  Cynthia has received several key awards such as the R&D100, the SAE International Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award, the Henry Ford Award and several SPE Automotive awards.  In 2020, she received recognition as one of the Automotive News’ Rising Stars in the Automotive Industry and in 2019 was featured in the Ford women’s Power Suit campaign including faux cover on the Better Homes and Gardens. Cynthia also recognition as one of the Automotive News’ Rising Star in the Automotive Industry in 2017.

Dr. Flanigan has been awarded 8 U.S. patents and 2 international patents for bio-product and elastomers discoveries, has published over 35 external publications, and co-authored two book chapters. Within Ford, Cynthia has had an opportunity to serve on the PDLP Advisory Committee, HFTA Committee, Mustang Council and M.I.T. recruiting team. In 2020, she co-sponsored the Women of Ford-R&A chapter and R&A Leadership Development Rotation Pilot.  She recently served as the Chair for the Industrial Advisory Board of CenTire, Tire Research Center located at Virginia Tech. and Board Member for Society of Plastics Engineers, Automotive Division.

Cynthia received Materials Science and Engineering degrees from M.I.T. (B.S.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Northwestern University (Ph.D.) in Evanston, Illinois.

Dr. Flanigan will discuss changes in the automotive industry and its need to respond to societal and workplace changes, with emphasis on the circular economy and new technologies for personal and shared mobility. Many material options are being researched and developed to support electrification, autonomous vehicles and commercial vehicles.  She will present current global trends and interesting R&D efforts that support solutions for the new functional requirements these changes demand.

Ford’s efforts in the development and implementation of sustainable and advanced thermoplastic olefins including nano and bio fillers, materials from recycled feedstocks, bio inspired and advanced functional materials will be featured. “The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, giving us a tremendous opportunity to address the changing needs of our customers both today and for the future,” notes Flanigan.

Monday, October 4

The conference’s second keynote on Monday will feature Mark Barrott of Plante Moran.

Mark will focus on autonomous vehicles, mobility as a service (MaaS), and electrification and how they are disrupting the auto industry. According to Barrott, “While there’s disagreement over how fast and how far the trends will grow, they’re likely to act as an accelerant for each other and move increasingly fast once they reach a tipping point. It is essential for OEMs, suppliers, and other firms in the value chain to track the progress of each of these three trends as they interact and enable one another to get ready for the fourth one — a massive reorganization of the manufacturing value chain. Companies need to understand the position their products and services occupy along the industry’s ultimate commercialization pathway.” During his presentation attendees will learn more about these trends and how they will affect every step in the automotive value chain — including design, assembly operations, supplier manufacturing, retailing, financing, and public and private infrastructure — going forward. The presentation will also address how quickly autonomous vehicles, MaaS, and electrification will converge to reinvent the automotive industry; questions you should be asking to prepare for inevitable, sweeping changes; and action items you’ll need to execute so you don’t get left behind.

Mark works in Plante Moran’s consulting practice helping automotive and mobility industry OEMs and suppliers to build strategies to adapt and respond to changing automotive market dynamics, develop new business models and identify organic and non-organic growth plans.

Mark has 30 years of consulting experience.  He has advised many OEM and supplier senior client teams on a broad range of strategic initiatives including new market entry, strategic planning, global expansion, operating model design, supply chain, mergers & acquisitions and corporate strategy development and implementation.

Prior to joining Plante Moran, Mark was a Partner with Deloitte.  Mark has extensive global experience, starting his career in the UK before moving to the US.  Mark co-authored the “Future of Mobility” whitepaper and is a frequent speaker at industry events.

Tuesday, October 5

As Global Director of Materials Engineering for Magna Exteriors, Dr. Asthana has responsibility for materials used in automotive exterior parts supplied to vehicle manufacturers.

Prior to joining Magna Exteriors, Dr. Asthana was Global Director, Materials Research and Development for Federal Mogul’s Seals and Gaskets business unit. He has worked for automotive Tier 1 and Tier II suppliers for nearly 20 years.

Dr. Asthana is a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers, the Society of Tribology and Lubrication Engineers and the American Chemical Society. He holds a Doctorate in Polymer Science from the University of Akron and a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toledo.

Wednesday, October 6

In their keynote titled, “Sustainability in the Automotive Industry and Life Cycle Management Strategies for TPO.”, Professors Koh and Rhoades will describe the present state of sustainability in the automotive industry relative to other major industrial sectors, specifically addressing the supply chains available for TPO.  Aspects of materials life cycle on environmental sustainability will be described. Dr. Rhoades will describe the state of the art in TPO recycling and the impact that implementing new TPO recycling technologies and circular economy strategies may have on life cycle management strategies, including the potential to repurposing value streams for waste automotive polyolefins.

Professor Lenny Koh is the Founder and Director of the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre (AREC) and the Head of Communication, Partnership and Internationalisation of the Energy Institute at The University of Sheffield. She is an advisor and on the Board of diverse organisations internationally advising leadership and management on resource efficiency and sustainability. Her work contributes to advancing the understanding and resolution of complex supply chains using interdisciplinary approaches crossing supply chain management and information systems domains. Her research is world leading and is recognised for its scientific novelty and has generated significant impacts for societies, governments and industries from manufacturing to services globally. She is also the pioneer of SCEnAT Cloud based suites supported by Microsoft including SCEnAT, SCEnAT+, SCEnATi and SCEnAT 4.0.

Wednesday, October 6

Dr.  Alicyn Rhoades is an Associate Professor in Plastics Engineering Technology at Penn State Behrend and the Director of the Advanced Resource Efficiency Center in the USA (AREC-USA).  Dr.  Rhoades has several industrial and government funded research programs, including an NSF CAREER Award and past funding from General Motors, focused on improving polymer solidification models to enhance polymer flow simulation calculations of shrink and warp.  In addition, she is an advisor to regional initiatives in plastics recycling in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Rhoades also leads the technical efforts of Moxietec, a small company developing new methods thick thermoplastic foams.

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