A Livestream Event:

It's Time to Get Real About Automation

On Demand

Originally Aired: February 23, 2023

A livestreamed symposium about the urgency of automation and the workforce of the future.
Details below!


On February 23, 2023, Rapid Robotics invited some of the most exciting and influential leaders in American manufacturing to our San Francisco headquarters to share their perspectives on robotic automation and workforce issues.

Join Rapid Robotics and representatives from A3, MAPP, ASTM, The Automation Ladies, The Manufacturing Leadership Council at NAM, The New American Manufacturing Renaissance, Gray Solutions, and more for a symposium on how to address the challenges facing the industry, a look into the future of the hybrid human & robotic workforce, and the solutions manufacturers must implement now to ensure they thrive.


The State of the Industry

American manufacturing is in crisis. Join Rapid Robotics' CMO Kim Losey, The Automation Ladies' Nikki Gonzales, Alex Shikany from A3, and Jeff Puma of the Manufacturing Leadership Council at NAM for a frank discussion about what recent research reveals about the significant challenges faced by these industries, why modern automation methods are uniquely suited to solving them, and why solutions MUST be implemented now.


The Workforce of the Future

Is there any merit to the narrative that robotic automation is destroying the American workforce? Are robots taking our jobs? Or does robotic adoption create new opportunities? Experts in the workforce space Andrew Crowe, Troy Nix and Steve Barsanti take a look at the real reasons the industrial workforce is evaporating, who is still participating, and why they stay. Then they will turn to the future, and discuss the potential of a combined human and robot workforce.

The manufacturing workforce

Current Solutions for Immediate Growth

In a discussion moderated by Bee Partners' Kira Noodleman, Aaron Prather from ASTM, Gray Solutions' Greg Powers, and Rapid co-founder Ruddick Lawrence share their insights on the solutions that are already creating the workforce of tomorrow. Learn about how recent advances in machine vision, artificial intelligence, and additive manufacturing make robotic automation faster and more accessible than ever before. How high are the stakes? If manufacturers don't adopt robotics right now, they are risking their future.

Robotic workers


Ruddick Lawrence

CTO & Co-founder Rapid Robotics


Ruddick has spent his entire career working in robotics, hardware and manufacturing. Most recently he was the VP of Engineering at Carbon Robotics, where he led the entire engineering team. Prior to Carbon, Ruddick was in charge of the manufacturing software group for all new robotic end effectors for the da Vinci robot at Intuitive Surgical. The da Vinci robot is the most-used surgical robot in the world, capable of performing extremely precise medical procedures. Ruddick has a Master’s from Stanford in Mechanical Engineering, with a focus on mechatronics.

Steve Barsanti

Director of Customer Operations, Rapid Robotics


Steve has over a decade of experience working in Operations, Manufacturing and Deployment for various startups specializing in hardware and software in the Bay Area. Prior to Rapid, Steve worked at Carbon Robotics where he was responsible for manufacturing and supply chain, as well as customer deployments. At Skycatch, Steve oversaw manufacturing operations and the transition to two different contract manufacturers. Steve's breadth of experience in operations and professional services is one that places the customer first.

Andrew (The MFG) Crowe

Founder of the New American Manufacturing Renaissance

Andrew Crowe is one of the most influential people in manufacturing today. His mission is to ensure that we put our best innovators, creators, and thinkers in spaces where they can thrive and grow.

Nikki Gonzales

Host, Automation Ladies

Nikki Gonzales started her career as a sales engineer for machine vision systems and mechatronics where she spent 10 years in the field implementing and supporting automation solutions in a variety of industries. Today she is building the online marketplace Quotebeam to bring some sanity to the procurement process.

Jordan Kretchmer

CEO & Co-founder Rapid Robotics

Jordan is the Co-founder and CEO of Rapid Robotics. He has over 20 years of experience as a product strategist, marketer, and business leader with expertise in scaling enterprise software companies and a passion for problem-solving.

Kim Losey

CMO, Rapid Robotics


Kim is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for manufacturing, marketing, and leading high-growth businesses. She has led global teams responsible for the growth of some of the world’s most well-known toy and entertainment brands, built an award-winning omnichannel retail business, and was part of the founding team of Modio Inc., which Autodesk acquired in 2014. 

Troy Nix

Executive Director, Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors


Troy is the Executive Director for three manufacturing trade associations that include over 1,000 manufacturing locations throughout the United States. The Manufacturing Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP), the Association of Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM), and the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) work to provide competitive advantages, strategic oversight, and leadership development for the member company executives they serve. Troy and his team provide full association management services to include, but not limited to, the implementation of sales and marketing plans for member growth, communication strategies for membership retention, program development activities to improve each association's return on investment to its members, full financial oversight, and event management for well over 100 functions per year. Troy is a military veteran and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point earning a degree in engineering management.

Kira Noodleman

Partner, Bee Partners


Kira relishes working with new and disruptive technologies across cultures, discovering young companies, and nurturing the careers of passionate Founders. Her background in working internationally with software giants preceded a Haas MBA where she developed a deeper interest in startups and investing.

Aaron Prather

Director, Robotics & Autonomous Systems Program at ASTM International


Aaron Prather is the Director of Robotic and Autonomous System Programs at ASTM International. In his role, Aaron works across numerous industries addressing the roles that standards, workforce development, and research and development play on the successful implementation of robotics and autonomous systems. He regularly works with academics, industry suppliers and end users, as well as government and regulatory agencies in building consensus of pathways to success. Prior to joining ASTM, Aaron led robotics and autonomous systems research at FedEx for nearly 27 years. Mr. Prather holds a degrees from the University of Memphis and Christian Brothers University.

Gregory Powers

Vice President of Cool Stuff, Gray Solutions


Mr. Powers is the Vice President of Cool Stuff at Gray Solutions, based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan He has over 30 years of experience in the manufacturing area with focus on innovation, plant automation, manufacturing solutions, process improvement and ERP Integration. Mr. Powers has a proven record on complex manufacturing system rollout with focus on production, quality, inventory, maintenance modules. He received a BS in Computer Science and Mathematics at
Western Michigan University, and an MS in Engineering Management at Western
Michigan University

Jeff Puma

Content Director, Manufacturing Leadership Council


Jeff Puma is a content director for the Manufacturing Leadership Council, a division of the National Association of Manufacturers. Jeff’s work includes facilitating MLC’s Digital Manufacturing 4.0 group and contributing to the Manufacturing Leadership Journal. His 25-year career includes time directing thought-leadership and stakeholder engagement for manufacturing associations, an advertising agency, public and private schools, and one of the world’s largest industrial manufacturing companies.

Alex Shikany

VP of Membership & Business Intelligence, Association for Advancing Automation (A3)


Alex Shikany is the Vice President of Membership & Business Intelligence at the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). He researches statistics and trends for global automation markets. Alex is a member of A3’s leadership team, leads membership and business intelligence efforts for the association, and is a frequent speaker at industry events around the world.