Cheryl Carrier

Executive Director, Ford Next Generation Learning

Cheryl Carrier is executive director of Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL), the signature education program of Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. In this role, she leads the team responsible for developing and managing the innovative Ford NGL program, which is designed to engage educators, employers, and community leaders in the common goal of preparing today’s high school students for the careers of tomorrow. Currently, there are more than 18 communities across the country using the Ford NGL framework.

After joining Ford in 1978, Cheryl has held positions in Engineering, Finance, Business Strategy and Investor Relations. Cheryl assisted Ford Executive Chairman William Clay Ford, Jr., for many years, including a special assignment with the Detroit Lions where she was responsible for developing human resource policy. 
She retired from Ford on December 31, 2013 and has been retained by Ford as a consultant to continue to manage and grow Ford NGL.

Cheryl serves on the boards of the National Career Technical Education Foundation, and the National Career Academy Coalition; and is a member of the Ford STEM Advisory Council.



Dr. Sridhar Kota

Professor, University of Michigan
Director, Institute for Manufacturing Leadership
Director, MForesight

Dr. Sridhar Kota is the Herrick Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan. Between 2009-2012, Dr. Kota served as the Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In this role, he developed policy recommendations and implementation strategies to enhance U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, and to foster innovation-based manufacturing of emerging technologies. He played an instrumental role in launching several initiatives including National Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, National Robotics Initiative and National Digital Engineering and Manufacturing. Dr. Kota has authored over 200 technical papers and is named as an inventor on over 25 patents. He has received the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Machine Design Award, Leonardo da Vinci Award, and the Outstanding Educator Award.

In October 2015, Dr. Kota was named as director of MForesight, an organization that serves as a “think-and-do” tank to forecast next generation technologies that lead to future U.S-based manufacturing. The organization focuses on providing technology roadmaps and reports to the broad manufacturing community regarding emerging technologies and opportunities for public-private investments in advanced manufacturing. MForesight also promotes technology innovation to bridge the gap between science and U.S.-based manufacturing. 


Larry Drake
President and CEO
KUKA Systems Group - Sterling Heights

Larry Drake was named Chief Executive Officer for KUKA Systems Group in November of 2009. His responsibilities include management of KUKA Systems Group globally and operational responsibility for KUKA Systems North and South America. Prior to joining KUKA, he was Partner and President of Taurus Systems Inc., a KUKA company that supplied Manufacturing Engineering to the automotive market. In his spare time, Larry is an active member of the community, including being a Leadership Board member of the Detroit Area Boy Scouts of America, member of the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, and Chairman of the KUKA Cares Foundation. He is a Michigan-native, born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and attended school at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Patty Lopez
Rose-A-Lee Technologies - Sterling Heights


Patty Lopez is the President of Rose-A-Lee Technologies where she designs and builds optimized light-weight products. She graduated from Lawrence
Technological University with a Bachelor of Science in
Mechanical Engineering and Master of Engineering in Manufacturing Systems. Patty left a position as a Production Supervisor at Chrysler to build her own business engineering and manufacturing for multiple industries. She empowers and promotes women to advance in engineering, manufacturing, and mathematics as the President of Women in Defense. She continues her community involvement as an Inforum Macomb Affinity Group Co-Chair, and Advisor for National Defense Industrial Association Michigan Chapter, and on the Program Counsel for Leadership Macomb.