Opportunities in Aerospace & Defence

Opportunities in Aerospace & Defence

Emerging Technologies Speaker Series presents:

Opportunities in Aerospace & Defence

JUNE 13, 2022 • 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM EDT

This in-person event was hosted by Invest WindsorEssex in partnership with the Canadian Association of Moldmakers, Automate Canada, Pilot Hill/Best Defence Conference, Fraunhofer Project Centre/University of Western Ontario, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Canada Aerospace and Black Ridge Defence.

The session provided information on opportunities and requirements (certifications) for local companies (manufacturers and automation companies specifically) to supply customers in the aerospace and defence industry and to partner with the Fraunhofer Project Centre at Western University on R&D projects.


 Heather Pilot

President of Pilot Hill Ltd.

Heather Pilot is President of Pilot Hill Ltd., the company that produces The Best Defence Conference each November in London, Ontario. http://bestdefenceconference.com

Heather has a strong background in international marketing and economic development having served as Director of Canadian operations in Toronto for two U.S. states and, prior to starting Pilot Hill Ltd., was Director Business Development at the London Economic Development Corporation.

Recognized for her efforts in creating awareness of the large cluster of defence and advanced manufacturing companies in Southern Ontario, she was nominated and selected as one of Canada’s Top 20 Women in the Canadian Defence World for 2018 by Esprit de Corps magazine. She was the 2018 recipient of the London Convention Centre Ambassador Awards and serves on McMaster University’s Aerospace and Defence Advisory Committee.

Vanja Ugresic, P.Eng, MESc

Manager of Operations, Fraunhofer Project Centre @ Western University

Vanja joined Fraunhofer Project Centre@ Western in 2012. The Fraunhofer Project Center for Composites Research @ Western (FPC@ Western) is a not-for-profit joint venture between the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technologies (Fraunhofer ICT) in Pfinztal, Europe’s largest application-orientated research organization, and Western University in London, Ontario. FPC@Western is the state-of-the-art equipped research centre with full industrial scale equipment where the focus is on developing and processing composite materials for lightweight applications.

At the FPC@Western, Vanja was initially responsible for project management and planning, executing and evaluating the manufacturing trials on full industrial scale in the field of compression moulded fiber reinforced thermoplastics. She was engaged in multiple, industry-led collaborative academic research and development programs focused on process and material development of polymer composites for high volume production rates.

Vanja now manages the operations at the FPC@Western, overlooking the developments on short, long and continuous fiber technologies with both thermoplastic and thermoset resins. Since the FPC@ Western is a platform for the knowledge transfer she manages training opportunities for students and researches who can then translate and use their knowledge to advance composite innovations into safer, lighter and stronger products.

Vanja received her Master of Engineering Science (Chemical Engineering) and her Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from Western University, London, Canada. She worked at Techniche Universitat Munchen, Germany, as a Project Leader.

Alexander Tsoulis, P.Eng

Senior Advisor – Business Development & Advanced Technologies, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Canada Aerospace

Over 35 years of experience with McDonnell Douglas, Boeing and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Canada Aerospace (MHICA).

Extensive experience in the design and development of commercial aircraft (regional jet through wide body), military aircraft (transport, helicopter, fighter) and business jet (light to heavy) platforms.

Involved in initial concepts, product implementation and product / fleet support. Covering life cycle technical, quality, schedule and cost activities in an Integrated Product Team (IPT) environment.

Large emphasis on advanced design, advanced manufacturing technology, global collaboration and business development.

Considerable long term interaction with government, university, research and industry organizations.

Alex Tsoulis graduated with a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and Diploma in Aerospace Engineering Technology from Ryerson University.

Alain Gauthier

President, Black Ridge Defence

Alain Gauthier is an experienced executive leader who has repeatedly demonstrated highly refined leadership, project management, consensus building, and change management skills which have resulted in a recognized superior track record in attaining business and operational goals.

Alain served 23 years in the Canadian Army, 14 years at Thales Canada with growing responsibilities starting as Project Manager and promoted through to Vice President for Canadian Business Unit prior to transitioning to Vice President for Canadian Programs at Mack Defence in 2015 where he was responsible for delivering the over $1.0B (Cad) MSVS program of 1587 trucks, trailers and Armoured Cabs to the Canadian Army.

Alain Gauthier is a versatile, dynamic and proven performer with excellent experience in military and Canadian industry and is regarded as someone who “delivers”.