The following story was published by (the online edition of the Detroit Free Press) on April 27, 2018, and written by Carol Cain, a business columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Click here to view the full, original story on

Get ready to hear more about Industrial Revolution 4.0, which will impact how we work and live.

A report out Monday in Detroit and an event being held at Oakland University on May 11 will shed light on how technology continues to shape our region.

It’s the latest in a long line of similar change.

We experienced the first Industrial Revolution a century ago as water and steam mechanized production. The second revolution used electric power to create mass production. The third revolution used electronics and information technology to automate production.

Industry 4.0, as Tom Kelly calls it, is taking place, combining technologies that blend physical, digital and biological spheres in new ways.

Kelly, CEO and executive director of Troy-based Automation Alley, will release the report Monday about Industry 4.0.

“Each of the first three revolutions brought about great changes in manufacturing, but none will have an impact as powerful as Industry 4.0,” Kelly said.

The report, “Harness the Power of Industry 4.0,” includes emerging trends, challenges, opportunities and implications for industry, and is designed to help manufacturers, educators and policy makers keep pace of changes.

It includes things such as robotics, artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, advanced materials and additive manufacturing.

The report was put together with input from seven Michigan colleges and universities and eight leading industry players.

“It’s fitting that academia, industry and the nonprofit sector collaborated on this report, because an important takeaway from the findings is that Industry 4.0 readiness will require academic institutions to collaborate with industry and policymakers to realign and reform education around the needs of the marketplace,” Kelly said.

“Our report shines a light on the fact that we need to change the way we are approaching education,” he added. “We need to create lifetime learners, dynamic thinkers and innovate in new ways.”

Kelly returned from a trade mission to Germany last week that also included Gov. Rick Snyder and officials from Michigan Economic Development Corp. They attended the  Hannover Messe Industry 4.0 trade fair.

Kelly, who has run Automation Alley since 2016 when Ken Rogers retired, has been tunnel focused on 4.0.

Automation Alley is “passionate about protecting our supply chain to ensure that Michigan continues to be competitive. That means equipping our small and medium-sized manufacturers with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to increase revenue, reduce costs and think strategically during a time of rapid technological change.”

More future thinking

What kind of work will people do in five, 10 or 20 years? What are the best ways to empower workers with the skills they need to adapt? How will the future of work transform our communities?

These are the kind of questions that will be discussed during a half-day event scheduled for May 11 at Oakland University staged by New America National Network — its first in Michigan.

“The Augmented Workforce: Michigan Designing for the Future” is one of a series of gatherings held across the country.

The forum will bring together leaders from the defense, transportation, government, education and workforce sectors, and feature three panels with leaders including Automation Alley’s Kelly and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. I will moderate a panel on innovation.

“’The Augmented Workforce: Michigan Designing for the Future’ is designed to chart a path forward by elevating the bold experiments and collaborations regarding the future of work taking place in different regions,” said  Elana Broitman, director of New America NYC. “Michigan is a critical region — the birthplace of the wartime industrialization, the home to America’s automotive industry, world-class education and research, and an important military base, as well as a region spanning both dense urban and rural environments. “

The event will address the impact of automation on the workforce and economy with defense, commercial, educational and government thought leaders on hand.

New America is a think and action tank, an organization serving as a catalyst to bring together local and national experts to share ideas.

“As technology continues to transform the workforce, Michigan must revolutionize its talent development and education systems to keep up with the growing and changing talent demands of a global economy,” said Dan Olsen, of Michigan Talent and Economic Development Department, which is involved in the forum.

OU President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz has high hopes.

“The ideas that come from this event may be the ones that keep metro Detroit a science and engineering leader today, tomorrow and for years to come,” she said.

Louay M. Chamra, dean of the OU’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, says this event is  intended to put the conversation into overdrive and help drive Michigan’s future as a leader.

“From there (after the forum), we will have the building blocks in place to make sure that all of those concerned about the future of southeast Michigan can continue the work to keep our region a leader in autonomous technology and industry needs that lie ahead,” Chamra said .

“The Augmented Workforce: Michigan Designing for the Future” event is free. For details see or call 646-518-2606.

Contact Carol Cain: 313-222-6732 or She is senior producer/host of “Michigan Matters,” which airs at 11:30 a.m. Sundays on CBS 62. See Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck on this Sunday’s show.

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