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Tireside Chats: Meeting Industry Members on the Floor at WCX

Posted: April 6, 2022

SAE International’s WCX is back in-person for the first time in three years, and there’s a lot of buzz happening throughout Huntington Place. We stopped and chatted with a few exhibitors and attendees about their experiences at WCX and what is exciting them in the industry today. Check out what they had to say!


Matthew Panec, 44 Energy Techologies

What brought you out to WCX?

This is my first time at WCX, I’ve graduated college pretty recently, [and] my company had this opportunity to attend.

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve experienced so far?

I enjoyed the first talk that I attended. It was an overview from an author [Kelly Senecal]; the book was Racing Toward Zero. It was a great presentation and most of his talk was on lifecycle analysis which is something I am really interested in.

What will you take away from your WCX experience?

I am looking to gain some more knowledge and hopefully to be inspired by something that I can use in a job later on in life.


Prachi Vakharia, SafeAI Inc., Strategic Advisor

What future innovations are you most excited about?

I just spoke on a panel on EV charging infrastructure. Connected vehicles and automated vehicles are still a bit far away, but what’s most exciting is the technologies happening today are the electrification in the transportation sector and the infrastructure that needs to support it.

Have you been to WCX before?

This is my first time here and it has been a fantastic experience. There is an interesting mix of people from the automotive sector, but also other industries, so it is great to bring people together, along with the exhibitors. I think this is a very engaging conference.

What has stood out to you the most at WCX? 

The people that you didn’t expect to meet! Working with people for many years and then finally finding them at WCX has been really exciting.


Michael Burz, Enzinc™, President and CEO

What has been the most exciting part of your experience at WCX?

First of all, it is really nice to be at a conference that is not virtual. It demonstrates that as much as virtual conferences are efficient, I don’t think they’re as effective as being able to meet people face to face. I know it’s a cliché, but all the serendipitous meeting with people that come by, you never would have met in a virtual conference and [get to] tell them what you’re doing and in return find out what they’re doing.

Why did you decide to come out to WCX this year?

This is our first time at WCX, and it was primarily because of the Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Competition (GAMIC). We (Enzinc) were a finalist in the competition that took place earlier this week.

What’s next for you?

We have been working with the United States Naval Research Laboratory in the development of a new form of zinc to be used in batteries. The Navy is interested in it, and we think there is commercial applications. What that means is you have a battery which has the energy of lithium, but is as low cost to led acid, but is safer.


Justin Kurncz, Michigan Tech University

What brought you to WCX this year?

This is my first time at WCX, I am a part of Michigan Tech’s SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, one of the CDS events, and we were told about this by our faculty advisor.

What is the best thing you’ve experienced so far?

Definitely meeting new people and networking. There are so many people here that have a plethora of knowledge and we get to hear about a lot of really cool opportunities, and it has given us the opportunity to show off a lot of cool projects we have been working on all year.

What’s part of industry are you most excited to explore after college?

The automotive industry and its relations to the powersports stuff we do at Michigan Tech and how it relates to going electric is going to be huge. It is already starting in industries like this (powersports). I’m excited to see where that goes.

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