MRO Magazine

Champion race car driver to kick off Fabtech Canada event

Toronto - He has rolled over a rally car in the middle of the woods at night and yet still found his way to the finish line to win. He has performed motorcycle repairs across Africa in the basements of strangers' homes using batteries as...


Toronto – He has rolled over a rally car in the middle of the woods at night and yet still found his way to the finish line to win. He has performed motorcycle repairs across Africa in the basements of strangers’ homes using batteries as welding equipment. He has even stopped in the hills outside of Morocco to repair a Volkswagen minivan using whatever was at hand – including a stick of chewing gum.

Now, TV personality and champion race car driver Andrew Comrie-Picard is coming to Toronto to deliver the keynote address at the first-ever Fabtech Canada event, to be held March 20-22, 2012, at the Toronto Congress Centre. He says he plans to inspire attendees to stay in touch with the “human side” of engineering as they search for ways to re-invent or re-style their businesses in the face of challenging times.

“We’re smarter than we think,” says Comrie-Picard, whose presentation is being sponsored by Autodesk, a developer of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. “The great thing about the human mind is that we can be endlessly innovative when we have to be.”

At Fabtech Canada – presented by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) together with Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl. (FMA) and the American Welding Society (AWS) – Comrie-Picard will encourage the fabricating industry to think outside of the box. This, he says, is a skill he relies on whether he’s trying to come first in a rally race or attempting to turn a car into an airplane in three days on a television series. The real message, he says, is to learn to trust human intuition when it comes to devising solutions to problems, especially in pressure situations like a tough economy.

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“Engineering at its best is really a marrying of the best available technology with the best intuitive, sensible input from humans,” says Comrie-Picard, who holds five university degrees, including a Master’s degree in Political Theory from Oxford, and who left a high-profile law career in New York City to pursue his racing passion full-time.

“Sometimes, under pressure out in the field, engineering may be inexact, yet perfect for the job at hand,” he adds, noting that his race team once used a spare tire storage strap to re-fasten a front strut.

To help demonstrate what it means to “engineer on the fly,” he is bringing an extremely rare Ford Escort Cosworth to the show for display purposes, a car he once used to win the 2006 Black Bear Rally in Ontario. Meanwhile, he will draw on his personal experience to demonstrate that there’s always a solution to a problem if you’re willing to dig deep to find it.

“If you’re asked to do something unusual – perhaps a pressing or a stamping that’s never been done before – all that means is that it’s never been done before,” he says. “You may have to re-style your company, but if you recognize your strengths and build on them, you will end up more successful than ever.”

Fabtech Canada will feature an extensive exhibition floor, side-by-side machine evaluations, expert-led educational sessions, Canada’s Best Welder Competition and many networking opportunities.

Autodesk will be presenting Andrew Comrie-Picard’s keynote speech on Tuesday, March 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 am.

For more information, visit www.fabtechcanada.com. Show updates are also available on Twitter and LinkedIn.