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Jesika Briones, MEEI '08

Driving automotive technology into the future


The world of the automobile has seen incredible innovation over the last several decades, with new technologies re-imagining the look, operation and use of vehicles.

Jesika Briones, a 2008 graduate of the Masters of Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEEI) program, is helping some of Ontario’s most advanced automotive technologies find their way to market success.

She is senior manager of the Toronto Regional Technology Development Site (RTDS), part of Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicles Innovation Network (AVIN).

The Toronto RTDS has a particular focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning, applied to Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C/AVs) and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS),

“Working under this initiative, I also contribute to the overall mobility and smart city organizational strategy for the MaRS Discovery District, one of the most significant innovation hubs in the world,” says Briones.

Her role involves working with other regional networks, building and maintaining strategic corporate partnerships, connecting startups to support services, and showcasing Toronto’s transportation and intelligent infrastructure technologies.

It has been an interesting 15-year path to this position for the Mexican-trained manufacturing engineer.

Briones was working for a large Japanese automotive tier 1 supplier based in Monterrey, Mexico when she decided to build on her education by enrolling at McMaster.

“My engineering path was straightforward, but I took a significant risk and decided to move to Canada - away from my family and everybody else I knew,” she says.

That gamble has immersed her in the world of innovation, entrepreneurship, and clean energy. It also led to a year-long fellowship with the prestigious public policy program Action Canada in 2014.

“I do not know many Latin, female immigrants that have had the opportunity to explore all these diverse career paths in such a time frame,” says Briones. “These opportunities have allowed me to fulfill my constant need to learn.”

She recently accepted a volunteer role as Advisor Council Member and Chair with the newly founded Toronto chapter of Girls in Tech (GIT).

In working with this organization, part of a 63,000-member global non-profit working to end gender inequality in high-tech industries and start-ups, “I am hoping to find new inspiration and share what I have learned so far with other women,” says Briones.