Monday, March 4, 2013

Is robotics the key to STEM education?

Last weekend I was one of the fifteen judges for the FIRST Robotics Regional Championship in Myrtle Beach, SC. Have you ever been to an engineering event with these characteristics?

  • Loud music and dancing everything from the YMCA song to the Harlem Shake. I don't mean one or two people, I mean the entire coliseum audience including the judges. 
  • Young people fighting to get on the team by taking math and science courses to qualify.
  • Kids writing marketing plans and going out to sell them to corporations to get funding not just selling magazines, popcorn, or candy bars. 
  • Teams with almost as many adult sponsors and coaches as team members. 
  • Pits that look like NASCAR body shops complete with banners and tools on the wall.
  • Competitors helping each other with engineering challenges so both can compete in the heats against each other.
This is the future of America. I've been working with this group for four years now and couldn't be more pleased. The judges are so dedicated that 12 of the fifteen were repeat judges from last year without pay and with 12 hour days. 
We had 65 high school teams last week. 

This is one great organization.  Check it out. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A time to spend and time to refrain from spending.

Several years ago my wife and I decided we would like to get out of debt. We took the Dave Ramsey course and one of the actions was to cut up our credit cards. We found out that if we had to pay cash for groceries at the big box stores, we spent about 50% less. In our nation's time of fiscal incompetency I've tried to come up with some innovation that would help us get back on track. I did previously write about a technology that would save 30% on fuel economy. I have a number of other technologies that would assist in that area and other areas that currently cost us an arm and a leg.

One of the books that I read as part of Ramsey's course was The Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven K. Scott. It's about Solomon. We have great abundance in the U.S. so why are we so BROKE? This quote from Proverbs 26:16 might be the answer.  "The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.."

When you get to the bottom of the soup dish quit eating. We should try to spend CASH for a change. We throw around   numbers like TRILLION like it was chump change. If we had to actually count it out, the spending would drop precipitously. We might also want to start teaching math again in grammar school. Many of our politicians can't count to a Trillion. Our children deserve better.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What would a device to save you 30% on fuel costs be worth?

With diesel fuel running about $4 per gallon that would be a savings of over $1 per gallon. Are we talking theoretical here or is this a realistic possibility?  Believe it or not it's real. Some smart engineers that have experience in the refining industry have designed a unit that does exactly that. It saves roughly 28% in fuel costs on the average. There have been tons of claims in recent years about fantastic technologies that would "Save American Industry" and make us competitive in areas that we have lost to overseas low cost manufacturers. One thing that has not changed is the innovativeness of Americans. If you look at a number of the members of the Dolphin & Eagle ATTIC you will find a bunch of these companies that make some pretty fantastic claims. One has a vehicle that runs on almost any terrain. Another has a container lock that can be operated remotely. Another has a miniature UAV. American innovativeness is alive and well. We just need more courage and strength to push these developments over the threshold of profitability. Stay tuned for the technologies of the future. The company with the diesel device is HYDROPHI.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What has a mountain got to do with Freedom?

Several years ago we went to Grandfather's Mountain in NC and climbed the Daniel Boone Trail. We didn't know exactly what we were getting into until it was too late to turn back and a little bit dangerous for our party. The trail was steep and rocky but we ended up making it OK with no lasting issues. I do admit that at one point I heard the 73 old lady with us yell. Steve, and I reached out and grabbed her by the leg before she tried to fly from a very high rock cropping. America seems to be in one of those difficult trails now with it's economy and the business climate that I see. After paying my "fair share" of taxes this year, I'm looking at a large percentage of my earnings and savings going to pay for government programs that aren't run efficiently or are simply not needed. After working in the government for 10 years as a civilian and 25 years in uniform as a Naval Officer, I can make these statements with absolute first hand knowledge. I was just sent this quote from Abraham Lincoln. Please take note and consider this:


You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.  
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.  
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.  
-- Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A new journey

We have embarked on a new phase of our journey with a 25 foot Airstream trailer. Being a submarine officer with 17 years of sea duty, I see allot of the same issues that we had at sea. If you don't have it with you, you need to make do with what you have.
Being limited in space makes you more cautious about what you take with you. You may be sleeping with it if you don't have a place to store it. We don't waste anything: electrical power, water, etc. Some of the best technology that I've seen in the past few months is in the alternative energy area. Currently I have a 600w wind turbine in my office. I'm waiting to get it on the roof. In our hurricane prone area of the coast, that might just allow us to have electricity when every other house is dark. Our turbulent times call not for violence but for thoughtful, hardworking Americans to reach back to the past and pull the values that our fathers and grand fathers taught us and drag them into the future with new technology and new answers. No whining here. I still remember when my family didn't have running water or indoor bathrooms.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Biomaterials Science Chapter on product development

I was asked by a friend, Dr. Yitzhak Rosen, to contribute a chapter to his book on the topic of Innovative Product Development and Technology Adoption for Medical Applications. I'm proud to say we actually made it through the process and you can purchase the book on Amazon. The book title is Biomaterials Science: an integrated Clinical and Engineering Approach by Yitzhak  Rosen and Noel Elman. I guess success breeds success so as a result, I've been asked to expand that chapter into a book of its own. It will probably be available next spring. I'm working on the draft now. It's a test  of self-discipline.  It will have a number of references to the submarine environment and to innovation in general so maybe it will be interesting to both salty sea dogs and to innovators.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A while back I was asked to contribute to a book being written by a very good friend. I'm proud to say that we actually finished it and it is available for purchase on Amazon. The book is a text book on Biomaterials Science, An integrated clinical and engineering approach by Yitzhak Rosen and Noel Elman. There are some very high level people contributing and I'm happy to say that the final chapter of the book was my contribution, Innovative Product Development and Technology Adoption for Medical Applications.