Cars for the Cure - The First Annual Drive to End Diabetes

The IMTS Rally Fighter participated in the first annual Cars for the Cure last week. What a great show. Not only did attendees get to choose the winners, but additionally all the proceeds went to the research to cure type 1-diabetes. The IMTS Rally Fighter was picked as a winner of the competition.

Cars for the Cure was hosted by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) which is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until they can achieve a world without T1D. The event was held in Great Falls, Virginia and raised $28,000 dollars for research.

The idea was hatched by 12 year-old Michael Sevila, who was diagnosed with T1D last year at the Fairfax Hospital. After many nights of wondering how he could help himself and others with T1D, Michael fused his passion for working on cars with the idea that cars bring families and friends together. We are proud to have been involved in the show and the search for a cure.

Technology's UFOs (Undefined Financial Objects)

It wasn't that long ago that Facebook went public. After a rocky start, Facebook now trades at over $50 a share. A year later, the feature IPO of 2013 is Twitter. The seven year old company that has never turned a profit should be going public quite soon, though the exact date has yet to be announced.

While Twitter has hundreds of millions of members and draws more than a billion inquiries daily, the hope of getting in the black still eludes them. Divorce of cash, Twitter has been key in many recent world events -- civil unrest in the Middle East to enormous fluctuation in the stock market due to a hacking. It is nearly a challenge to find a news program that does not flash a hashtag to provide a feed of comments from Twitter followers. And despite its ubiquitousness, still no profit.

Employing the microblog may not appeal to every industry or every company, but the news of the IPO does bring new attention and light to Twitter. How does technology-driven yammering derive financial success with nearly intangible and often fleeting conent? Twitter will open on the market for somewhere between $17 and $20 a share. Facebook operned at $38 though they have a well-established machanism for paid advertisers.

How much would you pay for Twitter? Would subscriber dues be a viable option or woul dit be more feasible to have corporatations pay to use the content on the feed? As Twitter executives traveled the country to speak with potential investors and get a handle on what an adequate offering might be, they had to manage to up-sell the value of Twitter while notanly lacking profit . . . quite a feat. Maybe the stock offering will appeal the most to though who find the value in microblogging that cannot be identified with green backs.

And ironically, though Twitter is groundbreaking and leading-edge, they still utilized Powerpoint for their IPO Roadshow. I doubt that impressed Prezi.

MTConnect Challenge 2: Big Competition, Bigger Prizes

If you thought that the competition for MTConnect Challenge 1 was intense, just wait. AMT, working with the Department of Defense, has begun the second part of the MTConnect Challenge. MTConnect Challenge 2, which started accepting submissions on July 1, 2013, is shaping up to be bigger than MTConnect Challenge 1 in both difficulty and reward. Unlike the first half, which asked for ambitious yet achievable ideas for utilizing data acquired via the MTConnect standard, MTConnect Challenge 2 is seeking the development of software applications that enable these manufacturing intelligence breakthroughs. 

And because the challenge has moved from ideas to useable software applications, the prizes are now substantially larger. The first competition rewarded $5,000 to each of the five winners. The MTConnect Challenge 2, however, will only have three winners: First prize receives $100,000; second prize receives $75,000; and third prize receives $50,000. Compare that to the winnings of the first challenge and it's easy to see why anticipation and excitement are gripping MTConnect Challenge 2. 

Submissions have already begun to emerge from many different companies. One of the earliest and most notable submissions comes from Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO), located in Plymouth, Indiana. They have implemented and released one of the ideas that they submitted for MTConnect Challenge 1: MTConnect + Google Glass. This application merges the MTConnect standard with Google's new Glass technology. Workers and managers can then quickly access manufacturing data without a computer or hand-held device.

Participation in MTConnect Challenge 1 is not a prerequisite for Challenge 2, so anyone can submit. Each submission will be judged in five distinct categories: 

  • Benefits to Manufacturing Intelligence
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Practicality of Concept
  • Impact on Industry
  • Overall Quality
  • Test

The submission period ends January 31, 2014, and the winners will be announced in April 2014. So if you're looking to test your software development skills or if you just want to take a shot at winning $100,000, start creating your vision of the most innovative manufacturing intelligence application.

The Kids Are Alright!

I’ve heard a lot about how the current crop of young people are entitled, lazy, and unprepared for a rapidly changing employment landscape - where competition from millions of technically skilled foreign workers will bring about the end of the American middle class. Pretty scary stuff! On a recent trip to Penn High School in Mishawaka, IN, however, I met a group of super smart, highly engaged high school students learning technical skills and applying them directly to projects with a proficiency I could have only dreamed about at their age. Due to the school’s difficult curriculum, these kids will be able to land a job immediately after leaving high school, with or without a college education, and make some serious coin. In the immortal words of The Who, “The Kids Are Alright!”­­­  

I traveled out to Mishawaka for Making College Work Night, an event co-sponsored by AMT, local manufacturing companies, and various educational institutions. We brought the IMTS Rally Fighter to drum up excitement about the event and draw attention to the diverse careers available in the manufacturing technology industry. As a group of students from the STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Math) Academy were helping me roll the car down the hall, I got word that they were building a ladder climbing, Frisbee throwing robot. Being an avid disc tosser since high school, I was intrigued and grabbed my video camera to get a closer look.  

As I entered the STEM wing of the high school I was immediately impressed by all of the resources these students had at their disposal. Everywhere I looked there were fully loaded Macs and PCs running CAD software. Adjacent to the classrooms was a fully equipped fabrication shop loaded with machine tools, welding gear, and soldering stations. It was a different level than the physics classrooms I remember in high school, containing a few oscilloscopes and some scales. 

After a day of interviews, trust me when I say the future is in very good hands. The students I met were a cut above the rest and destined to kick some serious butt in life. Everybody I spoke with was extremely knowledgeable, and I found myself struggling to just keep up, much less ask an intelligent follow-up question that didn’t let on I had no idea what they were talking about. I can’t imagine where I would be if my high school had those kind of resources and pushed me to experiment with different skill sets before deciding what I wanted to do in college and with the rest of my life.  

Penn High School is stepping up and providing its students with the technical skills and knowledge they need to get good paying jobs straight out of high school and succeed in an increasingly competitive and global workplace. The future success of the manufacturing industry in the U.S. depends on providing upcoming generations with the skills and knowledge they need to compete and build solutions. Penn High School is a shining example of how to accomplish just that. 

Watch the video below for interviews with Penn High School students and teachers as well as a demonstration of their ultimate ascent robot. 


At Your Library: Books, DVDs ... Demolition Hammers?

In some communities, the library is more than a repository of books, or a place where you get shushed for talking too loud. These days, libraries are offering courses on things like butchering and home brewing, and in some cases offering the equipment needed to do it.

As we grow into a more DIY culture, and libraries look for ways to appeal to a new audience, these types of offerings are popping up in many places. The Wall Street Journal recently printed an article on the trend. Perhaps growing frustrated with not having some of the hands-on skills of previous generations, many people are learning to do things like sewing, carpentry, car repair, and acquiring other skills for things that are often left to a paid professional.

With a trend growing toward individualized and one-off manufacturing, one can only imagine that it's just a matter of time before 3-D printing enters that same realm. Or maybe even courses in things like welding and CNC machining, or robotics programming.

What type of manufacturing-related courses would you like to see at your local library?


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