Thursday, February 28, 2013

Meet the Vacaville Robodogs Team #2085: "We're More Than Ready"

Bishop-Wisecarver is proud to be a Diamond Supplier this year of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) — we're even more proud of the teams we sponsor. These groups of students, mentors, and volunteers are dedicated to the cause, and it's an honor to share with you their story.

This week, we'd like to feature team #2085 located in Vacaville, CA at Vacaville High School. This is our first year as a sponsor of the Robodogs, but it's not their first year to battle. With more than six years of participation under their belt, the team knows the ins and outs of participating in FRC.

After working for more than 36 hours straight to meet the season's build deadline, the team's CFO Tyler K. took time out to meet with us for a Q&A session.

To see a photo gallery update of the team, click here.

Question: We recognize that FIRST is not just about building a robot. What else does this competition encompass for you, and what are you learning as you prepare for the competition?

Answer: For me, it’s a lot of working with people and about building managerial skills, like getting a group to work collectively towards one goal. FIRST is a lot about people, and lots of problem solving; working one on one to resolve interpersonal conflicts.

I do all the budgets, team logistics, and one hundred percent of the team’s travel coordination and planning. I do a lot of the paperwork that goes along with the normal presidency that we've had in years past, as well.
Courtesy of Team #2085

Question: What do you think your team is best at? Do you think that you and the other team members have discovered new interests and talents through FIRST thus far, and if so, what are they?

Answer: I would say our team is best at formulating ideas and shooting for the stars. We engage in a lot of theoretical engineering. We know AutoCAD. We do spend a lot of time on the idealistic, conceptual aspects.

Personally, I’d originally wanted to be a neuroscientist, but after going through FIRST build season I realized I’d rather lead and manage than do the actual technical work.

Question: Which aspect(s) of the FIRST Robotics Competition is your team most excited about and why?

I enjoy the actual competition. The team is excited about seeing other teams’ designs as well as the different ideas that were generated, and being a part of the collective engineering community.

Question: FIRST provides many opportunities to enhance and engage different skill sets. What skills are your team members building and do you plan to use these skills in the future, such as in a field or career you’re interested in pursuing?
Courtesy of Team #2085

A lot of them go into engineering careers. About six out of the seven of the engineering majors go into mechanical or electrical engineering. And 85-90% of the graduating seniors that participate in FIRST go into engineering. Twenty-five percent of MIT's incoming freshman participated in FIRST. Teri Benart, a FIRST Regional Manager, shared a lot of these fun facts with me.

Question: Even though we’re not to the competition yet, we know that sometimes it’s not just about the outcome, but about the process as well. What are your team’s greatest accomplishments thus far?

Answer: I would say that the amount of work and the dedication from each team member is one of the team’s greatest accomplishments.

Our first competition is this Friday—the Central Valley Competition that will be held in Madera.

Spiritually and motivationally speaking, I think we are more than ready.

When we go through build season, there is something everyone takes away from it, and that it could not be done without gracious sponsors such as Bishop-Wisecarver Group.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Twitter Friday: "Automate your process. Not your inspiration."

"Automate your process. Not your inspiration." That was the tagline for the ATX West event in Anaheim this week at the co-located UBM Canon annual West Coast trade show. Bishop-Wisecarver set up in the Automation Technology Expo in hall C with other motion control component and system focused manufacturers. Mo the Linear Guide Wheel, our mascot of all things motion without limits, rolled the show floor for the latest and greatest — from skeletons to medical equipment software.

In today's edition of Twitter Friday, we've selected our top five posts from this week's MDM West festivities. Did we miss something? Let us know!

1. 10 Quick Fixes for Trade Show Booths via Managing trade shows can tough, so here's a great list of 10 quick fixes you may need even though you spent weeks planning for the very best.

Credit: BWC
2. Instagram Show Floor Coverage of MD&M West via Check out our recap reel of Mo the Linear Guide Wheel's adventures on our Pinterest wall.

3. Think Like a Designer via "MD+DI caught up with him in advance of his MD&M West presentation to talk about Assumption Storming, industrial design, and how his background in interior design informs his approach to medical device design." Check out this great piece that will get you thinking like a design engineer!

4. MD&M West Tweetup by Design World via Whether you joined the group digitally on Twitter by following the party under the hashtag of #MDMtweetup or you met the team in person, fun was had by all! "Come and mingle and have a drink with engineers at MD&M West interested in social media at this year's Tweetup. There will be free food & appetizers as well as a raffle for $25 gift cards." With an event description like that, how could you refuse?

Credit: Thomas Net
5. Survey says manufacturing needs a brand makeover via "Future success can and does depend on Americans taking pride in products being made in the U.S.A," said ThomasNet in a tweet this week under the #MDMwest hashtag. Tell us what you think!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Women Moving Manufacturing Forward: STEP Ahead 2013 Awards

Pamela Kan, President of Bishop-Wisecarver Group, was honored this month at the annual event with 121 other women for their important roles in manufacturing. STEP Awards was established in order to honor numerous female leaders in the manufacturing industry.

“These 122 women are the faces of exciting careers in manufacturing,” stated Jennifer McNelly in a recently released press announcement, President of The Manufacturing Institute (MI).  “We chose to honor these women because they each made significant achievements in manufacturing through positive impact on their company and the industry as a whole.”

The STEP Awards are part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative launched by MI, DeloitteUniversity of Phoenix, and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, to examine and promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research, and best practices for attracting, advancing, and retaining strong female talent.

According to this study, 51.3% of survey respondents believe that women’s under-representation in manufacturing is driven by the perception that the industry culture is biased towards men. Research through this study also showed that the concern about the stability of U.S. manufacturing is tremendous. Survey respondents ranked manufacturing #1 as a staple of the U.S. economy. However, when asked about their tendencies toward the field of manufacturing as a prospective career, many proclaimed that it is a field "...for someone else.”

Fortunately, through the advancement and promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, there is increased hope that women will have easier access to the manufacturing industry through both technical preparation, as well as through expanded awareness of the career options available within the industry.

Superseding the idea that manufacturing is a withering field will be tantamount, the Deloitte and MI study found on behalf of respondents. Recommendations for the coming years including building strong employer brands and improving the external image of the industry so that manufacturing job satisfaction for women--which generally trends high--is reflected outwardly in public reflections of the field are noted in the study.

What do you think? Weigh in on this hot manufacturing topic. Get active on Twitter using the hashtag #mfgwomen

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

#CoffeeChat: QuickTrak, Fast Track Intro to Modular Linear Guides

BACK ON TRACK The QuickTrak® modular based platform of linear guides and sub-assemblies was created to meet the needs of customers who required modification of existing machines — a quick, simple way to mount guidance systems. Think of it like an erector set for manufacturers, engineers and automation solution providers. These guides mount easily onto any beams with T-nut and T-slot-based kit of parts.

We sat down with one of our engineers, Leslie Lui, over coffee to discuss the possibilities of this particular type of motion solution. Here's what he had to say:

Why did we create this product? 
LL: QuickTrak was developed to aid machine builders seeking linear guidance solutions that offer flexible design and easy-to-assemble characteristics.

Most linear guide products require highly customized precision-machined components and mounting features in order to be integrated into an application. We made QuickTrak to cut the amount of time and work required for machine builders to design and build linear guide systems into their applications.

The QuickTrak product philosophy is about building linear guide systems from modular, cut-to-length and easy-to-piece-together parts instead of custom-designing the system and components from scratch.

Who benefits from using QuickTrak?
LL: QuickTrak benefits any machine builder who wants to quickly add a customized linear guidance system into their application with as little assembly and machining effort as possible.

How does QuickTrak help machine builders?
LL: QuickTrak support assemblies permit DualVee® track to be easily mounted to applications without the need for careful machining and preparation of any mounting substrates. QuickTrak single-edge and double-edge track supports can be mounted onto standard T-slot extrusions with readily available fasteners and do not require any mounting substrate machining. QuickTrak double-edge track supports can also be mounted to most flat surfaces, requiring only the machining of suitable mounting holes.

QuickTrak wheel plate assemblies are composed of specialized sets of wheel and brake components fastened onto custom profile T-slot extrusion wheel plates. QuickTrak wheel plate assemblies are designed to be put together with simple hand tools.

The T-slots serve as mounting features for both the customer payload and wheel plate assembly components. The T-slots span the entire width of the wheel plate, providing far more mounting possibilities for customers than individual mounting holes. The width of the wheel plate can be quickly and easily sized to match customer-determined track support spans and accommodate specific extruded stock. Optional brake sub-assemblies permit wheel plate assemblies to be quickly locked in any desired position on their track support assemblies.

[ Click here ] to download free CAD drawings, catalogs, and data sheets about QuickTrak

Monday, February 4, 2013

Think Like An Engineer: Linear Guide Technologies

Is your brain in motion? Today is the first Monday of February, so l
et us help jump start your brain and get those wheels turning with one of our "Think Like an Engineer" game posts.

In this week's edition, we're featuring a linear guide technology matching game — great for educators to share in the classroom,
FIRST robotics students, and anyone else looking to brush up on all things related to linear motion.

In today's game, we're asking you to match up the following terms with the appropriate images: cam follower, plain bearing, profile rail, and profile guide wheel.

[ DOWNLOAD ] the game and get started — good luck! You can check out other fun games like word search and crosswords for engineers on our website.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Top Five Tweets of the Week: STEM to STEAM, Bearings for Figure Skating, and California Job Losses

Rolling into 2013 with lots of exciting announcements about new engineering services and contract manufacturing offerings, we still have a keen eye on all things motion-related and that which inspires us through STEM initiatives (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). But wait — have you heard the latest buzzword around STEM? What really caught our attention was topics related to "STEAM", which incorporates "art" into the acronym, is a movement championed by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and adopted widely by institutions, corporations, and individuals.
1. STEM-to-STEAM: An Initiative That Brings Alludes that Technology Requires Creativity via We're really excited about the objectives of this movement; Transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM, encourage integration of Art + Design in K-20 education, and influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation. The website also says that STEAM was developed with the notion that technical know-how alone may not be enough to drive innovation, so as the United States marches further into the 21st century, institutions, companies, and other organizations alike are becoming, shall we say, more creative. In order to solve our nation’s current problems, an interdisciplinary, well-rounded approach that blends vital fields may be key.

2. California Loses 2,600 Manufacturing Jobs in December 2012 via In terms of manufacturing job growth, California did not finish the year out strong and did indeed continue to shed manufacturing jobs. In fact, according to 2001-2012 data, California manufacturing is declining 13% more than the U.S. In addition to that, California’s manufacturing base has eroded 32% since 2001 – a loss of over 600,000 manufacturing jobs that paid, on average, $20,000 a year more than service jobs.

3. Do Engineers Use Social Media? via Yes, according to Calgavin, who reports that a whopping 61%, or over half of all engineers, use social media for work-related activities. According to their study, engineers use the following social media channels accordingly:
  • Google+: 33% 
  • LinkedIn: 43% 
  • Twitter: 22% 
  • Facebook: 67% 

And, their favorite types of content? Videos, articles, white papers, images, webinars, interviews, and forums!

4. Smart Manufacturing Will Rise to Global Challenges via Rockwell Automation’s CEO Keith Nosbusch has an interesting take on the future of manufacturing: "The coming decade will be the first in 200 years when emerging-market countries contribute more growth than the developed ones," says Nosbusch. He attributes this theory primarily to the high economic uncertainty within the United States, that is putting the brakes on current and future growth possibilities. Emerging markets, on the other hand, are developing to the point where increased manufacturing is needed, and may be able to occur in a much more cost-efficient, economically sound climate. Nosbusch attributed smart technology to 3 key drivers: technology, talent, and infrastructure.
5. Did you Know That Figure Skating Harnesses Use Ball Bearings? via Pulley systems, with harnesses, are used in figure skating to help ice skaters master jumps. These pulley systems utilize ball bearings and are of substantial strength in order to bear the weight of figure skaters of a variety of ages and sizes. The pulley system is operated by the coach or trainer, who helps hoist the skater into the area, and/or stabilizes their “in air” position to prolong a jump.

With that said, falling on hard surfaces can still make a skater prone to injury, so the more help a skater can get during his or her training, even in the form of jumping assistance, the better! Such equipment can be extremely useful to the skater who is trying to master his or her moves, reducing chances of hard falls.

THANKS — We hope you enjoyed this week's wrap up! Join us at @BWCnews for daily updates!