Tuesday, January 31, 2012

National Mentoring Month Flashback: Meet Al Latham

Credit: Bishop-Wisecarver archives
We recently blogged about how January is National Mentoring Month — a time set aside to recognize role models. American Politician John Crosby once said, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”

With that in mind, we moseyed on over to Bud Wisecarver's office last Friday to pick his brain. We asked, "Who was your most memorable mentor?" Without missing a beat, the 84-year-old inventor named the late Al Latham, an engineer involved in the construction of the 
Bay Bridge in 1936 and the Golden Gate Bridge a year later.

Credit: Bay Bridge Public Information Office
"I learned a lot from him about business and life in general," said Bud. "He was a great guy."
Al was a force to be reckoned with, he told us. Bud was in his mid-20s when he met Al, an independent distributor for a window blinds manufacturer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"He was sharp," Bud reminisced. "The only Levolor distributor who wasn't part of the company ... that's how much they trusted him, that they'd let a non-employee represent them."

The two met in Oakland, where Bud was building a speed boat for a friend who worked with Al. Bud was in the middle of the project when Al walked up to him and boldly said, "That's not how you build a boat!"

"I told him yes, actually, it is," Bud said. "I know what I'm doing."

Bud's confidence and Al's straightforward attitude clicked. The two immediately hit it off. Soon after, the two were working together to overhaul  the blinds manufacturing facility. Al worked on designs and Bud brought the plans to life.

"I wanted to get married and have a steady job instead of my small little business," Bud said. 
So when offered the challenge, he accepted. The redesign wound up improving the plant's efficiency so much so that production tripled. Instead of running six hours a day, four days a week,  the Levelor plant turned into an all-day operation. Bud, by upping productivity and reliability, automated himself out of a job. But he came away from it with a lifelong friend in Al.

Years later, Al was the one responsible for gifting Bud his first machine shop — an old, tool-stocked warehouse in West Oakland. When Bud later incorporated his truck accessory manufacturing business named 
W.R. Wisecarver Company, he gave Al a share, even though he didn't ask for it.

"It was the least I could do," Bud said. "He helped me get started in life."

[ Click here to learn more about National Mentoring Month ] Tell us a story about one of your most memorable mentors. Or, maybe you have a story to share from the mentor's perspective! Check out part 4 of our "Life of an Inventor" webisode series where Bud talks about his first time meeting Al and the projects they worked on together.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Big Win for the Heritage High Robotics Team!

One of the high school robotics teams we are sponsoring this year for FIRST just shared some exciting news with us — and we want to spread the word on the web! Our group of Heritage High robot-makers extraordinaire — team name: The Patriots — took home the Inspire Award for best overall team at a FIRST Tech Challenge regional qualifier this past weekend. Awesome job!

The trophy means this group of students had the most well-rounded team out of the few-dozen that competed in the competition. Their coach and robotics teacher Robert Pardi told us the Inspire Award is the top prize at regionals. Why did they win? Pardi said the students were recognized for their up-to-date journal of robot building, plans and strategies. The students also stay engaged in the local community, he said. All those things contributed to the prize.

"It was phenomenal," said Pardi of the honor. "It's confirmation that we're on the right track."

The recognition has boosted the students' resolve, he added. Now they're all fired up about the next big contest — the Northern California Robotics Championship coming up on March 4. Seeing other high school teams in action gave Pardi's students a better idea of how to strategize, so they can go into the next championship with renewed confidence and a fine-tuned approach.

“They were literally jumping for joy — they couldn’t believe it," said Pardi about his students' reaction to the news. "We thought we’d walk away with one award, but now they’re blown away that they got the top prize. It's great. This ranks us as one of the top teams in California."

If the team fares well at the March event, they'll get to go to the final championship in St. Louis, Missouri. So the stakes are high!

From all of us here at Bishop-Wisecarver, a big congratulations to students Zach Crosley, Michael Kintscher, Holly Kraeber, Brittany Kintscher, Joseph Cliscagne and Jacob Olsen for their exceptional work this week! For more details about the upcoming competition, check out www.norcalftc.org.

On Track with Guide Wheels Word Search

#MotionMonday once again! How did you do last Monday? This is our third edition of our weekly puzzle — a great way to get your week rolling. This word search is based on an article that ran in Machine Design magazine several years ago titled "Getting on Track with Guide Wheels." You can download a copy of the write-up on our website here.

[ Download ]
the puzzle to get started, and if you missed last week's, help yourself to a second serving of word search fun by [ downloading ] last week's game. Let us know how you do! And if you need an answer key, just shoot an email over to jenniferw@bwc.com. Have fun!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Our Weekly List of Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 4

It's the end of a month of new beginnings! First, we welcomed 2012 after a nice weeklong break from the office. Then came the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Water Dragon, one that according to the Chinese zodiac, will bring prosperity (and a tendency to overspend). Sounds like a good time! Here's our every-Friday Top 10 tweeps post, which sums up the best banter of the week. If you follow us @BWCnews, you'll probably recognize some of these tweets!

Credit:  RSC Publishing
1. Smart Underpants Share How You're Feeling on Product Design & Development News: It's nanotechnology-meets-sartorial function. Yes, there's an underwear out there that can assess your blood pressure, heart rate and other biological indicators. It uses sensors in the waistband to take measurements and relay that information back to remote doctors. Think it's a gimmick? It could actually help physicians keep an eye on soldiers or astronauts out in the field. Not as off-the-wall as it first sounded, right?

2. Manufacturers Need to Focus on Focus
via Bishop-Wisecarver Daily: How can manufacturers outpace their competitors? Pay attention — close attention — to the information at your fingertips. Don't just try to get a bunch of new customers, recruit ones that need exactly what you have to offer. That requires detailed market research and a study of which customers would bring in the highest profit stream, according to this Industry Week article. Very helpful, very insightful, definitely a good read to start the year out right!

Credit: The Bay Citizen
3. Swarms of Robotic Insects Could Aid Disaster Responses on The Bay Citizen: It sounds terrifying, but these robotic cockroaches could one day save lives. The U.S. Department of Energy said this month that they'll team up with private companies to make mechanical insects that could one day be used in emergency relief situations. Let's hope they don't fall into the wrong hands ...

4. State of the Media 2012 via Vocus: We signed up for a free online webinar about the state of newspapers, magazine and online media this year. We gleaned some interesting tidbits, including how many reporters actually prefer PR folks reach out to them via social media or how the iPad actually boosted magazine subscriptions, flying in the face of what print media pros predicted. Cool to see how print and online can actually complement instead of compete against each other.

5. Linear Guides for Patient Handling Systems on our YouTube channel: We put together an application video this week that shows how our UtiliTrak linear slide helps paramedics effortlessly lift patients into an ambulance. We love seeing our products put to good use!

6. How Many Manufacturing Jobs Can the U.S. Realistically Maintain? on PBS News Hour: As the country's president talks about reviving the economy with manufacturing jobs, it's fair to ask whether that's a reasonable expectation in the face of outsourcing and cheap foreign labor. PBS News Hour dives into the issue on this podcast, which you can listen to here.

7. An Animatronic Baby on YouTube: Did you know they use robotic babies on TV shows and movies? Here's what those robotic props look like before they're fleshed out. Kind of creepy, huh?!

Credit: Associated Press
8. What Does Every Dragon Mother Want? A Dragon Baby on the Wall Street Journal: We keep talking about how this Lunar New Year's the Year of the Dragon, right? Well some parents are taking this to heart, trying to get pregnant before March so they could have a child born in the Year of the Water Dragon, a zodiac sign known for prosperity. Too much? What's your view of the trend?

9. The Business of Building Sustainable Cities on EnvironmentalExpert.com: Post-WWII America migrated en masse to the newly cropped-up suburbs. Today, the trend has flipped in the other direction as more people realize that to live close to work is more sustainable, environmentally and economically. This column here addresses that shift and how by 2050 about 70 percent of the world's population may live in cities.

10. Magnetic Soap Could Life Oil Spill Woes on CnetNews: U.K. scientists announced that they've developed a new soap that uses magnetism to lift debris. Some are saying this could be a viable way to clean up oil spills. That's a pretty powerful breakthrough if that's the case!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Mentoring Month Shout-Out: Stewart Leicester

Stewart Leicester signed up as mentor to his son's high school robotics class four years ago. The kid dropped out, but the dad kept going. He was having too much fun.

"I really enjoyed engineering as a teenager," said the 56-year-old Bay Area resident and self-employed software programmer. "The joy you get from building stuff is hard to impart because a lot of schools don't have auto shop, they don't have the vocational training. I just thought that any way I could introduce kids to that kind of a thing would be worth doing. Then we'd get more kids involved in engineering."

Four years later, the mechatronics mentor still has the time of his life coaching San Ramon's California High School robotics and engineering students. In recognition of National Mentoring Month, we'd like to highlight Stewart's volunteer work. As a sponsor of Bay Area high school teams each year participating in FIRST, we regularly touch base with  mentors like Stewart. Their dedication inspires us — their excitement is contagious.

"It's true that if you have a passion for something, you find time to do it," he said. "I just want to help these kids discover that engineering is fun. They don't know that until you show them."

President Barack Obama declared January this year National Mentoring Month, a tradition he struck up in 2009 to encourage the nation to foster positive relationships with our youth. Mentoring is vital, agrees Bishop-Wisecarver founder Bud Wisecarver, especially since U.S. schools rank so poorly academically.

"That just underscores how important it is to have one-on-one time with students," Bud said. "I've been involved in local schools helping out where I can since 1957 when I first started volunteering for an ROP class."

Stewart said he feels lucky to have figured out his own passion for engineering at such a young age. By the time he enrolled in college at Washington State University, he knew he'd major in electrical engineering. After college, his career veered into different types of software design, a profession he still he continues to practice today.

The volunteer work also gives the Seattle native a chance to keep a foot in the door. Plus, he says he really believes in the program. It's an excellent way to give students a sense of what it's like to have a real engineering job.

"The FRC large robot competition is probably the best introduction to real world engineering, mostly because of the deadlines," he said. "But also, there's the teamwork, the pressure, the prototypes."

A robotics class teaches a lot, but kids miss out on that sense of urgency felt during a FIRST contest, much like a real on-the-job, deadline-driven engineering project.

"That's one of the more enjoyable aspects, is knowing that what they learn here can be applied to their career down the road," Stewart said.

But mentorship is a two-way street, he added. For every lesson he imparts to the students, Stewart said he comes away with an epiphany of his own.

"It's interesting to see the way these kids think," he said. "One thing about experience is that you get used to routine and think less and less outside the box, because you think you know. I've gone into something thinking I know what to do and these kids challenge me, they come up with a solution I'd never imagine. It's great."

Mentoring keeps you on your toes, Leicester said. For that, too, he's grateful.

"I would encourage other people to get involved in promoting technology to kids," he said. "They're at a point in their lives where they don't know what they're missing out on. They need someone to show them how cool it is to design and build robots, something hands-on like this ... it's really an artistic outlet."

For more about how to become a mentor, go to [ NationalMentoringMonth.org ] — become someone's inspiration! For more info about mentoring for FIRST, check out [ www.first.org ]

Monday, January 23, 2012

Espresso Chat: Filling and Sealing Milk Bottles

In an age of information overload, sometimes you just want a quick jolt of just-the-basics. That's why we started this "Espresso Chat" blog series — a quick 200-words-or-less article that touches on a little bit of everything from products and technologies to industry news. Today, we bring you a shot-sized application story about our [ PRT2 ] precision ring and track solutions.

PROBLEM: How do you fill and cap milk bottles quickly for long hours under varied load conditions? This customer processes milk bottles every hour of the day except for short breaks to clean the track system, and the team needed a curvilinear motion setup that could run at high speeds and withstand corrosion. Less downtime, more up-time.

SOLUTION: PRT2 by HepcoMotion exclusively from Bishop-Wisecarver proved to be a perfect fit — after customization, you can "fit and forget" because the product keeps neat and tidy using its self-cleaning vee-groove linear guide wheels. This curvilinear track fills and seals 12,000 quarter-liter to two-liter bottles an hour. That's thirty linked carriages shuffling bottles at a rate of 1.4 meters a second with 5-meter-per-second acceleration around curves. The track is 1,800mm long with a curve diameter of 318mm, and because it's stainless steel, the motion system holds up well in a food processing environment like this one.

MAKE IT A DOUBLE: Check out this video we created of a robotic gaming chair that uses a ring and track system to swivel and rotate a seat in sync with the player's game — super cool!

Frequently Asked Questions About DualVee Guide Wheels

Happy #MotionMonday, all! You ready for the work week? How about prepping for the day by doing this word search. You'll become an expert on all things DualVee linear guide wheels once you're done. Just read our FAQ page to study up, because we've answered some of your most popular questions!

[ Download ] the crossword puzzle. If you missed last week's edition, [ download it now ] to try your hand at our guide wheel-themed crossword puzzle. How fast can you solve it? Dun, dunn, dunnn! Need an answer key? Email jenniferw@bwc.com!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Our Weekly List of Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 3

Twitter exploded with strong opinions, arguments and protests over a proposed anti-piracy law that could potentially censor the internet. We followed the conversation all week, tweeting about it, linking to interesting news articles and discussions about SOPA — the Stop Online Piracy Act. But that's not all that caught our eye during the hubbub of this week's heated national discourse. Every Friday we give some of those re-tweetable Twitter gems a second go in the spotlight, and we've summed up the best for you right here. Enjoy! And talk to us this week @BWCnews.

Credit: Made in USA News
1. Dismantling Detroit on the Bishop-Wisecarver Daily: Two filmmakers head to the falling-apart birthplace of America's middle class to talk to the scrappers, people dismantling the once-industrial hub. The recession-bludgeoned City of Detroit is often considered a bellwether for where the rest of the country is headed, which piqued the movie-makers' interest in the place. This short film will precede a feature-length op-documentary titled Detropia that's set to release in the next year or so. Riveting.

2. Fossil Hermit Crab Named After Michael Jackson on PhysOrg.com: Science gave homage to the King of Pop this week by naming a newly discovered prehistoric species of hermit crab Mesoparapylocheles Michaeljacksoni. The team of paleontologists saw news of Jackson's death later that same day they made their discovery, according to an article just published in a German scientific journal. Click through to read the rest of the article — it's a pretty cool discovery, with or without the entertaining name!

3. Three Generations of NASA Mars Rovers on NASA.gov: Check out this snapshot of the entire lineage of NASA-made Martian explorers. It's like a robot family photo!

4. Bishop-Wisecarver Gets Listed in the Novus Buyer's Guide: We're excited to become part of this free online database, the "Who's Who of Green Technology Companies". So much so that we had to share the link with you on our blog here. Yet one more way to find us out there in cyberspace!

Credit: Google
5. Is Google Getting Too Personal? on PD&D Design Daily: We're excited to be a new G+ member and we're still navigating the new network to gain followers and learn its ins and outs. But this commentator has a point for all who use it as a personal profile — is it a little unsettling that Google taps into its G+ profiles to customize search results and rework those rankings per individual user? What are your thoughts?

6. The New Rules of Marketing — Hire a Journalist on CMSwire.com: We knew this one already, as evidenced by the fact that most of the BWC marketing department is made up of former newspaper reporters. It makes sense, though, since good marketing involves content creation, research and personal brand to promote the larger one.

7. Cash Prizes for Young Inventors on USfirst.org: We're always plugging the FIRST Robotics program because we're proud to be Diamond Sponsors and we believe in the organization's mission so strongly. We geeked out learning that the science education nonprofit will offer young engineers some generous cash gifts and a shot at patenting their invention. It's called the FIRST Future Innovator Award, and you should click through the link for more details about how you or someone you know can sign up!

Credit: Fox News
8. The Difference Between Weird and Eccentric? Wealth on 1x57.com: Cisco co-founder Sandy Lerner was interviewed as part of a documentary about start-up culture in the U.S. called Something Ventured. Check out this video clip that features part of the film where Fox interviews Lerner as she talks about being fired by her own company. The highlight is her response to a question of whether she considers herself eccentric. "I am, now that I'm rich," she quipped. "I used to just be weird."

9. Bringing Jobs Home — How Do We Get There? on Manufacturing.net: It's been the topic of conversation in the industry all last year and the discussion will continue to make headlines in 2012, we're sure. Here's a column on the subject that caught our eye.

Credit: Wired Mag
10. Confessions of a Celebrity Ghost Tweeter on WiredMag.com: Some A-listers prefer to tweet themselves, others hire marketing teams to project the celebrity brand to their fans. Ghost tweeting isn't relegated just to the entertainment industry, though. Lots of businesses hire marketers to take over the micro-blogging duties for them. Wired Magazine put out this interesting Q&A with a professional tweeter, who we found pretty insightful. In it, she compares tweeting for a client to acting, because she has to learn their lingo and take on their unique voice. It's not exactly what we do in the industrial B2B space ... and at BWC, we keep the voices unique. In fact, we often tag our tweets with the author's initials. And the company prez? She has a handle all her own: @Peekan. Another good tweep to follow!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff 2012 — A Night to Remember

We live in a culture obsessed with Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes. Superbowl winners get invited by our nation's president to the White House every year, and career baseball players or football stars score astronomical multimillion dollar contracts.

But there's a movement in our nation that's shifting our focus to science, technology, engineering and math — all of which is just as exciting! It's a movement propelled by [ FIRST ] — a global robotics Olympics of sorts, where the competition is fierce, the journey is nationally televised and the outcome can be a young person's fascination with science and technology turned pro.

Earlier this month, we attended the 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff in New Hampshire with hundreds of others also excited about robotics — the 21st annual event since inventor Dean Kamen founded the organization in 1989. The two-day launch started with a tour of Kamen's sprawling home, which feels more like a museum of human ingenuity. In fact, the entire structure was designed around an old steam engine once owned by Henry Ford.

The event felt personal, because it is personal to Kamen. Hosting the reception in his home, sharing his personal space with FIRST sponsors and students was a memorable experience for everyone involved. That evening Kamen told everyone that FIRST is much bigger than competing robots.

"My metric for FIRST isn't about which robot won," said Kamen during the Friday night reception. "It's whether we can continue to bring together all the desparate pieces of this very free culture where people, particularly kids are free to do whatever they want with their time. Sadly, most kids have all that freedom but not a lot of judgement, and it's easy to distract them in a culture that has lots of distractions."

FIRST, he said, is like a beacon, a guide — and it's becoming a part of pop culture.

"But I will measure FIRST and our success by whether we continue to bring presidents, government organizations, industries, retailers, media and the arts together to celebrate something that is really important. I know these days everybody talks about 'oh it's good because there will be jobs' and 'it's good because of STEM' but you know, I don't think any great innovator, any great technologist I met in my own life or I read about whether it's Wilbur Orville or Thomas Edison, or back in his day, Galileo, I don't think any of these people got up in the morning trying to do something big, something really innovative because they wanted a job. I think you don't have to worry."

The point is much broader than employment, he continued. It's about personal curiosity for life.

"Those people that are in that for this reason, trust me, if we create a generation of passionate, smart, well-educated, informed kids willing to take reasonable risks, educated risks, as they try new things. If we create a passionate generation that understands the power of technology and how to apply it, trust me, they'll have jobs. That's a consequence of what they'll have. If FIRST succeeds, maybe what we will have a a rebirth of society that believes that the future can be, I think it has to be, better than the past."

We couldn't have said this better ourselves. Kamen's passion is infectious. His words inspiring. Hearing political satirist Stephen Colbert, Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am and MIT Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering Woodie Flowers speak on behalf of FIRST was also powerful.

They all underscored the importance of science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM. How do we encourage future generations to value these things, like innovation and problem-solving just as much as entertainment? Flowers said the power to change the world lies in all of us. We just have to tap into our own imaginations.

"Creativity is not a thunderbolt coming out of the sky, it is something that we all have," he said in a video where he broke down the FIRST challenge.

In this spirit, we are sponsoring a few California high school teams this year in both FTC and FRC challenges, and we look forward to the national championship in April. Stay tuned as we follow along with FIRST, the mentors involved and the students it's all focused around. More to come!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Selecting and Sizing Linear Guide Wheels Crossword

Hello readers, and happy Monday! We'd like to start this week off with something new, so here goes. If you follow us on Twitter, you might have noticed we have this #MotionMonday hashtag trend that calls attention to linear and rotary motion technologies, but we'd like to expand on that theme by bringing it here to our blog. Here is the inaugural edition of our Motion Monday wake-up-your-brain weekly post, folks, and this week it's a crossword puzzle based on the data sheet "Best Practices for Selecting and Sizing Guide Wheels" — we'll switch it up in the future with fun quizzes, word searches and other entertaining posts. We'll even award prizes here and there!

[ Download ] the crossword puzzle. Need an answer key? Email jenniferw@bwc.com!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Our Weekly List of Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 2

What a week! We started our week off this past weekend on the East Coast for the national kickoff of the FIRST Robotics Competition. Good times! We got to spend it touring the home of a famous inventor and got all jazzed up seeing how excited everyone was about the whole thing. We'll post links and photos of our visit here, just in case you missed all the buzz over the weekend. Next time, be sure to follow the excitement as it unfolds in our Twitter timeline @BWCnews. Happy tweeting!

1. Mobile Apps Break Into Manufacturing on the Bishop-Wisecarver Daily: While more of the consumer market uses mobile apps for games and other entertainment, the manufacturing world has started adopting them for more practical uses. This Industry Week article says sales reps for various manufacturing companies have started to use them more as research tools and to have product databases at their fingertips. Pretty cool — and definitely more useful than a game of Angry Birds!

2. Where Will Falling Spacecraft Land? on BBC News: After a half-century of flinging satellite, rockets and other man-made gadgets into space, there's a lot of junk orbiting our planet. Recently, Russia launched a spacecraft of their own, but a malfunction sent it hurtling back. It's expected to land in the Indian Ocean, but we can't be sure where it'll end up. Oh the suspense ... heads up everyone!

3. The Past and Future of American Manufacturing on NPR: Is American manufacturing dead? This podcast takes a look at the issue and concludes that it's far from kicking the bucket. In fact, the value of U.S.-made goods continues to rise. But that increase of value comes at a price, the article says. Though the manufacturing sector is growing, the number of jobs to go with it hasn't kept pace. Interesting podcast, whether or not you agree with its conclusions.

4. The Nine Eyes of Google Street View: It's eerie to think about — that Google's street team has toured the world with its nine-eyed camera and captured billions of images of candid, uncensored if unfocused reality. This photo essay pieces together some of the more human snapshots these indiscriminate shutterbug robots have captured. Thought-provoking and voyeuristic, but a fascinating photo essay nevertheless.

5. The Father of the Internet Talk String Theory, the Physics of Angry Birds and More on VentureBeat.com: Vint Cerf talks about a bunch of different topics in this quick Q&A, including Google's upcoming online science fair, which encourages youngsters to submit their innovative idea to the world — and get rewarded for it. Cerf, who works for Google, says he expects great things from today's young minds, not just elementary science fair-type model volcanoes, but real game-changers in the world of technology.

6. Wrap-Up of Our Visit to the FIRST Kickoff on YouTube: One half of our marketing department jetted off to New Hampshire over the weekend to take a tour of inventor Dean Kamen's house and celebrate the kickoff festivities of the FIRST Robotics Competition season. Since we're sponsors of FIRST, including both FTC and FRC high school team sponsorships, we're super excited to see this play out. Especially since it gets kids excited about science, math, engineering and technology. Woohoo!

7. Timeline of BWC's FIRST Kickoff Visit on Storify.com: OK, another FIRST post! But seriously, it was kind of a big deal, you know? And this links you to a nice Twitter timeline of our visit there, from the tour of Dean Kamen's fabulous museum-like house to the ceremony where Stephen Colbert and Will.i.am spoke via satellite to a group of super-excited science supporters. We feel so so honored to have been a part!

8. Chinese Build a 30-Story Hotel in 15 Days on YouTube: We did a double-take at this one — little more than two weeks to finish a skyscraper? Uh, we'd have to see it to believe it. Well, this video let's you see just that: The Chinese seriously did build a big hotel in a day over a fortnight. Really cool timelapse video — definitely worth checking out.

9. Keep it Simple, Stupid "KISS" Among Engineers' Top 2012 Concerns on DesignNews.com: Some engineers are talking about how over-complicated standards "are the root of all design evils." An excerpt: "Rich Merritt, a public relations professional who works with automation vendors, agrees that we've forgotten the KISS principle. 'We've made everything so complicated, complex, and convoluted that we've entered the age of 'transoptimal engineering,' he says. 'That is, things are so advanced and have so many features, they don't work anymore.'"

10. Private Companies Hoarding Data on U.S. Drivers on California Watch: Yipes! Regardless what your political views are, it's kind of unsettling to think that all our data can be collected in one place, especially by a private company. This article details how collecting car license plate info makes it easier on law enforcement, but what protections are in place to protect our privacy? Some are calling it an example of how technology may be outpacing our own ability to regulate it. Your thoughts?

Espresso Chat: Using Rotary Motion to Study Human Movement

In an age of info overload, sometimes all you need is a quick jolt of facts, not a forever-long white paper or data sheet. That's the idea behind our new feature: Espresso Chats. We'll pick a topic, give you a simple rundown and have you on your way, re-energized with new knowledge. Best enjoyed with a dash of curiosity. Enjoy!

Credit: Mikrolar
WALKING THE WALK: What shoe designs can prevent ankle injuries? Why do hurt joints often develop osteoarthritis? And why do diabetics develop tissue ailments? To answer those questions — and to better understand the way our feet work — researchers at a handful of universities are using a rotary hexapod to simulate human gait. Geek out! Setting some of these in motion is our HepcoMotion [ PRT rings ] — a precision ring and track product line.

Learning more about the dynamics of walking can teach us how to treat joint trauma, prevent gradual wear on tear on our ligaments and offer some insight into the origins of joint disease. These robotic devices allow researchers to realistically recreate human gait using a prosthetic limb, sometimes even a cadaver limb. The fast, precise rotary motion solution and six-point linkage system allow the robots to run smooth and steady while copying the movement of different joints. Feels good to know that our products play a part in deepening our understanding of science!

Photo credit: Mikrolar

[ Click here to read more ] about how these rotary hexapods are used to study the musculo- and skeletal health of the human leg. [ And, follow this link ] to read some academic papers based on this biomedical research.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Our Weekly List of Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 1

We rung in the New Year with an explosion of tweets — many of them, we think, that merit another mention. And that, everyone, is why we give you this wrap-up: Because all that's funny and fascinating on Twitter deserves another chance to grab your fleeting attention. It's 2, and this here's the inaugural tweets-of-the-week post of the New Year. Our social media resolution this year? Chat with more of ya'll on Twitter because you're a great crowd! Hit us up @BWCnews to help us accomplish that. Cheers!

1. Lessons From Famous College Dropouts on CNN.com: A lot of folks know that Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed University back in the day to pursue his career, putting him in safe company with other storied innovator who called it quits on college. What does that tell you about the value of by-your-own-bootstraps entrepreneurship? This article says it's proof that we shouldn't overlook natural talent for a lack of official credentials. Of course there's value in higher education, but with prohibitively pricey tuition, maybe it's time to keep more of an open mind about peoples' ability and work ethic instead of dismissing them for missing that gilded certificate. What's your take?

Credit: FIRST
2. It's Time to Kickoff the 2012 FIRST Robotics Challenge! on USFIRST.org: We've been super stoked about this for a while. For several years now we've sponsored a few local high school teams to compete in this national robotics contest. It's a great way to get young people obsessed with science and technology. Plus, it's just fun to watch! FIRST founder Dean Kamen — who's also a renowned inventor and science/tech celebrity — penned a wonderful piece for the HuffPo on on the FIRST program and why he's so passionate about making this a mainstream spectacle. We'll blog more about our trip in the coming week, so stay posted!

3. Top 10 Craziest Things Caught at Airport Security on Jalopnik.com: Snakes on a plane?! No, we're not talking about that off-the-wall Samuel L. Jackson movie with the literal title that came out a few years ago, this is a real-life inventory of some of the more insane things people tried to pass through airport security. The other finds: Ninja knives, grenades, a cell phone stun gun and a fake $10 million gold ingot. So yeah, there's that for today's edition of "What Were They Thinking?"

4. Is Your Baby Ugly? on PamelaKan.blogspot.com: Gasp! Never! BWC President blogged this week about stepping back and looking at your company's website with a critical eye. You may think it's pretty enticing, but it could be that your home page lacks the gravity to pull in your customers. It's your baby and it may take an objective observer to give you a few pointers on how to spruce it up. That said, what do you think of the new banner design we rolled out this week on our own beautiful baby? [ Check it out here ]

Credit: ChinaSmack.com
5. 16 Modern China Engineering Feats and Industrial Achievements on ChinaSmack.com: We think of the U.S. as the land of "bigger is better," but from the looks of these photos, China's got a similar zeitgeist. Take a look at the pic of that 70-story-tall ferris wheel for a case in point. Incredible!

6. The Year in Manufacturing, Part II  on YorkSaw.com: We mentioned the first part of this series in a previous blog, so we'll follow up by plugging the sequel. It's basically a curated timeline of manufacturing and other industry news authored by a Pennsylvania-based saw and knife manufacturer. Mad props to York Saw and Knife for churning out quality original blog content! It's important in an age of RTs and copycats to actually generate content and add to the conversation. Social media done right!

7. What Manufacturers Expect in 2012 on the Bishop-Wisecarver Daily: The industry saw steady growth in 2011, a trend industry experts expect will continue in the New Year, according to this Thomas Net article. In fact, a lot of analysts say manufacturing growth should outpace the overall economic recovery in the U.S. and probably the world. Good to hear, and goes to show that industries that actually create goods actually drive the economy. Good stuff!

8. The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives on Forbes.com: Sometimes we learn what to do by taking the mistakes of others as a cautionary tale. This column takes that approach, spotlighting the failures of some high-profile execs to pinpoint how they slipped up and how you can avoid the same pitfalls. Some excellent points here!

9. Interview With an Animal Glue Salesman on lddavis.com: After we posted a quick Q&A with one of our sales reps earlier in the week, our Twitter buddy @lddavisadhesive alerted us to this fun one of their own. We got a good chuckle out of it (read it to see why) and thought we'd share because, as we mentioned earlier in this post, it's cool to see other manufacturers embrace social media and content generation. Keep it up!

10. 31 Ways to Get Smarter in the New Year on The Daily Beast: In the spirit of turning over a new leaf, here's a nice sum of suggestions for self-improvement in 2012. What are some of your resolutions?

From all of us here at Bishop-Wisecarver, here's wishing you a HAPPY 2012, everyone!
Credit: TravelProducts.com

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Q&A with David Ray, Regional Sales Manager

Get to know Bishop-Wisecarver's Regional Sales Manager, David Ray!

David works hands on with our sales reps located in the West Coast region of the United States, a chunk of the country that spans from California to Colorado to Alaska and Hawaii. He recently took time from his busy schedule to share a little about himself. To reach him directly about all things linear motion, zap him a note via davidr@bwc.com.

Question: Tell us a about your background, your education, how long you’ve been with Bishop-Wisecarver and what you like most about being on the BWC team.
Answer: I joined Bishop-Wisecarver in 2007. I have spent most of my career in mechanical and electrical motion control.  I have an MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in Marketing from Bowling Green State University.  I like the BWC team for its family atmosphere, the overall group effort and the management’s forward-thinking mindset.

Question: What do you like about sales?
Answer: Every day brings new challenges — never the same thing. Also, I like going for the “win."

Question: What do you enjoy most about working with engineers?
Answer: I learn something new all the time because each engineer has a different expertise.  It’s always fascinating to learn their thought process and how they go about finding a solution.

Question: What challenges arise from selling a product based on features and benefits?
Answer: It’s not about price, it’s about value.  Sell your product based on its quality, longevity, consistency and benefits to the customer.  The overall value truly matters.

Question: What makes for a good selling relationship with a customer?
Answer: We are both in this together.  A good relationship is about understanding their company, their thought process and their goals.  Helping the customer get where they need to be is how you become a good team player.

Question: If sales were a team sport, what would it be and why?
Answer: I'd say basketball.  For sales to be successful, we must all work together to score.

Question: Speaking of sports, what’s your favorite team or teams?
Answer: Football? San Francisco 49ers. Basketball? LA Lakers. Baseball? LA Angels

Question: What do you like to do outside work?
Answer: Play guitar and piano, bike and hike, and chase after our 16-year-old son.

Question: What’s your favorite coffee beverage? Cream, no cream, sugar, no sugar?
Answer: Black — the only way to drink coffee.

Question: Favorite quote?
Answer: My favorite quote is... “All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

Check back soon for our next Q&A session! From engineers to sales representatives, our skilled team of experts have you covered for all things related to linear guides, slides and rotary motion systems. View our other questionnaires!