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21
Questions, answers, ideas / Heroes, The Spirit of Engineering: Ulysses Cephas
« Last post by Geo. on August 19, 2016, 09:20:32 AM »
The Spirit of Engineering: Ulysses Cephas
Thu, 08/18/2016 - 3:53pm by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos

Some years ago, probably in the late 1940s—the news clipping has no date on it—an 18-year-old woman attending what was then called  Southwest Texas State Teachers' College in San Marcos was seriously injured in an automobile accident, suffering a broken pelvis. She was taken to a hospital, but became despondent, and her attending doctor decided she should spend her long recovery at home in Hico, 150 miles away. But the jarring of a long road trip might cause further injuries.  Some sort of rigid custom-made frame to hold her bones in place was needed, but where could such a thing be found?

The photo accompanying the article shows the solution:  a sort of cage made of three or four steel straps attached to a stretcher. The article gives the names of the young woman and the doctor, but identifies the craftsman who designed and fabricated the frame only as "the village blacksmith." Thus encased, she was able to be transported safely to Hico, thanks to the village blacksmith. Probably everyone who read the article in the San Marcos local paper knew who the village blacksmith was. He lived in a house he built himself, worked in a shop he owned, and had the skills to construct a custom medical device that today would cost many thousands of dollars to make. Why, then, was the newspaper so reticent about giving his name?  We can only speculate at this point, but I can think of one good reason. Ulysses Cephas was black.

Mr. Cephas was born in San Marcos in 1884 to Joe and Elizabeth Cephas, both former slaves.  Joe was a blacksmith, and Ulysses followed in his father's footsteps. Around 1909, Ulysses had acquired enough skills to obtain a certificate in Artistic Horseshoeing, and that was the extent of his formal education. He married and built a small, sturdy house in the black section of San Marcos. San Marcos, along with the rest of Texas back then, was a segregated society. Blacks could live only in the black section of town. Blacks could sit only in the black section of movie theaters, if the theater happened to have such a section. It was a common sight to see hotels, restrooms, and even water fountains labeled with signs such as "For Whites Only" or the less direct but just as effective "We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone."

Mr. Cephas, if he did not embrace these restrictions, at any rate lived within them. He, along with the rest of the black community, endured the rise of the white-supremacist Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. After some Klan doings that were so bad they drew the attention of the local law authorities, the police asked Mr. Cephas if he could identify certain horseshoe prints left at the scene. Mr. Cephas was able to connect the prints with one of his own customers, which led to an arrest of the culprit. Even the Klan came to "Boots" Cephas for horseshoes.

By 1933, Mr. Cephas had saved enough to buy the blacksmith shop he worked in, while supporting his five children. As if that wasn't enough, he became active in the First Missionary Baptist Church and helped found the San Marcos Independent Band. But he kept busy working in his shop, as pages from his account book from 1944 attest. They include things like repairing wagon wheels, drilling holes in iron plates, welding a battery box for the local phone company, and renovating pieces of farm equipment for local farmers. By that time, his shop was what we would term today a general metal fabrication facility, and his reputation for being able to deal with almost any problem was what led the young woman's doctor to him when the special frame was needed.

There is a photo of Mr. Cephas at work:  a sturdy, overalls-clad man caught in the midst of swinging a heavy hammer—an engineer's hammer, is the technical term. Along with the photo, another news article quotes him as saying that when he passes from the scene, there won't be anyone to replace him. Young people these days aren't interested in the hot, heavy work of blacksmithing, he says. This was well before air conditioning was installed in most small-town businesses, let alone residences or blacksmith shops.

Mr. Cephas died in 1952, with $10,000 in the bank, rental property in hand, and owing only a keg of nails. His house stood vacant for years until the City of San Marcos, prompted by those interested in black history, used federal funds to renovate it and turn it into a multi-use space for things like art classes, which is how I found out about the house and Mr. Cephas's story—my wife was attending an art class that I visited last Friday. Artifacts from his life and work are on display there, and the house itself is a testimony to the skill he brought to his work—the original door and doorknob from the 1920s are still in use.

Ethical exemplars are people whose professional conduct goes beyond the call of duty to the point where they can be held up as examples of how to do it right. Mr. Cephas's skin color and birth date barred him from any realistic hopes of gaining an engineering education. Most of the few colleges open to blacks back then had no engineering schools, and even if they had, the need for tuition money was an obstacle that few black students could overcome.
So he took his certificate in artistic horseshoeing and taught himself everything else he needed to know to serve the community of his birth, even when it turned on him viciously as the KKK did. His unique skills allowed him to be prosperous in a modest way, and he gave back in terms of service to his church and to the citizens at large who enjoyed the music he and his friends played at special events. In his life of integrity and service, he showed how a professional—one with specialized knowledge—can use this knowledge responsibly to make the world a better place.

 That is what engineering should be all about, and though he lacked the usual academic credentials, I salute Ulysses Cephas as one who embodied in his life and work the true spirit of engineering.

Sources:  There is a historical marker in front of Mr. Cephas' former home, and a photograph thereof can be seen at http://smmercury.com/tag/ulysses-cephas/.  I also used information from news articles at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/san-marcos-seeks-to-rent-cephas-house-for-commun-1/nRfFM/ and http://www.austinchronicle.com/arts/2003-06-20/164554/.  Some of the information in the above post is from my memory of artifacts, and may be slightly inaccurate in a few details.
This blog originally appeared on Engineering Ethics.
22
Questions, answers, ideas / Single-phase electric power
« Last post by Geo. on August 19, 2016, 07:46:07 AM »
Single-phase electric power
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In electrical engineering, single-phase electric power refers to the distribution of alternating current electric power using a system in which all the voltages of the supply vary in unison. Single-phase distribution is used when loads are mostly lighting and heating, with few large electric motors. A single-phase supply connected to an alternating current electric motor does not produce a revolving magnetic field; single-phase motors need additional circuits for starting, and such motors are uncommon above 10 or 20 kW in rating.

In contrast, in a three-phase system, the currents in each conductor reach their peak instantaneous values sequentially, not simultaneously; in each cycle of the power frequency, first one, then the second, then the third current reaches its maximum value. The waveforms of the three supply conductors are offset from one another in time (delayed in phase) by one-third of their period. When the three phases are connected to windings around the interior of a motor stator, they produce a revolving magnetic field; such motors are self-starting.
Standard frequencies of single-phase power systems are either 50 or 60 Hz. Special single-phase traction power networks may operate at 16.67 Hz or other frequencies to power electric railways.

In some countries such as the United States, single phase is commonly divided in half to create split-phase electric power for household appliances and lighting.

Splitting out
No arrangement of transformers can convert a single-phase load into a balanced load on a poly-phase system. A single-phase load may be powered from a three-phase distribution system either by connection between a phase and neutral or by connecting the load between two phases. The load device must be designed for the voltage in each case. The neutral point in a three phase system exists at the mathematical center of an equilateral triangle formed by the three phase points, and the phase-to-phase voltage is accordingly ã3 times the phase-to-neutral voltage. For example, in places using a 415 volt 3 phase system, the phase-to-neutral voltage is 240 volts, allowing single-phase lighting to be connected phase-to-neutral and three-phase motors to be connected to all three phases.

In North America, a typical three-phase system will have 208 volts between the phases and 120 volts between phase and neutral. If heating equipment designed for the 240-volt three-wire single phase system is connected to two phases of a 208 volt supply, it will only produce 75% of its rated heating effect. Single-phase motors may have taps to allow their use on either 208 V or 240 V supplies.

On higher voltage systems (on the order of kilovolts) where a single phase transformer is in use to supply a low voltage system, the method of splitting varies. In North American utility distribution practice, the primary of the step-down transformer is wired across a single high voltage feed wire and neutral, at least for smaller supplies (see photo of transformer on right). Rural distribution may be a single phase at a medium voltage; in some areas single wire earth return distribution is used when customers are very far apart. In Britain the step-down primary is wired phase-phase.

Applications
Single-phase power distribution is widely used especially in rural areas, where the cost of a three-phase distribution network is high and motor loads are small and uncommon.
High power systems, say, hundreds of KVA or larger, are nearly always three phase. The largest supply normally available as single phase varies according to the standards of the electrical utility. In the UK a single-phase household supply may be rated 100 A or even 125 A, meaning that there is little need for 3 phase in a domestic or small commercial environment. Much of the rest of Europe has traditionally had much smaller limits on the size of single phase supplies resulting in even houses being supplied with 3 phase (in urban areas with three-phase supply networks).

In North America, individual residences and small commercial buildings with services up to about 100 kVA (417 amperes at 240 volts) will usually have three-wire single-phase distribution, often with only one customer per distribution transformer. In exceptional cases larger single-phase three-wire services can be provided, usually only in remote areas where poly-phase distribution is not available. In rural areas farmers who wish to use three-phase motors may install a phase converter if only a single-phase supply is available. Larger consumers such as large buildings, shopping centers, factories, office blocks, and multiple-unit apartment blocks will have three-phase service. In densely populated areas of cities, network power distribution is used with many customers and many supply transformers connected to provide hundreds or thousands of kVA, a load concentrated over a few hundred square meters.

Three-wire single-phase systems are rarely used in the UK where large loads are needed off only two high voltage phases.
Single-phase power may be used for electric railways; the largest single-phase generator in the world, at Neckarwestheim Nuclear Power Plant, supplied a railway system on a dedicated traction power network.

Grounding
Typically a third conductor, called ground (or "safety ground") (U.S.) or protective earth (UK, Europe, IEC), is used as a protection against electric shock, and ordinarily only carries significant current when there is a circuit fault. Several different earthing systems are in use.

23
I know we have a hard time finding trained employees, thats why we started an apprentice program 
24
New Study Says US Manufacturing 'Skills Gap' Largely Doesn't Exist

by Andy Szal

A newly released analysis suggests that the gap between open U.S. manufacturing jobs and the skilled workers needed to fill them is overblown.
The first-of-its-kind study, conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sought to measure the skills that manufacturers seek as well as organizational characteristics and hiring outcomes.
Although industry observers routinely express concern about a growing skills gap, the paper instead characterized demand for higher-level skills in those jobs as "generally modest."

The paper found that jobs requiring higher-level math skills — and, perhaps surprisingly, reading skills — often translated to longer vacancy periods, but that other skills, including those relating to computers, critical thinking or problem solving, did not.

Illinois employment relations professor and co-author Andrew Weaver suggested that the skills gap debate was largely framed by "trade associations and consulting firms" whose surveys attributed 60 to 70 percent of job vacancies to a lack of qualified applicants.

The paper, published in the journal ILR Review, pegged that number at "16 to 25 percent."
“The claims and the data sets that are out there often don’t involve the direct measurement of skills, so people are looking at vacancy rates across the entire economy or all manufacturers,” Weaver said. “There’s very little data in which people go in at the plant level and measure what skills U.S. workers need to have.”

He added that the problem with long-term manufacturing vacancies likely was not the labor force, but instead a disconnect between companies, workers and the training entities needed to harmonize them — namely, community colleges and trade associations.
The paper also that found vacancies particularly plagued manufacturing clusters, which tended to develop sophisticated, niche labor markets without the resources needed to train new employees.

"You would think it would be the manufacturing plant that’s off by itself in the middle of nowhere that doesn’t have access to a pool of skilled labor — but it didn’t turn out that way," Weaver said.

Comments:

•   When I think of "skilled labor", I think welders, CNC machinists, PLC programmers, CAD drafters, etc. I'd say manufacturers aren't accessing their math, reading, or computer skills. Manufacturers are interested in trade skills. These are solely lacking. I blame the stigma attached to non-4-year-college occupations.

I know we have a hard time finding welders that can pass a pre-employment drug test.

Or a ploy for more H-1B Visas. Imported cheap captive labor, what better way to increase profits. Disney anyone??

Pity me. I am a know-it-all and articles like this are not good for my creds.
25
New Study Says US Manufacturing 'Skills Gap' Largely Doesn't Exist

by Andy Szal

A newly released analysis suggests that the gap between open U.S. manufacturing jobs and the skilled workers needed to fill them is overblown.
The first-of-its-kind study, conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sought to measure the skills that manufacturers seek as well as organizational characteristics and hiring outcomes.
Although industry observers routinely express concern about a growing skills gap, the paper instead characterized demand for higher-level skills in those jobs as "generally modest."

The paper found that jobs requiring higher-level math skills — and, perhaps surprisingly, reading skills — often translated to longer vacancy periods, but that other skills, including those relating to computers, critical thinking or problem solving, did not.

Illinois employment relations professor and co-author Andrew Weaver suggested that the skills gap debate was largely framed by "trade associations and consulting firms" whose surveys attributed 60 to 70 percent of job vacancies to a lack of qualified applicants.

The paper, published in the journal ILR Review, pegged that number at "16 to 25 percent."
“The claims and the data sets that are out there often don’t involve the direct measurement of skills, so people are looking at vacancy rates across the entire economy or all manufacturers,” Weaver said. “There’s very little data in which people go in at the plant level and measure what skills U.S. workers need to have.”

He added that the problem with long-term manufacturing vacancies likely was not the labor force, but instead a disconnect between companies, workers and the training entities needed to harmonize them — namely, community colleges and trade associations.
The paper also that found vacancies particularly plagued manufacturing clusters, which tended to develop sophisticated, niche labor markets without the resources needed to train new employees.

"You would think it would be the manufacturing plant that’s off by itself in the middle of nowhere that doesn’t have access to a pool of skilled labor — but it didn’t turn out that way," Weaver said.

Comments:

•   When I think of "skilled labor", I think welders, CNC machinists, PLC programmers, CAD drafters, etc. I'd say manufacturers aren't accessing their math, reading, or computer skills. Manufacturers are interested in trade skills. These are solely lacking. I blame the stigma attached to non-4-year-college occupations.

I know we have a hard time finding welders that can pass a pre-employment drug test.

Or a ploy for more H-1B Visas. Imported cheap captive labor, what better way to increase profits. Disney anyone??
26
Questions, answers, ideas / Precision measurement 101
« Last post by Geo. on July 29, 2016, 01:57:47 PM »
Precision measurement 101
Correct use of measurement tools gives foundation for quality
THE FABRICATOR® MARCH 2009
MARCH 24, 2009
By: Scott Robinson, Mike Baczewski

It's more important than ever for your employees—particularly entry-level personnel—to learn to use measurement tools to their full potential.
 
Measurement tools form the basic foundation of quality at any manufacturer. In the sheet metal world, precision shops need to hold parts to tighter and tighter tolerances. That said, it's more important than ever for your employees—particularly entry-level personnel—to learn to use these tools to their full potential.

Rulers and Tape Measures
Common in sheet metal shops measuring large parts, rulers and tape measures offer straightforward operation. Common versions found at hardware stores may be off significantly: 12 in. isn't likely to be 12 in. A precision steel ruler, however, may be accurate to 0.001 in., depending on the length of the rule (see Figure 1). Longer rulers have larger tolerances.

Tape measures follow the same tolerance guideline, though margins of error are larger. Up to 12 ft., a precision tape measure will be accurate to about ±1⁄32 in.; beyond 12 ft., it's within ±1⁄16 in. Other areas for potential error include the hook at the end, which, if not precisely assembled, can cause inaccurate measurements.

With demand for increasingly tight tolerances, precision sheet metal shops may want to consider calibrated steel rulers. Calibrated with blocks and gauges traceable to a metrology lab (including the national lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology), precision rulers and tape measures can add a degree of confidence when measuring. These devices come with a certificate showing they have been calibrated, along with data showing how far off each inch mark is to the measurement standard.

Micrometers
The most accurate hand-held tool available for skilled operators, micrometers come in various types, including digital, Vernier, inside, bench, and specialized models. For most measurements, you hold the micrometer as shown in Figure 2. The work is placed against the anvil with the left hand while the spindle is turned down to the work with the thumb and index finger of the right hand.

You can adjust micrometers with two steps. First, to eliminate play in the spindle, back off the thimble, insert a spanner wrench (likely furnished with the micrometer) into the adjusting nut, and tighten just enough to eliminate play.

Next, to adjust to a zero reading, clean all dirt or grit from the measuring faces by gently closing the spindle to the anvil with a clean piece of paper between them. Pull the paper out with pressure applied, then close the faces and insert the spanner wrench in the small slot of the sleeve. Next, turn the sleeve until its zero line coincides with the zero line on the thimble.

For best operation:
•   Don't force measurement, as light contact pressure ensures a correct reading.
•   Keep the work to be measured and the micrometer anvil and spindle faces clean.
•   For very fine measurements, the micrometer should be set to zero or to a standard by your "feel" (see sidebar), by the friction thimble, or by the ratchet, whichever is being used.
•   To minimize any frame flexure influence, a large micrometer especially should be set to a standard in the same approximate position, either vertical or horizontal, in which it will be used.
•   Avoid rushing measuring work as this may result in inaccurate results.
•   Do not remove work from a micrometer before taking a reading. If a reading cannot be seen without removing the micrometer, lock the spindle at the final setting with the lock nut and slide the micrometer off the work by the frame.
•   If a micrometer has been set to a flat standard, you may get approximately a 0.0001-in. difference when measuring over a round because the same pressure is being applied to a point or line contact.

Slide Calipers

While not having the same degree of precision as a micrometer, slide calipers offer more measurement range than a single micrometer
Slide calipers include electronic, mechanical, dial, Vernier, and plain versions.
The best digital and dial slide calipers, regardless of resolution, are accurate to within 0.001 in. every 6 in. The best vernier calipers are accurate to 0.0005 in. per foot.

Slide calipers have two knurled thumb pieces on the slide, which make it easy to open or close the jaws, and a knurled clamping screw with a left-hand thread for locking the slide at any desired setting. The thumb on the same hand that holds the tool can be used for both of these adjustments. The slide also has a stop, preventing it from being entirely withdrawn from the body.

Because slide caliper measuring surfaces are not in line with the beam of the caliper, some care should be taken not to use too much measuring pressure. This will lessen the possibility of springing the jaws. A general rule is to use good judgment for setting a minimum measuring pressure, often in the half-pound range.

To check or set the separate ID nibs on a caliper, you can use a micrometer or ring gauge. Individual "feel" is important when measuring an ID because the measuring surfaces are so thin that small pressure changes can affect the reading by as much as 0.001 in. Also, be sure to keep the sliding surfaces clean and lightly oiled.

Micrometer Depth Gauges
A micrometer depth gauge measures the depth of holes, slots, recesses, and other geometries and is available in electronic, mechanical-digital, and standard readouts. The tool consists of a hardened, ground, and lapped base combined with a micrometer head. Measuring rods are inserted through a hole in the micrometer screw and brought to a positive seat by a knurled nut.

The reading is taken exactly the same as with an outside micrometer except that sleeve graduations run in the opposite direction. To obtain a reading using a rod other than the 0- to 1-in. rod, it is necessary to consider the additional rod length. For example, if the 1- to 2-in. rod is being used, 1 in. must be added to the reading on the sleeve and thimble.

Before using the micrometer depth gauge, be sure that the base and end of the rod and work are wiped clean and that the rod is properly seated in the micrometer head. Hold the base firmly against the work and turn the thimble until the rod contacts the bottom of the slot or recess. Tighten the lock nut and remove the tool from the work to read the measurement.

Getting a Feel for Precision

The sense of touch becomes important when you're using contact measuring tools. A highly skilled worker with a highly developed "feel" can readily detect a difference in contact made by changes in a dimension as small as 0.00025 in. This sensitivity can be developed over time with practice.

The sense of touch is most prominent in the fingertips. Therefore, a contact measuring tool should be balanced properly in the hand and held lightly when handling or moving the tool. If you harshly grasp the tool, you can reduce the sense of touch that is important in precision measuring.

27
Questions, answers, ideas / War of the Currents: AC/DC Power
« Last post by Geo. on July 29, 2016, 10:19:47 AM »
War of the Currents: AC/DC Power
Fri, 07/29/2016 - 10:17am s by Darren Halford, EU Automation
Deeper Insights
 
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates - two of the most well-known figures in modern technology and also, one of the industry’s most infamous rivalries. “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste,” Jobs famously stated in 1996. Despite the snide remarks and occasional lawsuits, both Jobs and Gates realized there was room on the IT market for both companies to coexist. The same however, cannot be said for George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison. Arguably two of the brightest minds in science, the pair engaged in a decade-long vendetta over alternating (AC) and direct (DC) electrical currents.

More than a century later, Darren Halford, sales manager of industrial automation supplier EU Automation, discusses the war of the currents and its implication on modern data centers.

Fueled by the fear of losing his fortune, in the late 1880s Edison began a propaganda campaign to convince the public that AC power was deadly – despite DC power being equally as dangerous. In spite of brutal demonstrations, AC came out on top. Now, over a century later, DC power is finally beginning to make a comeback, but this time, on its own merits.

Any device that uses transistors relies on the direct flow of electricity that DC power provides. Accounting for up to 20 percent of the world’s total power consumption, consumer devices such as PCs, smart phones, and televisions rely on DC direct current. To some extent, our growing taste for consumer technology is responsible for the steep growth of DC.

However, the growing popularity of DC power is not limited to user level. With high voltage transmission lines, DC power provides more efficient and lower construction costs than its AC alternative. Currently, AC is the standard for transmitting electricity around the grid and to many industrial devices, like electrical motors. However, as industry struggles to increase efficiency, while maintaining or improving availability, DC power is now seen as an opportunity to save energy. By distributing DC power to DC devices, rather than converting it to AC along the way, companies can avoid substantial energy losses.

Another driver for DC power is the growing number of data centers around the world. Currently consuming 1.3 percent of electricity globally, data centers are growing in size and capacity. Data center managers are currently converting the incoming AC power from the grid by using large centralized converters to distribute DC power across their facilities. However, by replacing AC/DC converters with more efficient, centralized inverters, energy consumption can be reduced by up to 15 percent.

The benefits of DC power for the data center are clear. Financially, DC power applications are cheaper to install, operate, and maintain than AC alternatives. What’s more, there is no need to adapt capacity to account for phase balancing or harmonics, as they are not a factor with DC power. As data centers enter a new stage of maturity, where reliability and delivering a higher capacity is vital, DC power seems to be the obvious solution to lower costs and reduce power consumption.

Note: it was Tesla not Westinghouse that promoted AC
28
Questions, answers, ideas / 10 rules of Meetings
« Last post by Geo. on July 28, 2016, 02:02:42 PM »
10 rules of Meetings

You've been sitting in the meeting for 93 minutes. It feels like 93 days. It was supposed to last an hour, max, but the Senior VP is in the room, and the point of the session was to discuss his pet project, and no one wants to be the first to crack. Everyone else is busy making gratuitous points designed to flatter Mr. Big. You're entertaining fantasies about throwing a cream pie, or worse, at the blowhard who just won't stop talking about how successful the project will be. You know it's doomed to fail; it's the high-tech equivalent of selling ice to the Inuit.
 
You're asking yourself, who's in charge here? How did all these reasonably well-intentioned people get so far out of whack? And, more to the point, how can this juggernaut be stopped? 

Since mass laryngitis is not an option, you need the 10 Rules of Meetings. Moreover, you need to post them prominently in meeting rooms so that everyone can begin to follow them – especially the leader. Remember that even Moses had trouble with his unruly flock from time to time, so be prepared for the occasional outburst of the modern corporate version of Baal worship.

1    Always Know What Time It Is
The clock is God in meetings. Out of respect for the commitment and sanity of everyone who attends, meetings should never run over the time allotted. Especially regularly scheduled meetings. If the session gets bogged down in an issue, table it for another meeting. If the meeting must conclude by taking an action or decision, then schedule it accordingly. Tell all the participants before the meeting starts that it will go as long as necessary to reach the stated conclusion. Don't mislead people by minimizing the amount of work involved; that kind of trickery will only come back to haunt you.

2   Do Not Forget the Main Reason for Meetings
The only good reason to have meetings is to do something together that you can't do better alone. In business, meetings have three primary purposes: communicating, administering, and deciding. Of these, the first and last are most worthwhile. But the focus of all three kinds of meetings should be action. They should either be communicating the intention to take an action or the results of action that has been taken, administering a plan of action, or deciding among alternative actions. If you find yourself calling meetings – or going to them – that have some other purpose, you're wasting your time. And everyone else's. Find something else to do.

3   Remember the Golden Rule of Meetings: Praise in Public, Criticize in Private
Shut off public criticism when it arises. It's extremely destructive to morale and should be prevented. Indeed, much misery could be avoided in the business world if all members of the corporate community would remember a simple fact: if they are working for the same employer, then they are all on the same team. Corporate politics we will always have with us, but that doesn't mean that we have to accept them tamely. Help your vocally critical teammates by making it clear, in advance of each meeting, who is in charge, how long the meeting will last, and what the point of the meeting is. Then deal with attempts to take the meeting in other, more vicious directions as simple misunderstandings of the agreed-upon ground rules. Politely but firmly steer the meeting back to the right terrain.

4    Do Not Convene Meetings Outside of Normal Business Hours
Of course there are times when this Rule must be broken, but they should be reserved for real emergencies. People who schedule meetings for evenings and weekends are merely advertising the embarrassing fact that they have no life - and they're expecting others to give up theirs. That kind of person should not be allowed to run anything, much less part of a modern corporation, because they lack the basic humanity to do a good job. Surviving in the fast-moving, devil-take-the-hindmost business world of today requires good peripheral vision as well as keen understanding of the work involved. Those without the necessary life balance can't possibly understand that world they're in or see around the next business corner.

5    Do Not Use Group Pressure to Logroll Conclusions
It is simply wrong to use meetings to pressure people into agreeing to actions or ideas that they know to be immoral or illegal in order to promote the business of the corporation. Group pressure is a powerful force, especially where jobs are at stake. Don't misuse it to get people to stray from the straight and narrow, or bend the rules, or set the quotas dangerously high, or cut corners on quality, or any one of a thousand such activities that go on every day in misguided organizations everywhere. Your corporation has a set of values. If it doesn't include adherence to a code of ethics and the rule of law, change the values or find values or find somewhere else to work.
6    Do Not Use Meetings to Destroy Others' Careers
There is enough room in every meeting for a disagreement without making it personal or destructive. More than that, it's wrong – and politically unwise. Modern corporate life has become so ephemeral and its denizens so transient that your past is bound to come back and face you again, and sooner rather than later. A petty triumph at someone else's expense at one job may well prove seriously embarrassing at your next job. Resist the temptation. Curiously, the unstable nature of today's workplace has encouraged people to take the opposite attitude. The thinking seems to run, "I'll never see these people again, so why not cut loose?" But the opposite is almost certainly true.

7     Keep the Personal and the Corporate Distinct

There's nothing wrong with having friends at work. But meetings are not for social calls. To be sure, a certain amount of socializing at the beginnings and endings of meetings is part of the grease that keeps the well-oiled corporate machine running smoothly. But the balance should be clearly kept on the side of business. Too much socializing will lead to resentment among the others at the meeting who are not part of the party. More than that, it's inefficient, bad for business, and corrosive for your soul. You need to have a life outside the corporate one. If you find that all your socializing is taking place in business meetings, it's time to change a few things.

8     Remember that the Best Model for Meetings Is Democracy, Not Monarchy
Resist the temptation to railroad your fellow participants into a decision you want. You need to lead by moral persuasion, not by virtue of your title. Brute force is not the appropriate mode for meetings, though jujitsu sometimes is. As a leader, you should always strive to understand the sense of the meeting. If you want to issue edicts, publish them in the media available to you. You don't need a meeting to announce a new course of proceeding that is not up for discussion. And watch out for other participants in the meeting trying to take control. Hijacking a meeting is a cherished corporate game, but a nasty one. It's your job as a leader to prevent that from happening.

9   Always Prepare a Clear Agenda and Circulate It Beforehand
It is more than courtesy – it is good efficient business practice to think hard about the purpose, nature and structure of a meeting before it takes place. These thoughts should be codified in the form of an agenda and circulated to all participants well in advance of the meeting. Time enough, at any rate, for the participants to prepare whatever they need to in the way of reports, plans, proposals, or the like. Far too often, people who call meetings grossly underestimate the amount of preparation required of the participants.

10   To Terminate a Regularly Scheduled Meeting When Its Purpose for Being No Longer Exists
If you can no longer clearly state the reason for having a regular meeting, it's time to kill it. Purposes change, and when the meeting has lost its reason for taking place, be the first one to put an end to it. All periodic meetings should have a stock-taking every few sessions to determine if the meeting still has a purpose. It's just one way to fight corporate bloat and bureaucratic encrustation. Of course, for this discipline to work, you must have decided what the regular meeting was for when it was begun. Goal-setting is just as important in meetings as it is in the rest of corporate life. 

The only meetings that people wish had run longer are those magical ones that take place when lovers first set eyes upon one another. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your business meeting is that thrilling. Keep its timing, purpose, and tone in perspective. Live to meet another day.
29
2 college kids turned school project into a million-dollar eco-friendly business

Turning mushrooms into packing material and furniture might seem like science fiction, but for Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, it's just a typical day at the office.

In 2009, they founded eco-friendly company Ecovative, which produces an alternative to plastics and Styrofoam using mushrooms.
Essentially, they mix agricultural farm waste with mycelium, or mushroom roots. It can be used for industrial applications or softer applications like packaging computers.
 
What started as a college project is now a full-fledged business. It has produced mushroom packaging for companies like Dell and Crate & Barrel, is starting to move into furniture and home goods, and has raised nearly $18 million in equity and debt financing.

But it wasn't always easy. The founders persisted despite false starts and a lack of funding, and they even walked away from good jobs before they finally got the break that would make their big idea a reality.

It all started in 2006, when Bayer and McIntyre were both studying mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. The two teamed up in a class called Inventor's Studio.

They were assigned to find a problem that affects the world, come up with a technical solution to solve that problem, patent it, and start a business.

Simple enough, right?

They pitched multiple projects to their professor over the course of the class to no avail. Finally, they pitched the mushroom idea. "He was like, 'I love it! You have to retake my class and do this project,'" said Bayer.

"We weren't out trying to identify the next cell phone case; we were looking at alternatives to the plastics and resins that really plague our planet," said McIntyre. Mushrooms were the perfect alternative because they fit directly into nature's recycling system.

After the class, and a successful project, both Bayer and McIntyre had plans to get out in the working world as engineers.
"We actually both had jobs and full scholarships to be architects as well," said Bayer, who decided to quit his job on the first day because their professor kept at them to drop what they were doing and pursue their business.

Bayer then called McIntyre and said, "I'm not going to work today. We are starting a business."
They began by "boot strapping" their idea, working out of one of their basements and growing the mushrooms under Bayer's bed. But they soon realized they needed to raise capital.

So they went to investors. However, getting others to understand their concept was a struggle. "Our pitch was: We're going to put mushroom insulation into people's homes," said Bayer. "And it just didn't work."
 
After unsuccessful attempts to get investor backing, in 2008 the Ecovative co-founders decided to enter business competitions. It worked. Their concept won a few contests, including the top prize of $750,000 at the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, and grants from the National Science Foundation.

Their winnings allowed them the seed capital to prove the product out into an application. Within a year, Ecovative had its own prototype facility and started producing for companies like Dell and Crate & Barrel.
"We've seen a tremendous amount of growth in our business from the days where we were growing materials under our beds," said McIntyre.

In 2015 the two opened a full-scale 20,000 square foot manufacturing plant, and this year they launched Ecovative interiors featuring their latest product, MycoBoard, which is used to make wood furniture and wall tiles. The company is reportedly bringing in millions in annual revenue.
 
Bayer and McIntyre shared a couple tips to becoming entrepreneurs and turning a project into a business:

1. Work on an important problem.
 "If you work on an important problem, you can get funded and you can solve it," said Bayer.

2. Get feedback from potential customers.
"The best feedback that you can get is to put it into a potential customer's hand and let them tell you whether or not the product is ready," suggested McIntyre.
 
3. Hire the right people.
It's important to develop the right culture within your company.

30
Questions, answers, ideas / sad day- the end of Enco
« Last post by Geo. on July 25, 2016, 07:43:00 AM »
A sad day
It’s a sad day this August, MSC is closing Enco
Now don’t get me wrong, MSC is a good outlet and I purchase from them regularly
But Enco always seemed to have a easier web site to navigate and better prices
For those that don’t know MSC purchased Enco a couple years ago along with Kenna metal and others
There are less supplier choices now, excluding the web
I purchased a lot of tools and machinery from them they will be missed, 
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