Friday, June 17, 2016

STUDENT CONTEST WINNERS VISIT ROTOR CLIP AND NYC TRADE SHOW

It was our pleasure to host the winners of our recent “Ring-A-Majig” contest at Rotor Clip’s manufacturing facility in Somerset, New Jersey, this past week. James Powell, Joshua Adams, Josh Katsikis and Owais Siddiqui from EastCarolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, were given a tour of Rotor Clip’s manufacturing facility as well as an opportunity to visit the “Design in Engineering” trade show held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, June 14-16, 2016.

They were also taken on a tour of New York City, including a visit to the 9/11 memorial site in lower Manhattan.

The four won the 2016 Rotor Clip “Ring-A-Majig” contest, challenging students pursuing technical courses of study to use retaining rings (non-traditional fasteners) in original product designs. The contest was held in affiliation with ATMAE, the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering.

The winning student team of the Rotor Clip "Ring-A-Majig" contest from East Carolina University display their winning entry at the recent Design Show in NYC: a toy tank held together entirely by retaining rings. They are, from left to right, Josh Adams, James Powell, Josh Katsikis and Owais Siddiqui.

I had the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues with the students during their stay here at Rotor Clip. I was particularly impressed by their optimism and belief the future is looking good for those pursing manufacturing as a career.

Owais Siddiqui noted that his parents originally wanted him to pursue a career in IT. But he countered that “hardware was always exciting for me.” Before you can utilize software, he said “you need hardware.”

James Powell understood the concern about automation and how it eliminates conventional factory jobs. But embracing robotics will, in his view, create the need for more skilled technicians in the future. “We will just be re-directing what is needed as we evolve to a different skill set,” he noted.

Just working for a paycheck is not how Josh Adams regards his career. “I want to feel good about what I’m doing.” He said. He noted breakthrough technologies like 3-D printing bode well for US manufacturing. “Imagine what it (3-D printing) will be like in 10 years,” he said.

TV shows like “How it’s Made” first turned Josh Katsikis on to manufacturing. His studies at East Carolina University have demonstrated to him that “manufacturing is a very viable option as a career.” He also believes that new technologies like robotics “can increase production and create technical jobs that pay well.”

This belief in US manufacturing and the promise it holds for creating meaningful jobs is not just na├»ve optimism. As a recent Wall Street Journal article noted, “Countries that don’t make anything, soon lose their edge.”

Not if these students have anything to say about it.


Joe Cappello is Director of Global Marketing for Rotor Clip Company.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tidal Power: Think "Not So" Big?

There is a general sentiment that in order for alternative energy technology to be taken seriously, it must illustrate the capacity to compete on a large a scale with traditional fossil fuel infrastructure. While that may be an inevitability, the "think-big" perspective has increasingly run up against practical difficulties all over the globe. This was to be expected; after all, it is going to take a long time to match the availability of gas stations off every highway exit. But in the case of tidal power, numerous new projects are demonstrating the feasibility of smaller scale.

WW Turbine's protoype en route to testing before
its use in Vancouver, BC.
In British Columbia, Canada, for example, Water Well Turbine is putting the finishing touches on a $5million prototype projected to generate enough energy for just about 500 homes in a small community. The project has garnered local interest not only by the BC manufacturing and construction industries, but small businesses hamstrung by rising diesel prices as well. Already, Water Well has gotten a pledge from Dent Island Lodge, a nearby
fishing resort company. Water Well claims this one turbine can cut the lodge's electricity price by more than 75%.

Another small-scale project yielding intriguing results is the Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Company. ORPC just recently received the Outstanding Stewards' of America's Waters award for its successful demonstration of its RivGen technology in the small Inuit community of Igiugig, Alaska. The RivGen is a small system that is, according to tidalenergytoday.org
ORPC's RivGen tidal turbines in Alaska.

 "a 25 kW self-deploying submersible hydrokinetic system designed to reduce and stabilize the cost of power in remote communities located near rivers and tidal estuaries that currently use diesel fuel for power generation."
Over the course of two summers, ORPC set up the RivGen in the waters of the Kvichak River and accumulated data of its maintenance, durability, and output. The results were extremely promising: the tidal power source produced a third of electricity needed to sustain the small village of 70 people. Considering the RivGen consists of two turbines 34 feet in width combined, supported by pontoons, the cost-efficiency alone is worth further investment.


While these two projects prove comprehensive efforts to integrate tidal energy into everyday communities are happening, they also prove the lack of consistent funding. In the case of ORPC, the state grants that matched private funds are currently on the chopping block in Alaska's upcoming budget. Furthermore, while WW Turbine's technology will be closely looked at by public utilities, BC Hydro still takes an official position that tidal energy infrastructure is not cost-effective, nor promising enough for mass investment. While that may be accurate on a large scale, the key to addressing it may be to, indeed, think smaller.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.