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Bright Minds

February 19, 2006

Filed under: additive manufacturing,education,event — Terry Wohlers @ 12:01

I first wrote about the Bright Minds Mentor Program in May 2004. See the May 1, 2004 commentary titled Bright Minds Mentor Program. The program, now in its third year, has expanded beyond my expectations. Thanks goes to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the many individuals and companies that have supported the program. DaimlerChrysler is this year’s sponsor; Z Corp. and Stratasys sponsored it in 2005 and 2004, respectively.

On May 24, 2006, 48 high school students from the Chicago area will attend SME’s Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing 2006 event as part of the Bright Minds program. Each of them will be matched with professionals from automotive, aerospace, consumer electronics, and other industries. More than 25 professionals have generously agreed to serve as mentors, so most of them will work with two students for the day.

The program’s purpose is to expose students to the latest tools and methods for rapid product development and manufacturing. We hope that this experience excites the students to the point where they choose to pursue a career in product design, engineering, manufacturing, or a related field. It would be difficult to see the newest generation additive technologies and not be interested in their impact, now and in the future. 

I am especially excited about this year’s program. As I read through the applications submitted by each of the students, I could see that we were getting many of the best students from the area. Their writing skills were exceptional. Each of them expressed themselves clearly, descriptively, and powerfully, and with emotion. They really want to be a part of the program and they made an impression. I can only hope that the day helps these bright minds make the right decision about their future. That’s what it’s all about.

Why Lawyers Get Rich

February 6, 2006

Filed under: legal,life,money — Terry Wohlers @ 14:46

This is the title of a short article published in the December 2005 issue of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Let me begin by saying that I have lawyer friends, including one that I count as among my best. I support our legal system in the U.S. and thank God we have it. Also, in no way do I oppose enterprising individuals and companies that create wealth in a legal and ethical fashion. Now, for the facts, according to the article.

Eight-seven percent of U.S. corporations are engaged in some type of litigation. An average company is juggling 37 lawsuits, while corporations with revenues of $1 billion or more are dealing with 147 at any given time. The article goes on to say that these organizations are spending staggering amounts of money and other company resources on business disputes. Many of them are unable to predict the cost of managing them, so spending soars.

I’m not a legal expert, but I do know that litigation is necessary in some cases. One needs to protect investments in intellectual property, the rights written into agreements, and so on. However, people in business are often quick—too quick, in my opinion—to file lawsuits when alternative methods may be effective and far less expensive. For example, I know of an instance where a simple phone call from one CEO to another solved a problem—one that would have otherwise turned into expensive litigation. Lawsuits often result in years of pouring money down a legal drain and the lawyers are grinning from ear to ear all the way to the bank.

Design and manufacturing organizations in the U.S. need good lawyers, but they also need good engineering and manufacturing professionals. A lot has been published recently on the impressive number of engineers that are graduating in China and India, compared to U.S. schools. Many of the best students in these countries are concentrating on engineering, while ours are pursuing careers in law and other areas. Law, medicine, banking, and advertising, as well as many other professions, are all incredibly important to a community, but they do not contribute to the wealth of a nation. Manufacturing creates wealth. Litigation does not, and it can drain the resources of an otherwise prosperous company.