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Dean Kamen

May 27, 2012

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,education,event — Terry Wohlers @ 09:06

Dean Kamen’s name has come up repeatedly for many years and I have always wanted to meet and hear him speak. Kamen is best known as the inventor of the Segway, an electric, self-balancing vehicle. He has 440 patents to his name and is the head of Deka Research and Development Corp., a company with 400 employees. I got the chance to hear Kamen and later meet him briefly last week in Atlanta, Georgia. He was invited to speak at the EOS North American User Day, which coincided with the RAPID 2012 Conference and Exposition.

Kamen is an inventor and entrepreneur, but he is mostly a relentless advocate of science and technology. He is the founder of the incredibly successful FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), launched in 1989. FIRST competitions involve hundreds of thousands of elementary and secondary students in 21 countries, as well as 100,000+ volunteers that come together to make it possible. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, from The Black Eyed Peas, and many other celebrities have supported FIRST. The CEOs from Time Warner Cable, Xerox, Avon, and Baxter serve on the FIRST board of directors.

The presentation that Kamen gave on Tuesday is difficult to describe. You really needed to be there. He has an incredible passion for ensuring that young people view science and technology with as much or more enthusiasm as professional sports, music, and Hollywood entertainment. His stories and words of inspiration brought tears to many in the room.

My sincere thanks to EOS for bringing Kamen to Atlanta. Kamen’s company is a regular user of EOS laser sintering technology and he showed many interesting examples, which made his presentation even more relevant and meaningful to those in the room.

COFES 2012

May 13, 2012

Filed under: CAD/CAM/CAE,event — Terry Wohlers @ 13:51

The Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES) is like no other event that I’ve attended in my 30 years of travel. Most industry events are filled with back-to-back presenters, but not COFES. Instead, the three-day event includes many casual briefings, open discussions, and informal conversations—all by design. The free exchange that occurs at the event is really quite something. COFES 2012 was April 12–15 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Paradise Valley, Arizona—the venue for the past 13 years.

COFES was the brainchild of long-time friends Brad Holtz of Cyon Research (the organizer of COFES), futurist Dr. Joel Orr, and Evan Yares of WTWH Media. I met Brad in July 1984 when he and Joel attended the First Annual International Forum on Micro-based CAD here in Fort Collins, Colorado. Brad and Joel met on the shuttle bus from the Denver airport to Fort Collins. Joel was our keynote speaker.

About 300 attended COFES 2012 and a significant number were top CAD/PLM industry luminaries. Brad has done an impressive job at getting the “Who’s Who” in this industry to attend year after year. Thirty-three spouses attended, including mine. Brad and his small army of staff treated us and others like royalty. The food, entertainment, and all activities associated with the event were first-class. The cost to attend COFES is $1,995 to $2,895, depending on when you register.

COFES 2012 was my fifth, if my memory serves me correctly. At most of them, including this one, Brad has invited me to host a briefing on additive manufacturing and 3D printing. A briefing is a casual gathering of 10-25 people in a hotel suite. Brad asks the hosts to start the meeting with 3-5 minutes of comments and then open up it to discussion. I always bring many AM parts to pass around, so they always generate questions and comments. Interest in the subject of 3D printing at COFES is at an all-time high.

One of the special events at COFES 2012 was a presentation by Dr. Alan Kay. He is one of the earliest pioneers of object-oriented programming, personal computing, and graphical user interfaces. Alan has been a Xerox Fellow, Chief Scientist of Atari, Apple Fellow, Disney Fellow, and HP Senior Fellow. Another special session was a “fireside chat” with Dick Morley. He is the inventor of the programmable logic controller (PLC), anti-lock brakes, and the floppy disk. I had the privilege of serving on a Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ committee with Dick for several years, so I got to know him pretty well.

Indeed, COFES is like no other event, and it is a privilege to attend and participate. People are asked to dress casually (no coats and ties), and many wear shorts and sandals. Brad knows how to create a relaxing atmosphere and get people to contribute constructively on a wide range of subjects. I go away inspired and recharged and I’m already looking forward to the next one.