It’s the culmination of over 40 years work, combining technology developed by NASA in the 1950s with cutting edge biofuel production techniques using purpose-built microorganisms. Coskata appears to be doing what no other cellulosic ethanol startup has done: Proving that the technology works on a large scale.
Two weeks ago, Newsweek released its 2009 Green Rankings , rating America’s 500 largest companies for environmental sustainability. Not surprisingly, food and beverage companies rated below the curve. In comparison with finance, insurance and tech companies, it seems rather intuitive that companies in the manufacturing sector would have a significantly greater impact on the environment.
First of all, I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce myself to all of IMPO ’s readers out there. For the last three or so months I’ve been working behind-the-scenes (along with a number of other people) to get the IMPO Insider Daily delivered to your inbox, well, on a daily basis.
I suppose that the hair would be parted on the other side and I’d be wearing a lavender vest rather than a kindergarten blazer featuring an assortment of arts and crafts, but the photo could just as easily come as the result of an evil motherly plot to sabotage my cool factor (pause for guttural laugh), as it did from a few minutes of Photoshop 101.
Before I decided to study literature in college, I took the typical freshman approach: I changed my major again and again, based on the whims of my current fascinations, causes and favorite professors. It’s scary looking back, considering I could have based my life’s career goals around an affinity for a class that happenstance scheduled following my afternoon latte boost.
Appropriately, I write this blog from the comfort of bed — pillows stacked up behind me, tissue on my right, orange juice on the left, laptop whirring on my arched legs in the beautiful Gaylord Hotel in Orlando, FL. Considering that I flew here specifically to be at the Emerson Global Users Exchange (in amazing Floridian weather whilst my native Wisconsin is getting pummeled by rain and even hail), I couldn’t help but think what a waste.
Since my Milwaukee Brewers won’t be joining the high ranks in the playoffs this year, I’ve been cheating with other teams. Busted. One of the more interesting races to the pennant to watch this year has been the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers bid for the American League Central.
Wednesday was my first day in the office last week, as the first two allowed for a dynamic range of visits that ran the gamut from medical equipment firms to a private label chocolate processor. No offense to the good people at the surgical device companies, but the tempting smells and allure of the subject matter (along with a couple of sweet samples that were so graciously provided) made the chocolate company portion of the trip a definite highlight of this sabbatical from the office environment.
Yesterday marked 20 years since IBM researcher Don Eigler became the first person to move an individual atom , using the tip of his custom-built scanning tunneling microscope. Needing to show that he could do it with a high level of precision, Eigler later arranged 35 xenon atoms in the shape of his company’s logo.
Perhaps it’s because it’s one of the most visible brands out there, but Starbucks has been all up in my face in this recession. I remember vividly when I knew this whole economic collapse was real… and it was literally the day last summer I read in the paper that Starbucks—one of the most ubiquitous and iconic brands of my generation—was going to close the doors on several hundred stores.
Last week I had the pleasure to join some of my PD&D comrades at the Design & Manufacturing show in Rosemont, IL. I had the chance to see what’s new in the industry, scout out potential column ideas for PD&D , and work on my pitching skills to help promote our publication. I learned a lot about the industry and the ins and outs of the business, but I was quite disappointed on how the experience ended.
While it’s not the first time a trip to Starbucks has helped propel my work, it usually has more to do with the caffeine kick than any topical inspiration. However, a visit last week offered some insight on both the innovation and challenges that lie ahead for the processing industry.
“Americans had a champagne taste while on a beer budget.” It wasn’t a particularly life-shattering statement, but as a fan of idioms I was immediately drawn to attention. With it, Alex Davern, National Instruments’ (NI) CFO and senior vice president of manufacturing and IT operations, had succinctly summed up our nation’s propensity to overspend.
Visually, the new Hilltop Brewery owned by the New Glarus Brewing Company is stunning. Nestled on a hilltop just past the town of New Glarus, Wisconsin, a cluster of colorful buildings with jagged rooftops rise up from beautifully landscaped gardens. Things get even better inside.
Do you know the name Norman Borlaug? Me neither, but I think it’s worth a minute of your time to learn a little more about an individual who might have been one of the single greatest human beings to ever walk this planet. His life and the way he approached his passion also offers a blueprint from which we can model our pursuits, and the framework we put around them.
I’m by no means a trade show amateur. In fact, I’ve walked so many expo halls over the course of my career in trade media I probably have permanent shin splints—the result of several marathons of dress shoes on concrete. As I approached the task of packing for Design & Manufacturing Midwest this week, my primary area of focus was on how best to maintain my overall comfort throughout these long days.
In manufacturing, the people losing their jobs are mostly skilled workers, some of whom are highly skilled. Their worry is whether they can find a comparable job that approximates their current income and benefits in the event of a lay-off. The big question is: Are the retraining programs sponsored by state and federal governments going to provide comparable jobs, or are they focused on finding any type of job that is available? An Attempt There are four different government programs that offer training and re-training: The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) : The Workforce Investment Act is the program with the biggest budget for training (approximately $7 billion per year), and was passed in 1998.
September 18, 2009 “Hey, Old Man River, zip it or I’ll break your hip.” – Sonny Koufax, Big Daddy I realize that I lead a fairly unorthodox twentysomething life, but I never thought that I’d find myself in a heated debate with a fellow bar patron over how Serena Williams’ latest outburst translated to justified dedication in the workplace.
September 14, 2009 Anna Wells, Editor, IMPO I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed in the article I recently read on GM’s 1 million milestone in the company’s fuel cell test fleet vehicle experiment. While this is an impressive feat, I didn’t find the facts as uplifting as I’d hoped.
Bonjour! This week’s column comes from about 30,000 feet above Quebec, on my way home after three glorious days in Montreal for the Labor Day weekend. Perfect weather, two days of great music on the city’s waterfront and some interesting food (beef tartare — basically a raw hamburger patty but surprisingly good) was exactly what the doctor ordered, and I’m returning to Chem.