2008/07/28

EAA AirVenture, MIT Alumni and Regional Tech Center

Today's technology focus was aviation as I was privileged to enjoy the gracious hospitality of the MIT Club of Wisconsin and EAA at the AirVenture 2008 airshow.

The MIT Club of Wisconsin is the alumni group for people living in Wisconsin who have graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT alumni enjoy and participate in technology more than any other group I have ever seen, experienced or read about. It is tremendously enjoyable to talk with them and be allowed to participate in some of their events.

The MIT Club of Wisconsin began sponsoring EAA Women Soar and having a group outing at the AirVenture several years ago. Plans are afoot for having a world-wide MIT alumni travel expedition planned for Wisconsin in the summer of 2009, with one day of the multi-day expedition being spent at AirVenture 2009. The tech community in Wisconsin will have to come up with some cool technology ideas and activities to entertain and engage the MIT alumni who are able to come during summer 2009. Lots of planning and organizing are needed for that. If you love technology and want to assist the MIT Club of Wisconsin in planning ways to entertain this group of travelers let me know, and I'll put you in touch with Allyn Z.

I took a couple hundred pictures at AirVenture today with the idea that some of them might be useful for the MIT Alumni Travel coordinator in putting together marketing materials for the Wisconsin Summer 2009 event. A couple examples of those pictures are included in today's post.




In addition to just enjoying the day, there were two other reasons I attended the MIT EAA outing today. The first was to meet Bill Steele. He was introduced to me by Larry C, but Bill and I had not yet had a chance to meet. Bill was gracious enough to come to the pavilion where the MIT alumni were meeting to present a talk on his VirtualHUD avionics innovation, as explained on his website at www.virtualhud.com. Other than saying hi and asking a couple quick questions, Bill and I still didn't really have time to talk. With a bit of luck, maybe I'll be able to track him down tomorrow at AirVenture.


Carl Dietrich, an MIT alumni, was the other post-lunch speaker. Carl is developing a 'road-able' plane, and his company is Terrafugia. He has given updates on Terrafugia's progress at the MIT alumni AirVenture outings each of the last two years. It's exciting to hear about new developments and employee who have joined this venture. More info about his plane, the Transition, can be found on his website at http://terrafugia.com/vehicle.html. Carl's hard work is resulting in some people's 'visions of sugarplums' at Christmas-time include a plane they can drive from their garage to the airport, fly to their destination, then drive to the hotel, golf club or restaurant that was their final destination.

The second reason I wanted to join the MIT alumni today was to plant an idea with them for a potential MIT Club of Wisconsin project. This group would be an ideal organization to develop, promote and help lead a public Regional Tech Development Center, probably in Milwaukee or Madison. It might also make sense to consider locating this center in Appleton since there is already an established MIT Fab Lab at Fox Valley Technical College. This regional tech development center, as I envision it, will include an MIT Fab Lab, a TechShop, and many components of the Rockford, Illinois, EIGERlab. The center's focus is a harmonious blend of applied technology, innovation, entrepreneurism and collaboration. The advanced manufacturing which is one of Wisconsin's industry sector strengths makes this region a perfect place to launch such an initiative.

I enjoyed talking with Steve R, Lynnanne H, Jacob K, Allyn Z and others about this proposal. With a bit of watering and judicious applications of Miracle-Grow, the seeds planted today may result in the sprouting of one or several regional tech development centers!




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