Featured Innovators of the Month: Greg & Jill Henderson

Hoverboard

Courtesy of Arx Pax

“Just like anything else, a successful result starts with a working prototype and continues to evolve as more resources are brought to bear on design optimization and technology advancements” – Greg & Jill Henderson

Willamette Valley Company values innovation. We admire the many individuals who are working to put their ideas into action with the goal of raising the bar and making our world a better, more sustainable place. Our innovator spotlight this month is on Greg & Jill Henderson, co-founders of Arx Pax, the company behind the development of the Hendo Hoverboard.

Remember the iconic scene when Marty McFly zips through town on a levitating skateboard in the 80’s film “Back to the Future 2” (which happens to take place in the year 2015)? That could soon be a reality.

Hendo Hover

Photo source: Hendo Hover Facebook Page

The Hendo Hoverboard is described by Arx Pax as a stable, self-propelled, levitation platform with no external power source. The key principle behind this technology is Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA™), Henderson’s term for what others may call magnetic levitation, or maglev. Maglev is already transforming the rail industry in some Asian countries by powering “super trains”. These trains have the ability to travel at extreme high speeds because there is no friction between the train’s wheels and axles and the rails.

Unlike a train, the Hendo Hoverboard doesn’t follow a track. Rather, it hovers freely over a special surface plated in copper which acts as an inductor that allows an electric current to flow through it resulting in a magnetic field. “The magic behind the hoverboard lies in its four disc-shaped hover engines,” the company says. “These create a special magnetic field which literally pushes against itself, generating the lift which levitates our board off the ground.”

Click here for a more detailed explanation of the science behind this device.

Want to see it in action? Watch skateboarding champ Tony Hawk try it out during a recent visit to the Arx Pax labs in Los Gatos, California.

Though there are limitations, the Hendersons are hopeful the Hendo Hoverboard will serve as a starting point for future innovators to develop the technology and ultimately serve the larger goals of sustainability and safety. “We’re trying to inspire co-creation across the globe, and we’re getting some fantastic responses. The ideas that people have already come up with for the company’s hovering Whitebox (a scaled-back form of the hovering engine) are “amazing” and “exciting,” Greg says in a recent post.

To learn more about the Hendersons, Arx Pax and their inventions, visit these helpful resources.

www.wired.com
archinect.com
www.americanantigravity.com
www.arxpax.com
hendohover.com

Why We Need More Women in STEM Careers

Women In STEM

Source: “Mentors Help Create A Sustainable Pipeline For Women In STEM” – Forbes.com

“One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to.” – President Barack Obama

In last month’s blog spotlight on STEM Education Coalition, we shared some ideas about the effect STEM education will have on the future of our nation’s workforce and economy. WVCO is comprised of numerous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics innovators and we value the growth of STEM education and training in this country and around the world.

It is widely believed an increase of skilled workers are needed in the STEM fields for our economy to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Yet, for some reason, women and other minority groups are underrepresnted in these fields.

An Executive Summary by the Economics and Statistics Administration states that:

• Nearly half of the US workforce are women, yet they’ve held less than 25% of STEM jobs consistently over the last decade.

• Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs.

• Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in
Engineering.

• Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM
occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare.

Source: Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation

“Supporting women STEM students and researchers is not only an essential part of America’s strategy to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world; it is also important to women themselves,” states the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “And STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation”.

Science and Engineering fields are in need strong innovators regardless of gender, background and nationality. However, there is little doubt that attracting more women and girls — as well as other underrepresented groups into STEM programs will help to make our workforce even stronger and more prepared for the future.

2015 Western Bridge Preservation Partnership Meeting

Bridge Preservation
A few months ago, “60 Minutes” aired an insightful report about America’s aging infrastructure. According to the peice, titled “Falling apart: America’s neglected infrastructure“, 1 in 9 of the 700,000 bridges in the United States is considered “structurally deficient”.

Transportation activists and professionals agree there is an urgent need for lawmakers to invest in the much needed restoration of America’s outdated roads, rails, airports, seaports and bridges. One of the biggest challenges facing transportation engineering and maintenance personnel today is maintaining the integrity of these massive structures used by millions of people every day.

“Our highway infrastructure took decades and generations of Americans to build and is simply too valuable to be left to languish,” says Larry Galehouse, National Center for Pavement Preservation (NCPP) in this post. “As with any valuable asset, we must work hard to preserve it by judicious and timely proactive maintenance.”

Our POLYQuik Performance Products team is looking forward to meeting with bridge practitioners from state and local agencies, contractors, consultants, suppliers, academia, and federal government officials at the 2015 Western Bridge Preservation Partnership Meeting May 18-20, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. The event is a regional forum dedicated to bridge preservation practices throughout the Western Region.

Bridge Preservation is defined as “actions or strategies that prevent, delay or reduce deterioration of bridges or bridge elements, restore the function of existing bridges, keep bridges in good condition and extend their life.” Source: AASHTO Board of Directors, Policy Resolution PR-3-11, October 17, 2011.

The experienced chemists and engineers in our POLYQuik division continue to research and create high performance concrete repair products that are successfully utilized in bridge maintenance. The conference is an opportunity for us to share our concrete repair solutions with bridge maintenance managers, superintendents, designers, crews, planners, programmers, inspectors along with local, state, federal, and other agency bridge owners involved in bridge maintenance activities.

photo credit: “Old Town” Tbilisi and the Mktvari River via photopin (license)