You’re involved in one of the most cutting-edge areas of Iowa manufacturing. What’s the biggest change you expect to see in industry during the coming years?
I expect to see the concepts of Industry 4.0 become more of a reality. Automation, big data, and cloud computing will continue to permeate Iowa’s manufacturing base. Increased automation through the Internet of Things (IoT) will turn every single part of the manufacturing process into a data-generating stream. Big data will allow these streams to be stored and turned into useful information for process improvement, while cloud computing will allow this to be done anywhere in the world.
Tell us how you spend your day.
I am a liaison between Iowa manufacturers and the RAPID institute, which seeks to make chemical manufacturers more efficient & agile through the principles of process intensification. More specifically, I’m looking to find Iowa manufacturers that will build the next generation of chemical plants, and if they are not ready for that, find ways to enable them to be ready. I’m also connecting Iowa manufacturers with technology developed at RAPID.
Part of your CIRAS role involves traveling and meeting with companies. Since you are relatively new, how much time do you expect to spend in the car?
I’m not sure on the miles yet, but I estimate 3-4 company visits per month. Most of my company contacts will be over the phone or email.
What was your first job?
My first paid job was working for a local cherry orchard in south, central Washington State.
What where you doing before you started at CIRAS last fall?
I was working full-time as an automation engineer for the Bioeconomy Institute (BEI) at Iowa State University. BEI is a nationally recognized research institute that seeks to ensure Iowa’s prominence in the advanced biofuel and bioeconomy revolution. Now I work 50% for BEI and 50% for CIRAS.
If you could wave your magic wand and change one thing for Iowa manufacturers, what would it be?
I would want all Iowa manufacturers to adopt advanced manufacturing concepts, like Industry 4.0, so they are not disadvantaged in the future. On a related note, I would want them to improve their cybersecurity practices.