A new year should mean new ideas, new horizons, and new ways of doing things. But there also are older tasks carried forward—all the ideas there almost was time for in the year gone by that are still fresh and worthy of pursuit. Here are a few projects I have in my hip pocket that should make for interesting and provocative stories in 2014.
The first looks at universities and entrepreneurial incubation programs. These collaborations provide facilities, professorial expertise, and grad-student labor in return for new visions of technologies and a piece of the action when the technologies break into the mainstream.
Last summer, I dropped by the New Jersey Institute of Technology for a morning’s worth of interviews with the directors of one such program there and entrepreneurs who were taking advantage of it. I have transcripts of those conversations, and you will find out more about them in the months ahead.
I also want to pursue more grassroots collaborations that could develop new skills among participants and foster innovation. My wife Vicky has taken part in several hackathons this fall. Meanwhile, my future son-in-law Adam helped found Hacker Dojo, which is something more than the usual incubator.
Hacker Dojo is a 16,600-square-foot community center and hackerspace in Mountain View, Calif. Besides providing working space for software projects, it hosts events that range from technology classes to biology, computer hardware, and manufacturing. There’s a huge library, fast Wi-Fi, and access to friendly geniuses. What’s especially cool is that there’s no stratification in terms of age or gender. There are scary-smart youngsters collaborating with working engineers and coders and grad students in a resource-rich, friendly collaborative environment.
Along those lines, I need to revisit TechShop and see why it works so well in Silicon Valley and struggles so hard elsewhere. TechShop is where you go when you need the machine tools to develop hardware prototypes. Membership isn’t cheap, but look at the machines you get access to once you’ve been trained to use them. There are manual and CNC mills; metal lathes and routers; MIG, TIG, gas, arc, and spot welders; sheet metal brakes and shears; plasma cutters; and even industrial sewing machines.
Finally, I’ve been husbanding a bunch of contributed technical articles that will see publication in 2014. Topics range from applications for ultracapacitors to autonomous vehicles, with some good advice about troubleshooting power supply noise both acoustical and at radio frequencies.
I have 12 months to get all that and much more neat and into print and online. It should be an interesting year