Spartan Engineers Build It Better At 20th Annual Design Day

EAST LANSING — If you’re worried about America’s future as a world-class innovator, go to the next Michigan State University College of Engineering Design Day.

The 20th anniversary edition of Design Day took place Friday, a week
before graduation, and provided a glimpse into the seemingly endless
inventiveness and problem-solving capability of the American engineer.

Continue reading Spartan Engineers Build It Better At 20th Annual Design Day

ESD Tours Shinola – A Photo Gallery

A photo gallery from ESD’s tour of the Shinola watch factory in Detroit, Thursday, April 24, 2014.

ESD Tours Shinola Watch Works

DETROIT — Watch production is back in America — and it’s in Detroit.

Twenty members and guests of The Engineering Society of Detroit got an up-close, first-hand look at the first watch movement line in America since the 1960s at Shinola, the Detroit watchmaking company housed in the A. Alfred Taubman Center of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, formerly known as the Argonaut Building.

The venture-backed company has been making watches in Detroit for a year and a half now, after being founded in 2011 by a principal of Fossil watches and partners.

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Whirlpool, Purdue Team Up On Green Home Demonstration

BENTON HARBOR — An energy-inefficient, late 1920’s vintage bungalow in West Lafayette, Ind., will become a living laboratory for appliance and resource efficiency research under a partnership of Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp. and Purdue University.

Whirlpool engineers are working with Purdue to transform an off-campus house into a net-zero energy, water and waste structure. Called the ReNEWW house — for Retrofitted Net-zero Energy, Water and Waste — the structure will be renovated to include energy-saving features, solar panels, a system to reuse “gray” water from sinks and showers, and other technologies that promote resource efficiency.

“Net-zero energy means that over a certain timeline, usually an entire year, energy production equals energy consumption,” said Eckhard Groll, project sponsor, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Office of Professional Practice at Purdue University. “It’s going to be a super-efficient home.”

Over the next three years, Whirlpool engineers that participate in the Whirlpool Engineering Rotational Leadership Development (WERLD) Program and are enrolled in the engineering graduate program at Purdue will have the option to live and work in the house, which Whirlpool is leasing from the university. After initial collection of baseline data, such as how much energy and water the home consumes, Groll said the students will work on converting the house into a net-zero home. Improvements will include replacing windows, insulating and air sealing the building envelope, installing a solar power system and installing a more efficient HVAC system.

Plans for the home also call for finishing the large basement into a laboratory environment. Engineers will install an instrumentation system that monitors key data and employ the lab and data collected to help develop a next-generation, high-efficiency appliance suite in conjunction with Purdue.

“The goal of this project is not only to learn more about resource sustainability, but also to demonstrate how any home can become resource efficient when the right kind of modifications are made,” said Bob Bergeth, Whirlpool’s general manager of builder sales. “After we’ve compiled this valuable research, we plan to share it with our homebuilder partners interested in the benefits of sustainable building. The project will also provide valuable insights which inform our engineers on future product design.”

Ron Voglewede, Whirlpool’s Global Sustainability Lead, added that the residential remodeling sector is an area that is particularly ripe for efficiency improvements, considering that a majority of the nation’s housing stock was built before the first energy crisis and with little regard for resource efficiency.

“We want to focus on ways to dramatically improve the existing residential stock in the United States, which is why the project research will stress integrated appliance design that seamlessly increases resource efficiency,” Voglewede said. “By creating products that perform better while significantly lowering operating costs and environmental impacts, we’re able to give consumers more choice, not compromises.”

More about Whirlpool’s sustainability practices and builder and contract channel products at http://www.InsideAdvantage.com.

Versicor Contest Offers $250K Of Its Software Development Services

ROYAL OAK — Verisicor, the Royal Oak electronics, software and controls developer, has launched a contest it’s calling Ideas to Action for entrepreneurs with product ideas in medical devices, cleantech or transportation.

Selected winners will get part of $250,000 worth of electronics, controls and software development services, including access to Versicor engineers.

“Through this award, our goal is to recognize product ideas in thier infancy so we can better assess and deliver tangible products that embody their full potential,” said Versicor president Christie Coplen.

The first round of Ideas to Action opens May 1, and applications will be accepted through Aug. 15. Winners will be announced Aug. 30. For more information, visit http://goversicor.com/ideas-2-action.

High Tech Earnings Roundup: Detrex, Dow Chemical, CMS, DTE, More

SOUTHFIELD — Detrex Corp. (OTC: DTRX) reported net income
of $541,945 or 31 cents a share in the first quarter ended March 31,
down from $1.04 million or 60 cents a share in the same quarter a
year earlier. Revenue was $10.2 million, down from $11.2 million a
year earlier. The company also announced it would pay a dividend
of 25 cents a share on June 24 to shareholders of record as of
June 10. The company said the sales decline was caused by
normal fluctuations in sales levels, partially offset by higher sales in
China. Founded in 1925, Southfield-based Detrex, through its
subsidiary Elco Corp., manufactures specialty chemicals.

Also, materials and chemicals giant Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) of Midland reported net income of $964 million or 79 cents a share in the first quarter, up from $550 million or 46 cents a share in the same
quarter a year earlier. Revenue was $14.46 billion, up from $14.38
billion a year earlier. Higher sales in China led the revenue increase.
Among product lines, performance plastics, coatings and
infrastructure solutions led the way. The company said it cut
research and development spending 10 percent year over year,
part of a strategy to prioritize R&D spending on “high-growth market
sectors.” Capital expenditures, however, jumped to $672 million
from $346 million a year earlier.

Also, Jackson-based CMS Energy posted net income of $204 million or 75 cents a share in the first quarter, up from $144 million or 53 cents a share a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter was $2.52 billion, up from $1.98 billion a year earlier. The utility holding company said a harsh winter boosted natural gas deliveries and electric sales, improving profits. CMS also affirmed its existing earnings guidance for all of 2014 at between $1.74 and $1.78 a share. Economic indicators in Consumers Energy’s Michigan service territory continue to point to good recovery and job growth. Several industries have announced expansion projects and electric sales to industrial customers are expected to grow by about 2 percent per year. Consumers Energy is supporting the state’s economic recovery through its commitment to increase by $1 billion its purchase of Michigan-made goods and services over five years, from 2011-2016, as part of Pure Michigan Business Connect. This is in addition to the more than $2 billion the company spends each year in Michigan. Other quarterly highlights include the company’s announcement to purchase, with plans to close the transaction in late 2015, a 540 megawatt natural gas plant in its hometown of Jackson, Michigan to largely replace seven older coal plants, and a new program to purchase renewable energy from anaerobic digesters operated primarily by Michigan farmers.

And the Detroit utility holding company DTE Energy reported first quarter net income of $326 million, or $1.84 a share, up from $234 million, or $1.34 a share, a year earlier. Revenue was $3.53 billion, up from $2.92 billion a year earlier. Harsh winter weather boosted DTE’s sales of electricity and natural gas — and thus, higher revenue and profit. DTE also reiterated its 2014 operating earnings guidance of $4.20 to $4.40 per diluted share. The full earnings announcement, as well as a package of slides and supplemental information, is available at http://www.dteenergy.com. To listen to a replay of the discussion of the results, call (888) 203-1112 in the United States and Canada and (719) 457-0820 elsewhere, and enter passcode 8376260.

And Livonia-based automotive safety systems developer TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. (NYSE: TRW) reported first quarter net income of $199 million or $1.68 a share, up from $162 million or $1.29 a share in the first quarter of 2013. Excluding one-time events, 2014 net income was $215 million or $1.82 a share, up from an equivalent of $1.51 a share a year earlier. The one-time items are restructuring charges and the tax impacts of those charges. Revenue was $4.44 billion, up from $4.21 billion a year earlier. The company said it expects 2014 revenue to fall between $17.4 billion and $17.7 billion. To listen in on a replay of a conference call discussing the results, U.S. locations should dial (855) 859-2056, and locations outside the U.S. should dial (404) 537-3406. The replay code is 21549269. A replay of the conference call will also be available at http://www.trw.com.

Midland-based Dow Corning Corp. announced first quarter 2014 revenue of $1.52 billion, an increase of 21 percent from $1.26 billion in 2013. Net income was $191 million, up 207 percent from $62 million a year earlier. Adjusted net income in the first quarter of 2014 was $109 million, up 65 percent from $66 million a year earlier. Adjusted net income for 2014 excluded gains from a derivative contract and long term sales agreements. Adjusted net income for 2013 excluded restructuring expenses. Dow Corning’s silicones segment experienced volume growth across most geographic regions. Dow Corning’s polysilicon segment continued to see strong shipments as customers accepted delivery of material purchased through long-term contracts. Dow Corning is equally owned by Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. and New York-based Corning Inc. Hemlock Semiconductor Group (www.hscpoly.com) is comprised of several joint venture companies owned in majority by Dow Corning Corp. Hemlock Semiconductor is a provider of polycrystalline silicon and other silicon-based products used in the manufacturing of semiconductor devices and solar cells and modules. Hemlock Semiconductor began its operations in 1961.

Campfire Interactive On The Hunt For Programmers, Analysts

ANN ARBOR — An Ann Arbor software company, Campfire Interactive Inc., is in the market for about seven new staffers through a partnership with the Oak Brook, Ill.-based IT staffing company Interactive Business Systems Inc.

Campfire is looking to add programmers, business analysts, project managers and quality specialists based on the company’s growing customer base.

“It is a very exciting time at Campfire as these new customer implementations are in new verticals and will be our largest and most comprehensive to date,” says Pradeep Seneviratne, Campfire president and CEO. “It is great to be at the stage where companies are calling us to see the product suite we offer, rather than spending months trying to get in front of the right person at the right time.”

Added Seneviratne: “This year we have already added five people. We will end up adding another seven people by the end of the yaer. That will bring total employment to 30 to 35 people.”

IBS brings to the partnership over 30 years of experience in IT staffing. They also have a strong global presence that will be important to provide 24-7 support to Campfire’s customers who have users all over the world.

Campfire software manages a variety of business processes, including opportunity management, sales forecasting, market share management, competitor intelligence management, cost and price estimation, and change cost management.

More at http://www.cfi2.com.

More about IBS at http://www.ibs.com. The company’s Michigan office is in Livonia.

Startup’s CNG Muscle Car Campaign Hits Indiegogo

SHELBY TWP. — A Macomb County startup has launched a
fundraising campaign on the independent business funding site
Indiegogo to expand its work on converting gasoline powered
vehicles to compressed natural gas for the consumer market.

Companies like Livonia’s Roush are already offering CNG retrofits
to larger vehicles like delivery vans and utility trucks. But Daryl
Patrishkoff and his partners in Performance CNG LLC are targeting
passenger cars, trucks and SUVs.

Patrishkoff is a 40-year veteran in auto engineering who got into the
CNG market several years ago converting four vehicles for the American Natural Gas Alliance. The vehicles — a BMW X3, a GMC Denali, a Ford Mustang GT and a Hyundai Sonata — are now on a tour.

Last year, Patrishkoff and partners Todd Connolly, build technician,
and Doug Hall, calibration engineer, decided to go off on their own
with a CNG-retrofitted 2003 Mustang GT muscle car.

Patrishkoff self-funded the project and debuted the CNG Mustang
at the 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise. On a dynamometer, the
CNG-powered muscle car hit 469 horsepower at the rear wheels —
identical to the gasoline version.

With the Indiegogo funding, Patrishkoff said he wants to improve
the performance of the Mustang and get to work on his next CNG
car — a Jeep Rubicon.

On the Mustang, he said, “I believe we can increase horsepower
over the gasoline baseline. I believe we can select higher
performance CNG components, which will allow us to pack more
fuel in that combustion chamber. We also need to do a lot more
research to find out what’s going on in there under full throttle.”

As for the Jeep, he said, fuel flow can be a problem in off-road
vehicles going up, down or across steep angles. With CNG under
pressure, that won’t be a problem — another advantage for CNG.

And the advantages for CNG are many. Patrishkoff said that mile
per mile, CNG is 40 percent cheaper than gasoline today. Also, it’s
100 percent American — no imports. And it offers a 25 to 35 percent
reduction in harmful tailpipe emissions. And, Patrishkoff said he
believes natural gas conversion could be a major American job
creator.

More about Patrishkoff’s company at http://www.performcng.com. You
can donate to the Indiegogo campaign at
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/street-legal-muscle-car-running-on-
cng/x/7109221. Patrishkoff is looking to raise $55,000 — $30,000
for EPA testing, $15,000 for high-performance CNG components
and $10,000 for engine calibration refinements and dyno testing.

Depending on their levels of contribution, backers can receive
brochures, technical documentation and continued project progress
updates of the project. The top donation level also receives two
invitations to the grand unveiling event.

But, most of all, they’ll be contributing to a cleaner environment and
a true path to U.S. energy independence.

Also assisting in the effort are the Center for Professional Studies,
the Troy technical trade school of which Patrishkoff is CEO, and
EDAG Group.

All unveiling events will be held at the Woodward Warehouse, a
collector car storage club. More at http://www.woodwardwarehouse.com.

CPS is a state-licensed vocational school focused on engineering,
technical training and consulting services. Since 1993 it has
certified more than 7,000 technical professionals at more than 400
companies in technical tools, techniques and methodologies. CPS
has invested money, time and resources to this program and
developed specific CNG curriculum to be used in engineering CNG
vehicle applications. More at http://www.cpspoly.com.

EDAG Group offers the integrated development of vehicles,
derivatives and modules, through to complete production facilities.
EDAG provides engineering, design, and low volume production
services for the automotive, aerospace, commercial vehicle, rail
and renewable energy industries. More at http://www.EDAG.com.

Ghafari Cracks Top 100 Of Biggest U.S.-Based Design Firms

DEARBORN — Ghafari Associates LLC has cracked the top 100 of the list of the biggest 500 United States-based design firms compiled by the trade publication Engineering News-Record.

Dearborn-based Ghafari came in at No. 99 on the 2014 list, up from No. 111 last year.

The list put Ghafari’s total revenue at $125.6 million for the year, $28.6 million of which came internationally.

The firm’s work included 69 manufacturing projects, which includes automotive, electronics and textile plants; 18 transportation projects, a category that includes airports, bridges, roads, canals, locks, dredging, amrine faciltiies, piers, railroads and tunnels; and four projects in the category industrial process-petroleum, which includes pulp and paper mills, steel mills, pharmaceutical plants, chemical plants, food plants, and oil refineries, pipelines and petrochemical plants.

Continue reading Ghafari Cracks Top 100 Of Biggest U.S.-Based Design Firms

Wineman Expands Clarkston Office After 20% 2013 Growth

SAGINAW — Wineman Technology Inc., a developer of software and test systems for manufacturers, says it will triple the size of its Clarkston office to 6,000 square feet and double its staff to as many as 20 engineers after record order growth of 20 percent in 2013.

Engineers will use the increased lab space to perform processes — such as start-up, debug and trouble-shooting of equipment — previously available only at Wineman’s headquarters in Saginaw.

Continue reading Wineman Expands Clarkston Office After 20% 2013 Growth

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