Thursday, April 9, 2009

Joe Grand and DIY Engineering

Diane here, to talk to you about a guy named Joe Grand. I feel like I am the last person in America to learn about him, so I'm making up for that by offering him the stupendous honor of joining the J.W. Winco Blog's growing pantheon of Engineers We Love.

I learned about Joe from a little piece in the latest issue of Product Design and Development. His subject was how engineering innovation nowadays occurs not only from within the corporate industrial community, but more and more often from hackers and do-it-yourselfers.

And Joe himself is a prime example. As a young guy, he and a group of other hackers who dubbed themselves "the L0pht" made big news by (1) being called upon to testify to Congress about government computer security issues, and (2) claiming they could bring down the Internet in a half hour if they so chose.

Since then, Joe (also known by his handle, "Kingpin" or "KP") has been a renowned inventor, entrepreneur, and author. He also appears on the Discovery Channel's "Prototype This" show, developing inventions like the wearable air bag.

Back to the PD&D story. Joe made the point that the economic downturn has set a lot of engineers loose on the world with mad skills and plenty of free time. As do-it-yourself hobbyists, these folks are congregating on sites like Hack-a-Day, MAKE, and Joe’s own Grand Idea Studio, comparing notes, sharing information.

And what are these DIY engineers up to? Well, they're tweaking existing consumer products into new versions. And they're also devising completely new stuff, like stationary bike book holders and robots with 3D heads modeled of your face. You could spend all day checking out these great inventions! (No, Boss, I didn't spend all day doing that...I wrote this post, for one thing!)

At J.W. Winco we have a history of supporting DIY-ers by supplying them with standard components that, while simpler than a servo, can be essential parts to home engineering projects. For example, over the years we have sold lots of our DIN 6335-TP star knobs to folks who have downloaded this great plan for making your own drafting table, designed by a customer of ours named John Petersen.

Our Technical Sales Associates work with engineers from huge corporations, but they are just as happy to assist hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers. And we'd love to help you out sometime, Joe Grand! I can picture our adjustable levers incorporated into something like your Gamecaster Cybercam, for sure!

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