Category Archives: Did You Know?

Happy Birthday Thomas Edison!!

Did you know Thomas Edison was born on February 11? He would go on to become an inventor, entrepreneur, project manager, technology leader, manufacturer, businessman, husband, and father. In his lifetime, he achieved more than the average man such as a record 1,093 patents, only one of them being the lightbulb.

Below are some of the highlights of his life. Thanks for everything, Tom!

Major Career Stats

Thomas Edison created whole new industries such as:

  • Music industry (phonographs)
  • Motion pictures (camera to projector)
  • Power industry/electric light bulb
  • The West Orange invention factory [R&D labs]

Thomas Edison also disrupted and radically changed these industries:

  • Telegraphs
  • Telephones
  • Cement making
  • Battery manufacture

Thomas Edison made lasting impressions on the world through:

  • Championing solar energy (ca. 1910-1915)
  • Promoting electric vehicle garage charging (ca. 1905)
  • Being the great grandfather of STEM education and team based problem solving
  • Inspiring people to “fail” their way to success
  • Continuous product improvement in all industries

Thomas Edison’s Impact on Society

  • He has the most recognizable face in the world
  • His landmark light bulb invention is the international icon for bright ideas
  • Life Magazine proclaimed him the “Man of the Millennium” [1996]
  • TIME Magazine featured him on cover of special July 2010 history issue which proclaimed him relevant to our world today
  • He was an inspiration to generations of inventors and entrepreneurs
  • The biggest effect on today’s society? Thomas Edison’s inventions and creations to this very day account for about $12 trillion of the world’s $80 trillion economy; and one-fourth of the jobs on the planet. How is that for staying power?

Thomas Edison teaches us more than anything else that inventors and entrepreneurs are a huge positive force for good in the world.

Enjoy an exciting TEDx Talk story about Thomas Edison at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrw5brX1Wfo .

Thomas Edison said, “Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
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Thomas Edison Invention Challenge and Pitch Contest!

It’s time for the 9th annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge and Pitch Contest. Over the past 8 years, probably several thousand middle school and high school students across the Nation have taken this challenge, competing for top honors.  Some have told us how much this challenge affected their career choice to enter careers in the sciences and engineering. Think about participating in this intense 90-day experience; and gain the kinds of skills you will use on-the-job for a lifetime.

2018 Pitch Contest winners–middle school division. Picture you and your students with smiles like this!

We will be accepting teams of up to 4 students (3 teams per school permitted) with 1 teacher mentor who will receive a $300 stipend upon contest completion.

Here are some benefits to participating in the Edison Pitch Contest:

  • Learn about STEM in a fun way!
  • Pitch your invention to a panel of judges who are real-life scientists & entrepreneurs.
  • Work on a team with friends to win the grand prize – a 3D printer for your school!

To register: Registration and participation in this contest is completely free! Complete the registration form and submit a 3-5 minute video about Thomas Edison and what you plan to invent based on materials provided. Learn more about the video submission requirements here.

Once registered (form & video submitted), students will receive their chosen maker kit (Alternative Energy, Mechanical Engineering, OR Biomedical Engineering) and have no more than 90 days to complete their project! 

“There is a little bit of Edison in all of us. Don’t be afraid to unleash it!”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
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Thomas Edison Admires Wind Machine Innovation

Innovation can occur anywhere, this time in wind energy technology, with a radical step away from the big propeller driven wind machines to a simple vibrating post. Inits start-up phase, Vortex Bladeless is developing an environmentally friendly wind machine that resonates with the wind–see this fascinating video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW4AzDpjcsI

Aesthetically clean profile of Vortex Bladeless wind machine technology

It is a new wind energy technology specially designed for on-site generation; with selected partners and supporters on the development team. Early uses of this technology are expected to be in Africa and India, with scale-up to larger machines as experience and engineering allow. Let’s examine some of the expected benefits:

  • Easy to install
  • Can pack wind machines closer together–more power output per area
  • Less intrusive on bird populations/migratory paths
  • Lighter construction-less intrusive site construction
  • No complex moving parts to lubricate and maintenance
  • No oils needed therefore no possible spills
  • Reduction of foundation size
  • Omnidirectional–no need to “yaw” into the wind
  • Quiet energy production

Vortex bladeless is mainly a solution for distributed energy generation. It is perfect to be placed near a house or over the roof. It can work on grid and off grid, and as a part of a hybrid solar installation plus wind generation.

Editor’s Deep Dive:

Thomas Edison said … “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy.What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.
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How Old are Successful Tech Entrepreneurs?

How Old are Successful Tech Entrepreneurs?Read the popular press and you conclude that successful entrepreneurship is the domain of the young, what with the personalities we see so prominently in the news regarding high tech, and information based companies. Folks tend to think youth is favored for really great ideas and innovations.

Consider….would investors bet their money on high–energy youthful entrepreneurs over the older “silverbacks” with lots of hard-knocks experience….thus missing out on some great potential opportunities? Might older entrepreneurs be too ingrained in the status quo as opposed to younger folks who have little to tie them down to what already exists, and thus are better potential “disruptors” that can laser focus on the new business?

A recent study that involved researchers from the U.S. Census Bureau and MIT has developed some interesting facts about entrepreneurship. In a nutshell, the researchers concluded:

  • The best entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged.
  • Among the very fastest-growing new tech companies, the average founder was 45 at the time of founding.
  • A given 50-year-old entrepreneur is nearly twice as likely to have a runaway success as a 30-year-old.

Work done at the Kellogg School seems commensurate with these findings. Basically, the longer you have been around, the better your chances of success.

Industry disruption does not have to come from outsiders. Silverbacks with loads of experience and market savvy can make a big difference.

How Old are Successful Tech Entrepreneurs?

Will this change how investors fund new start-ups and older entrepreneurs? Are we going to see a shift in business investment strategies?

Edison innovated and disrupted things throughout his life, his experience and determination so highly focused on the tasks at hand; and he never let failure stand in his way. Look at these stats about his age and major accomplishments:

  • Revolutionized telegraphy – 27
  • R&D Labs concept – 29
  • Phonograph – 30
  • Light bulb – 32
  • Electric utility – 37
  • Establishes General Electric – 43
  • Movies – 46
  • Edison cement – 52
  • Storage batteries – 63
  • Spreads R&D Labs to U.S. Navy – 68
  • Artificial rubber – 80

Thomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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