Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Emriver Em2 ships to Australia!

An Emriver Em2 bound for Australia!

Today we shipped our first Em2 to Australia.

It’ll travel over ten thousand miles by land and sea, arriving at Charles Sturt University in Thurgoona, New South Whales, Australia early in August, where it will live in the School of Environmental Sciences and teach students about river and floodplain ecology.

We celebrate our first shipment to Australia.
Twenty years ago our founder, Steve Gough, with colleagues at the Missouri Department of Conservation, designed crude portable river models as a hands-on solution to the problem of explaining the effects of gravel mining. They were a smashing success then, and we've greatly improved them since.

Emriver models now span the Globe, helping students, stakeholders, and citizens learn about geomorphology, ecology, and how rivers work.

The faculty and staff at Charles Sturt University have been enthusiastic and wonderful to work with, making this big event an even sweeter one for us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Walking the not-cheap green walk at LRRD.

Three years ago, an NSF reviewer who rejected a proposal including our models wrote they were "too expensive," and we should "provide them at cost."  He meant "cost of parts," a terribly flawed idea.

Our basic Em2 requires a lot of labor to build, setting aside the thousands of hours we've spent on design. 

A Daystar light in our formerly dark back room.
At LRRD we pay well and provide good benefits, and our only source of income is sales and investment by my wife Kate and me.  So "at cost" includes a lot of things besides parts, even if we make zero profit.

Somebody paid for the roof over the NSF reviewer's building -- a part of the cost of anything he does.

At LRRD we've just installed about $30,000 worth of roof and lighting.

Our contractor stripped off and landfilled nearly 30,000 pounds of unrecyclable (in Southern Illinois) asphalt shingle roofing. 

The cheapest option was more of that, but instead we used 2,500 pounds of metal, chosen for maximum environmental benefit, including a 40+ year lifespan and complete recyclability.

And we installed skylights to provide most of our lighting needs.  They're called DayStar units, and are built by Amish workers nearby.  The cost was about $1,400 per unit; a very long payback period at current electricity rates, but we now have amazing sun-powered lighting.

Alee gives our roofers an Em2 demonstration.
Above, you see us having great fun with the light that formerly bounced unused off our roof, and Baine Roofing guys getting fluvial geomorphology schooling from Alee.  Below, a glimpse of Amish workers (who asked their likeness not be published) installing the lights. 

Our models may seem expensive to grant reviewers.  But the Em2 will always be sold at the lowest price we can afford, which has to include salaries and benefits and sustainable roofing.  

Alee in the crazy mirrored sun tunnel below the Daystar
lights as they're installed.
Our clients who understand what things cost paid for this.  And we bring much-needed money into economically-depressed Southern Illinois, and create great jobs.

When all was done, our Moroccan-born Muslim business manager, Meriam, handed the Amish foreman a check, and we all smiled.

The DayStar installation was designed and arranged by Steve Johnson, owner of Southern Lights LLC.  The Amish owners of DayStar can be reached at 618.426.1868 and don't have a web presence.

Christina watching our Daystar light installation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Final Day Movie - ASEE 2012 - San Antonio.

Lily, Nathan, and I showed our Em3 and prototype Emflume1 to hundreds of visitors at ASEE in San Antonio this week.  The conference, a gathering of engineering educators, ended Wednesday.

I was stunned by the response to both models.  Engineering's been a tough market to crack for us because of recent changes in the way it's taught at universities.  Lab exercises have to plug into specific national curriculum requirements, and new teaching tools like ours, lacking a background and curriculum, are hard to introduce.

At this meeting we talked to dozens of interested professors and non-university educators who were excited about the Em3 and Emflume.  We've really turned a corner; most weren't too concerned about the curriculum problem and many were interested in helping us develop engineering curricula.  All agreed the models were wonderful hands-on tools and that the models would be powerful outreach tools.

I had great success in getting feedback from educators on the Emflume1's design.  It's clear the overall concept is near-perfect, but many made great suggestions for measurement tools, and all affirmed that a "desktop" flume was a great idea.

Thanks to everybody at LRRD for the many hours of difficult work required for us to host a booth at San Antonio.  Lily and Nathan were absolutely wonderful colleagues who did all the heavy lifting for setup and teardown, and a fabulous job of talking to visitors.

And this just in, Lily and our models kick off the last day's coverage on "ASEE TV!" 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

ASEE San Antonio, Day One.

We're at the American Society for Engineering Education conference in San Antonio.

Tonight's opening was wonderful, we introduced our Em3 and Emflume1, and Engineering educators love them both.

These exhibitions are tough for us; they require months of preparation and are aimed at (and priced) for behemoths like AutoDesk, and Wiley & Sons, a couple of our booth neighbors.

Lily and Nathan have done a wonderful job, I couldn't ask for better colleagues. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Little River at the Shallow Flows Symposium

Editor's note: This post was written by our Research Assistant, Christina Bovinette.

Lily talks with professors gathered around the Em3

This week Lily and I were in Iowa City for the Third International Symposium on Shallow Flows (ISSF), a forum in environmental hydraulics and fluid mechanics.

Shallow Flows 2012 was held on the banks of the Iowa River at the University of Iowa, home to the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research (IIHR), one of our nation's oldest and most distinguished hydraulic research and teaching laboratories.

This year's Shallow Flows drew about 150 participants from around the globe.  Our Em3 attracted visitors from Canada, the UK, Japan, Taiwan, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and more. 

We hosted a constant crowd around the Em3, and inquiries poured in. We found that, at least where LRRD is concerned, the International Symposium on Shallow Flows isn’t so shallow after all!

Emflume1 prototype debut.

Today we rolled the prototype Emflume1 into the sunshine outside our lab and fired it up.

We'll debut this model at ASEE in San Antonio next week.

It's a worldwide first, a desktop 2D flume, based on designs by (and help from) Steven Vogel and others.  And and on hundreds of hours of work in our shop and lab.

The super-efficient ducted prop design needs little power to pump a lot of water and can circulate plastic sediment with ease.

We're asking engineering profs at ASEE to help us refine the design.  What measurement and teaching tools do you need?