So this happened at OESH this week:
We blew a fuse. Well, actually, we didn’t blow a fuse. An exuberant vine on one of our power line poles blew a fuse. It was a fuse for one of the three transformers for our 480 volt line that went kapooey. That meant all of our 480 volt machinery was down and we couldn’t injection mold for two whole days. As frustrating as it was getting further behind on orders while we waited for Dominion Power to come and fix it, I wasn’t about to try to climb up the pole to try to fix it myself. Honestly. An electrician will tell you: 110 volts can certainly kill you. 240 volts will most definitely kill you. 480 volts will kill you a few times over.
At least our 3D printers marched on through the whole ordeal. They’re only 24 volts. And can be completely unplugged when changing their cute little fuses, which hardly ever seem to blow, anyways.
This is the first book that caught my eye as I randomly wandered a random section of our public library. Last time I did this, the first book that caught my eye was a book on deep fried insects.
Now THIS one I can do. In fact, we’re already doing it!
We’ve been using a specially developed cellular elastomeric material in all our OESH shoe soles for several years now. And now we’re 3D printing that material into our Athena sandals. The material is much more expensive than traditional foam used in shoes soles. Moreover, the process to make shoe soles with this material is much more complex. There was a research article in the journal “Nature” this week comparing the long-term mechanical response of a cellular elastomeric solid created with 3D printing to traditional foam. The upshot is that the 3D printed cellular solid performs better than foam. Of course we already knew that. But it’s nice to see independent peer-reviewed research on the subject.
It would seem that the “STEP Ahead” Award that I got last week, along with 129 other amazing women, would have something to do with making shoes. Well, it does, but not in the way that you think. STEP stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Production” and last week, we were each awarded the 2016 STEP Ahead Award from the Manufacturing Institute in Washington DC. Over a two day celebration we were wined, dined, congratulated and thanked for all the science, technology, engineering, and production awesomeness that we do on a daily basis. Congress people told us how essential we are to the U.S. economy, creating wealth and community and serving as role models for young women and girls to pursue STEM and manufacturing careers. Many of us mentor young women in one way or another. In fact, it was a former mentee of mine, Grace Lefebure who nominated me for the award. Grace was the only woman in her mechanical engineering capstone class with me at OESH a number of years ago. She is now a hotshot engineer making airplane parts for Boeing in Seattle, who won the STEP Ahead Award last year. Thank you Grace!
While I was the only honoree from the shoe industry, there were women from just about every other industry sector, all manufacturing one thing or another right here in the United States. We had much fun talking about injection molding and how to get grease off your clothes (you can’t, which is why you have to wear mostly black). We also talked a lot about coding and 3D printing. Everyone loved my hot pink 3D printed Athena Sandals!
Before we parted, we each had to make a personal commitment as to how we would encourage more girls and women to pursue STEM and manufacturing careers. I promised that I will continue to host factory tours for students. The girls who come through the OESH factory are especially excited to see how we can make shoes using coding and 3D printing. There are very few shoe designers who are women and there are even fewer women who actually manufacture shoes. When girls see what we do here at OESH they can’t help but be inspired to role up their sleeves and learn some code!
What a nice piece in the Charlottesville Daily Progress Business Journal this morning. Thank you so much Allison Wrabel for telling our story!
You can read the full article online here:
So proud. That’s my Jayme protesting for women’s rights with fellow Oxonians at Yarl’s Wood Detention Center in England.
To a Happy and Healthy New Year! Our friend, Mark Cucuzzella, over at Natural Running Center, offers 10 simple things that apply not just to runners, for a healthy 2016.
Last night I dreamt my mom was at our front door, smiling. It’s not unusual that I dream of my mom, who passed away last year. What was unusual about the dream was that she was at the front door. She would have come in through any other door in the house; not the front door. Perhaps she thought that this particular visit was unexpected.
This is the first year that I almost forgot about Mother’s Day. Ever since I can remember, I would begin thinking about what I’d get my mom for Mother’s Day back on Saint Patrick’s Day, my mom’s birthday. But this year, I didn’t give Mother’s Day much if any thought and in fact, didn’t even know when it was going to occur, until yesterday.
Contributing to my lack of memory is the fact that it hardly seems like it’s been a full year since I wrote my last year’s “Happy Mother’s Day” post. It’s been a busy year at OESH and we’ve been working hard on a new project that we hope to launch and talk about soon; a project that I know my mom would be especially proud of, but which I never had a chance to tell her about. Except for in my dreams.
Here is what I wrote:
“Unconditional love,” my mom used to say, “is the most important thing a mother can give to her child.”
That she gave and more and taught me to give the same to my own daughters. She was successful in making me strong and independent and to never feel like I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl.
I could talk to my mom about anything. And well after I achieved adulthood, I still relied upon her for advice. Should I be a doctor? What kind of a doctor? Should I leave academic medicine to build a shoe factory? Although super smart in ways that I am not (she was a brilliant school teacher and had an amazing understanding of the English language), my mother did not have much scientific experience, other than being married to my scientific genius father and typing his Chemistry PhD thesis. Nonetheless, she so very clearly understood my research and would often help me articulate its impact.
I remember my mom being much dismayed by the poor footwear choices for women. She would tell me about her own mother being physically disabled from wearing high-heeled shoes. And when I was five-years old, and my grandmother, who lived in New York, came to visit us in San Diego, I was struck with the fact that it was painful for her to walk.
Years later, when I discovered the biomechanical link between high-heeled shoes and knee osteoarthritis, I could hardly wait to come home to tell my mom about it. By that time, she was living with us, caring for our first daughter, Jayme, while I worked. My mom must have read to her nearly every minute of the day. She continued to live with us and did the same with our second and third daughters, Kellyn and Zoe. In so doing, my mom successfully passed on her love for books to our daughters.
My mom was always well ahead of her times and, all along, the sweetest person you could ever meet. She passed away seventy-two days ago on February 28, 2014, shortly after Jayme was accepted to Oxford to “read” English, and seventeen days before what would have been her 91st birthday. One of our dear friends said to me, “I know this time of reflection must be hard. A mother’s bond is the most elemental bond.” Indeed it is hard. Even though my mother had fairly severe dementia (such that we no longer could enjoy the conversations we used to have) for several years, she always knew who I was. And although she had difficulty recognizing objects, she always lit up when I showed her my latest OESH design. I loved giving her the very first pair of any new style we made just as much as she loved wearing them.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Mother’s Day or not, I love you always and forever.
In recognition of “pushing the boundaries of design and innovating in the industry,” I’m featured today in an article in Inventor Connections entitled “Fusion 360 Enables OESH to Take a Fresh Approach to Shoe Design.”
To access it, you need to register to become a member of InventorConnections.com here. However, if you are not into all things CAD (computer aided-design), know that it’s a nicely written article describing in detail what you already know by simply putting on a pair of OESH.
Here’s a screenshot of the intro:
Now, on an unrelated note but in follow up to Bob’s last post on our oldest, Jayme, winning the Oxford vs. Cambridge Varsity Lacrosse Match, here’s a picture of Kellyn (our second oldest), firing a shot into the goal in last week’s Charlottesville High School vs. Culpeper High School game. In her beloved Deep Wisterias.
And here’s another shot from today, of Kellyn and Jayme (who’s home for Spring Break) taking a lacrosse practice break with Marcia.
Their La Vidas are more than a year old and as much as I’d like to wash them, I appreciate that the dirt, which was not one of my intended design features, could be good luck.
We’re in Arlington, Virginia, presenting to the National Science Foundation who recently funded our work to track gait parameters inside of shoes. Below is our presenting team; Bill Hill, Brad Bennett, and me.
Our first Power Point slide was that of our research team (or at least a portion of our team) in the OESH Factory. Left to right: Jackey Gong, Shannon Wheeler, me, Brad Bennett, Shawn Russell and John Lach.
As is typical, everyone is wowed — with our science and with OESH. I’ve been alternating between wearing my Saguaro’s and the Rococco’s. Like at many of these events, I often find myself without shoes because someone asks if I can take them off to show them and before I know it, my La Vidas are being passed around the room. In the past, I’d bring an extra pair of OESH – one to wear and one to show. But I’ve learned that by only sharing the OESH that I’m wearing, I have a much better chance of getting them back.