By Al Cervero
AEM Vice President
Construction, Mining & Utility

Help from the government? That’s the last thing you’d ever expect to hear from me!

The line gets a few laughs (and maybe some groans) when used as a joke by government officials before they start a presentation. But there are some sources of government help, given patience and an open mind, that are worth the effort.

Recently, Penn State University and the University of Illinois reached out to us seeking crane manufacturers to collaborate with them on a new project focused on the safety of construction workers on job sites. They had recently been awarded a National Science Foundation grant. One of our members responded to our outreach and now  plays an advisory role on the project as an industry expert.

We also supported another university consortium with the National Fluid Power Association and again had success. The consortium, along with several fluid power component manufacturers, will display a working 3D-printed excavator at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 in Las Vegas and that represents another in process.

In November, I attended the first-ever SpaceCom in Houston. Why? Searching for the next opportunity in data, processes, or products or – more probable – a speaker for our 2016 annual conference.

Mission accomplished. Not only did I learn a lot about the commercialization of space, but I have three conversations going about providing information to members attending the AEM Annual Conference in Santa Barbara this coming November 16-18. 

  •         One conversation focused on technology that is slated for commerce in 2019, and may eclipse drones as data collectors. 
  •         Another involved NASA and their technology transfer program. More to come on how to leverage NASA research at the annual conference.
  •         The third discussion involved the commercialization of the International Space Station and grants available for companies or organizations interested in pre-competitive research. We hope to provide names and processes to harness some of the technology or research capabilities which you may have thought were untouchable but really are at your fingertips. 

Bottom line, keep your ears open, don't shrug off messages on free research/grants to only look for help outside the box. AEM in the past decade has won two grants worth $400,000 each to help members export products. You are still enjoying two of the services, the opening of our Beijing office and some of the support for Latin America, all born from market-cooperative grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

We will work to help you to continue to leverage AEM anywhere we can find additional tools to move your business forward. Stay tuned. The final frontier is yours for the taking.