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Tin soldiers and Nixon coming December 6, 2019

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Air Force One sits on the tarmac at the Fort Smith Municipal Airport on December 6, 1969; Winthrop Rockefeller (white hat in left photo), and Richard Nixon shook hands with the crowd before departing for Fayetteville.

On December 6, 1969, President Richard Nixon flew into Fort Smith, Ark., on Air Force One as he traveled to Fayetteville and the “Game of the Century” between the Arkansas Razorback and Texas Longhorns.

That makes today a huge personal anniversary for me.

I was among the approximately 2,000 people who greeted Nixon at the airport 50 years ago today. I was 16 and living in Fort Smith with my mom and sister while my dad served a tour of duty in Vietnam.

But I wasn’t there to protest the war. I was there to see history in the person of a sitting President arrive in Fort Smith, no matter how brief the visit.

I borrowed my mom’s car and drove out to the airport a full two hours before Air Force One arrived and snagged a great spot by the rope barrier that had been set up. Security was pretty light. No one frisked us or questioned us as we ran onto the tarmac area in an attempt to beat the crowd to the best viewing spot.

When Nixon finally arrived, I don’t remember any actual remarks, although there was a podium set up. But I do remember that he came down the line of people along the rope to shake our hands. He was accompanied by Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller (white cowboy hat in left photo above).

When the President got about two people from me, someone apparently suggested that it was time to board the helicopter that would complete the trip to Fayetteville. Nixon turned away and took a step toward the waiting helicopter. The crowd let out a collective groan, and the President immediately turned back and resumed shaking our hands (mine, too!). He continued shaking hands down to the high school bands that were playing, where he shook hands with some of the young musicians.

It was a highlight of my youth, despite the fact that Nixon turned out to be, well, Richard Nixon. Watergate and the corruption of his administration surfaced years later.

Two memories stand out from that day.

One was shaking the President’s hand.

The second memory occurred before Nixon arrived. A guy holding a small Instamatic-type camera climbed on top of one of the barrels set up to hold the rope barricade and immediately drew sharp reprimands from the security detail. The camera guy was incensed as he climbed down, and yelled “come the revolution, you’re going to get yours!”

It was a sign of the times, even in a small Southern city like Fort Smith.

OU showcases Stephenson Cancer Center at End2Cancer conference December 3, 2019

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A scientists presents his findings at the End2Cancer conference at the Samis Education Center on the OU Health Center campus

By Jim Stafford

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the NCI-Designated Stephenson Cancer Center delivered an academic doubleheader for about 200 cancer research scientists at the recent 2019 END2Cancer conference at the Samis Education Center on the Health Center campus.

For the main event, scientists came to share their research or hear presentations given by counterparts from across the country who are pursuing breakthrough discoveries in the area of cancer treatment. At the two-day conference, the scientists focused on emerging nanotechnology and cancer drug delivery applications.

At the same time, OU showcased its renowned Stephenson Cancer Center on the Health Sciences Center campus, said Rajagopal Ramesh, Ph.D., conference chair and professor, Department of Pathology at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.

“The whole idea in organizing this conference for the third consecutive year – beyond the science – was to put Oklahoma on the map and have the Stephenson Cancer Center recognized for the great science that we do in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” Ramesh said. “We have eminent speakers coming in from all over the country, and the majority of them have never been to the state of Oklahoma or to the Stephenson Cancer Center.”

The NCI-Designated Stephenson Cancer Center ranks in the top 50 in the nation for cancer care in the 2019-2010 U.S. News & World Report ranking and currently ranks No. 1 among all cancer centers in the nation for the number of patients participating in clinical trials.

“They were highly impressed,” Ramesh said. “The first thing I hear when they come in is ‘Wow, I never knew such an outstanding cancer center with top-notch research infrastructure exists.’ We wanted them to come in and have the opportunity to go to the Stephenson Cancer Center and look at some of the cutting-edge clinical trials we are doing at the center.”

Ramesh pursues his own cutting-edge research at the Stephenson Cancer Center, developing nanoparticles that can deliver drugs specifically to tumors and minimize the toxicity that is often a cancer treatment side effect. He specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

Ramesh recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to explore a means by which tumor cells may be avoiding immunotherapy in lung cancer. The study is unique in that it is being conducted on lung cancer patients in real time while they are on a clinical trial receiving an immunotherapy medication.

The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) also supports Ramesh’s lung cancer research with a $135,000 Health Research grant.

“OCAST has been beneficial not only to my lab but across the entire state of Oklahoma,” Ramesh said. “The whole idea of OCAST is to bridge the transition from academic research to an industry setting in the state of Oklahoma. By receiving funds from OCAST, we are able to generate new ideas and test them first in the lab.”

Wei Chen, Ph.D., professor and dean of the College of Mathematics and Sciences at the University of Central Oklahoma, is another OCAST-supported scientist who moderated an END2Cancer panel discussion and presented findings from his own nanotech-based research at the conference.

“Ending cancer is everybody’s dream,” Chen said. “So everybody in this conference and many researchers around the world are contributing to the fight against cancer. We are making good inroads both in terms of nanotechnology and other methodologies. But cancer is a very tough enemy, as we know. Therefore, we still have a long way to go.”

Jim Stafford writes about Oklahoma innovation and research and development topics on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST).

Gear from Ada plant protects Oklahoma City firefighters and their counterparts across the globe November 18, 2019

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Globe Manufacturing plant manager Jannette Orr shows off a firefighters jacket under construction for the Oklahoma City Fire Department

Editor’s note: I recently traveled to Ada with my friends at the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, where we had the opportunity to tour a plant that makes “turnout” gear for firefighters across the world.  This is my report:

By Jim Stafford

ADA – Jannette Orr stood on MSA’s Globe turnout gear manufacturing floor in Ada and held up a firefighter coat that was under construction at the plant.

Bright yellow letters on the back read “OKLA CITY.”

Globe’s Ada plant and its 48 employees are producing 510 sets of three-layer firefighter jackets and pants for the Oklahoma City Fire Department, said Roger Page, Operations Manager for Globe’s three production facilities in Ada, Okla., Pittsfield, N.H. and Auburn, Maine.

“Recently, we reacquired the Oklahoma City contract,” Page said as he led me and colleagues from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) on a tour of the Ada production plant.

“Oklahoma City had previously been in our gear, and we’re excited to have them back,” he said.

Globe was founded in 1887 as a family-owned producer of protective clothing for firefighters and headquartered in Pittsfield, N.H. It was acquired in July 2017 by MSA Safety Inc., a publicly traded corporation headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Globe opened the Ada plant almost 16 years ago.

“We were having a really hard time hiring enough workers in the Pittsfield area, and we learned that Wrangler was leaving this area and had a very similar weight of fabric to that which we use,” said Page, who has worked for Globe for 36 years. “We decided to explore this area, and the Ada Jobs Foundation did a great job, almost recruiting us.”

Coalgate native Orr was among the former Wrangler employees who migrated to Globe, starting on the production floor as a stitcher. Today she is the plant manager, and personally trains new hires on the complexities of running sophisticated machinery.”

“Our workforce here is doing great,” Orr said. “We try to start them off on the right track. They work hard and steady. We make sure they have good benefits, because the employees here are like family.”

Globe uses what is known as the Toyota Sewing System in Ada to assemble the firefighter suits. It’s a manufacturing philosophy that began in Japan and moves each garment from station to station.

“As you look around the facility here, everything is done in single piece flow, with standup operations and more machines than there are people because they bump their operations as they go through the cell,” Page said. “It makes the operations a lot more flexible, and the workers aren’t stuck in one spot doing the same thing all day.”

Globe produces two of its seven styles of “turnout gear” or “bunker gear” – insider speak for firefighter protective apparel – at the Ada plant. Each firefighter garment has three layers that consist of an outer shell, a thermal liner and a moisture barrier.

“We have a host of options that can go on those base garments,” Page said. “For example, we have over 400 different sizes of radio pockets alone.”

Globe’s operation has benefited by a relationship with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, which is a partner with OCAST in the Oklahoma Innovation Model that provides assistance to small manufacturers and new ventures across the state.

“I’m just really impressed with the amount of effort that Oklahoma puts into supporting manufacturers, whether it’s the Ada Jobs Foundation, the Pontotoc Technology Center training center or the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance,” Page said. “All of that is phenomenal.”

In addition to Oklahoma City, Globe produces garments for firefighters in numerous other Oklahoma communities. Ada’s proximity to Oklahoma City afforded the city’s fire department an opportunity to eyeball their equipment under construction, Page said.

“It’s only fitting to be able to produce Oklahoma City’s firefighting gear an hour and a half away here in Ada,” he said. “They are excited to come down and watch their gear being built and meet the people building it.”

Jim Stafford writes about Oklahoma innovation and research and development topics on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST).

Don’t criticize me! Steve Jobs shows how to respond to criticism November 12, 2019

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I’ve never responded particularly well to criticism.  I tend to have an instant reaction and lash out at the person providing the critique with words that I regret.  It’s something that I’m aware of and have to guard against constantly.

But it seems that I never handle it as well as I should. Call it a character flaw (among many).

Anyway, I saw this clip of Steve Jobs responding to an insulting question from an audience member at a 1997 developers conference. The guy wanted to show that Jobs didn’t know what he was talking about as far as software programming, along with a second question on what he had been doing the past seven years.

Jobs’ response blows me away. Instead of becoming angry and hurling an insult back at the guy (as I almost certainly would have), he sat and thought for several seconds. You can see that the wheels are turning as he formulates his answer and responds initially with a cliche about pleasing some of the people some of the time.  His long answer actually provided insight into why Apple developed products as it did.

Finally, he responds directly to the insult by admitting that he sometimes doesn’t know what he’s talking about and that mistakes will be made. At least someone is making some decisions for the company, he told the audience.  

Jobs’ response seems heartfelt and honest. It’s something I hope I can emulate in the future.  

I invite you to click on the video and watch Jobs respond to the insult.  I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.

 

A salute to our veterans and the Veterans Day Parade November 11, 2019

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The Purple Heart recipients float at the Fort Chaffee Veterans Day parade

My dad was a small town Southern boy from western Arkansas who built a successful career in the U.S. Army across three decades. As I understand the story, it began when he quit high school in the late 1940s and joined the Army.

For that, he earned a tour of duty in Alaska. But he missed a girl from back home in Booneville, Ark., and mustered out when his commitment was up.

He returned to Arkansas, married the girl and had a child – me – within a year. But running the local gas station wasn’t enough to support a family, so he re-upped in the Army.

This tour lasted until he retired from the military in 1976 and included assignments in Korea, Okinawa and 1969 Vietnam along the way.

I provide all that background because I was over in Fort Smith this past weekend to visit my widowed Mom. She told me she wanted to go to the annual Veterans Day parade at Ft. Chaffee that began at noon on Saturday.

The crowd lines the Veterans Day Parade route

I said ‘sure,’ although without any real enthusiasm or expectations. We picked up my niece, Katy, and headed out to Chaffee, most of which is now known as Chaffee Crossing and under development by the city of Fort Smith.

We found a place to park and walked to what turned out to be sort of Parade Central, which was right outside the military barbershop where Elvis received his haircut as he was inducted into the Army. It’s now a pretty fascinating little museum, which we toured.

For me, the interesting thing about the parade, which lasted about an hour, was watching the crowd and how the veterans among us reacted when various elements marched by. Local Junior ROTC troops marched by carrying American flags, and the vets snapped to attention.

My Mom watches the Veterans Day Parade.

Those marching in the parade were quick to say “thank you” to the veterans they recognized along the way who were wearing caps or other insignia that identified them as such.

It was a feel good event for both participants and onlookers, punctuated by a large group of motorcyclists who brought up the rear of the parade, came to a halt and dismounted as we watched. The leader commanded us to turn our attention the America flag behind us and led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Turned out, I enjoyed the parade and the people watching. I was so happy that I got to take my mom to see it, even if she decided that it wasn’t as long as the previous parade she attended two years ago. (“There were so many more antique cars in the last parade,” she told me.)

So, to Master Sergeant Archie A.J. Stafford and all your fellow veterans, I salute you and your incredible sacrifice for this country.

OCAST Health Research Conference puts focus on negotiating regulatory pathway to market October 23, 2019

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Dan Clark, cofounder and president of Linear Health Sciences speaks to the recent OCAST Health Research Conference

Editor’s note: I attended the 32nd  OCAST Health Research conference at the Samis Education Center on the Oklahoma Health Center campus, and heard a presentation on negotiating the regulatory pathway for a life science device company. Here’s my report:

By Jim Stafford

Once a year, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) gathers scientists from across the state who are currently receiving funding from its health research program in a sort of show-and-tell educational event.

Recently, about 100 OCAST-funded life science researchers assembled at the Samis Family Education Center on the Oklahoma Health Center campus for OCAST’s 32nd Health Research Conference. The event featured a keynote presentation from Dan Clark, president of Oklahoma City-based Linear Health Sciences.

Co-founded by Clark and Oklahoma City physician Ryan Dennis, Linear Health Sciences developed a patented device known as the Orchid Safety Release Valve (SRV), which prevents dislodgement of IV catheters in hospitalized patients. It is estimated that approximately 14 percent of all IV catheters are accidentally dislodged, which requires re-sticking patients and creates higher risks of infection.

“Our device is designed to mitigate that,” Clark said. “The concept is quite simple. If you’ve ever seen someone drive away from a gas station with the hose still in the car, the hose rips away from the terminal, but no gas is spewing from the terminal and no gas is coming out of the car.

“We did the same thing, but we did it for your veins.”

The Orchid Safety Release Valve has drawn interest from both potential hospital users and investors alike.

Linear Health Sciences attracted early seed investment from i2E Inc., a partner with OCAST in what has come to be known as the Oklahoma Innovation Model of supporting entrepreneurs and innovation across the state.

“We see a really big opportunity here,” said Carol Curtis, i2E’s vice president and director of investments. “If we can improve patient outcomes through the device, but also capture a good portion of the market, it’s a win for investors as well as patients, physicians and the health care system.”

Clark’s presentation to his audience of scientists focused on how Linear Health’s founders learned from their experiences as they negotiated the challenging regulatory pathway.

“The context of our device is not difficult to understand, but to put it into practice, all the way from design inputs and strategy to validating those inputs to traceability across all the different elements, that was tough,” he said. “We became students again.”

Linear Health has submitted what is known as a 510(K) application to the Food and Drug Administration, which is a premarket submission to demonstrate that its device is safe and effective. The company is relying on the expertise of contracted outside experts to help it navigate the regulatory challenges of advancing its medical device.

Clark’s advice to his audience of scientists hoping to advance their own concepts centered on utilizing contractors and external resources to manage the regulatory challenges that will confront them and shape their decisions.

“While you are designing your own experiments, your regulatory path is going to dictate what experiments and what understanding of methodologies is required to get there,” he said.

Clark said Linear Health anticipates FDA regulatory clearance of its device early next year, after which the Orchid Release Safety Valve should soon reach early adopters waiting to put it to use.

Jim Stafford writes about Oklahoma innovation and research and development topics on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST).

Oka’ Water Sustainability Conference explores economic value of H2O October 22, 2019

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From left: Ken Wagner, State Environment Sec.; Speaker of the House Charles McCall; & Brent Kisling, Exec. Director of OK Dept. of Commerce. ⁦

By Jim Stafford

Editor’s note: I recently attended the Oka’ Water Sustainability Conference at the invitation of my friends at the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). Here is what I learned from the conference:

ADA – At the recent 2019 Oka’ Water Sustainability Conference here on the campus of East Central University, the economic value of water bubbled to the surface.

Water is an economic driver for the state of Oklahoma, said Susan Paddack, executive director Oka’, the Water Institute at East Center University, which presented the fourth annual Sustainability Conference.

“We talk about quality and we talk about the quantity, but we don’t often talk about the value of water,” Paddack said. “When you think about water, it is either an economic stimulator or it is a limiter. We cannot grow or prosper as a state or rural communities and water districts if we don’t have a sustainable water future.”

Oka’ is the Chickasaw word for water, and the Oka’ Institute was created in 2016 with support from the Chickasaw Nation, the Ada Jobs Foundation and the City of Ada.

The conference focused on innovators and technologies that are creating new ways to remediate and recycle polluted water, the importance of soil health and ways to protect key water resources such as the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer and Blue River.

But this year’s conference also tackled the issue of Water as an Economic Driver with a panel discussion that featured a trio of state legislative, environmental and economic development leaders brought their perspectives to the topic.

Katricia Pierson, Ph.D., East Central University president, moderated the panel, which featured Ken Wagner, State Environment Sec.; Speaker of the House Charles McCall; & Brent Kisling, Exec. Director of OK Dept. of Commerce.

“If you don’t recognize water as the most valuable resources we have in this state, you need to reconsider your position,” McCall told the audience. “Water will always be an economic driver in the sate of Oklahoma. We have been very blessed with it and we have to be very careful not to squander it.”

Kisling hails from the northwest Oklahoma community of Burlington, an area of the state where the scarcity of rainfall makes water conservation a critical ongoing issue. As the former economic development director of the city of Enid, he organized a consortium of neighboring communities to tackle water issues through a coordinated water plan.

“We have to all work together, especially in a watershed, to make sure we are maintaining our water resources on the quantity side and on the quality side,” Kisling said. “Now there is a consortium of major water users that communicate each month about what’s going on with water in the northwest part of the state.”

Wagner plays a key role in setting policy that ensures the protection of water resources throughout the state, while meeting the water consumption needs of people and businesses alike.

“We have to balance, how do we protect the resource but help these communities sustain their way of life, from creating jobs to ensuring the recreational capacity, making sure that fish and wildlife can thrive, protecting our scenic rivers, protecting our aquifers,” Wagner said, “knowing all the while that we all need water to sustain life.”

The conference was highlighted by a keynote speech by Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, who described the Oka’ Institute as “real positive development” to water sustainability in the south central Oklahoma region.

“The Oka’ Institute has a deep understanding that water issues affect us all and that it will take us all working together to develop viable, long-term solutions to water sustainability,” Anoatubby said. “Health and sustainability of our water is vital to everyone’s future and reasons to work together for the benefit of all.”

Jim Stafford writes about Oklahoma innovation and research and development topics on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST).

Oklahoma’s Saab story: a prophecy fulfilled October 8, 2019

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I hope you saw this story in Monday’s editions of The Oklahoman about the Saab Group, a Swedish Aerospace firm, reportedly passing on Oklahoma as the location to build a new military trainer jet because of workforce concerns.

If you didn’t read it, click this link to catch you up to date: 

The reporting by Oklahoman reporter Dale Denwalt made the words of Oklahoma City businessman Phil Busey seem almost prophetic. The story quoted State Sen. Adam Pugh, who said that the Saab Group decided it would not be able to find enough skilled workers to sustain its workforce at an Oklahoma location.

Saab reportedly wanted to know if it could find people to work at the plant. ‘In the end, they decided they couldn’t, and so they’re taking their business somewhere else,’ state Sen. Adam Pugh told members of Leadership Oklahoma at a recent aerospace forum.

Busey is founder and CEO of a company called Delaware Resource Group (DRG), minority-owned aerospace industry federal defense contractor. DRG employs upwards of 700 people, including software engineers, worldwide who support contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as major aerospace companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Mr. Busey along with Debbie Cox, my colleague from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). Our interview was the basis for an OCAST video and a column I wrote on behalf of the agency. You can read it and watch the video interview here. 

We were surprised by the urgency that Busey showed in advocating for an improvement in public education and workforce development across our state.

Phil Busey

“Our challenges really come back to the issues of workforce development,” Busey told us. “Public education is the No. 1 challenging issue we see here in Oklahoma.”

Thousands of aerospace positions in the state remain unfilled because there aren’t enough Oklahomans equipped with STEM skills – science, technology, education and mathematics, Busey said.

That means that we need to build a deeper pool of young Oklahomans equipped with STEM skills that are critical to the sustainability of the state’s aerospace industry.

But it goes beyond workforce development, he said. It’s also about the image of our state that is reflected in legislation like the recent open carry law that allows virtually anyone in Oklahoma to carry a gun without a license or shooter education.

“The challenge is that we are having to rebrand ourselves,” Busey said. “The social legislation issues, the open carry issues and the public education issues all have to be addressed. Because people really don’t understand who we are … We have to talk to them about what our culture is really like, who we are, what kind of values we have, that we are inclusive, that we have all types of development going on with MAPS and the successes we have had downtown.”

The bottom line is that there are currently between 1,500 and 2,000 open positions here in Oklahoma in the high paying aerospace industry. We have to fill that pipeline.

Busey has organized his own working group of community, education and business leaders to brainstorm ways to enhance Oklahoma’s workforce development and improve our image.

“We’re trying to develop pipelines with our universities,” Busey said. “And then be able to talk with people who we need to recruit from outside Oklahoma that it is a good place to live. We all don’t walk around with 45s on our hips. Public education, we have to do something to improve that. It is a deal breaker.”

What is Blockchain for Business? OKC conference provides some context September 24, 2019

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Alan Dickman, IBM Blockchain Architect, delivers a primer on Blockchain for Business to an audience of OKC business leaders.

Editor’s note: I was invited by my friends at OCAST to attend the recent Blockchain for Business conference here in OKC. This is what I wrote about the experience and what I learned from the event about a subject that I know very little about.

By Jim Stafford

There is a huge gulf between the emerging blockchain-for-business technology and the cryptocurrency world, a group of 150 Oklahoma business leaders learned at the recent Blockchain for Business conference at the Baker Hughes/GE Energy Innovation Center.

The blockchain primer delivered to the Oklahoma audience by Alan Dickman, IBM Blockchain Architect, contrasted the two computing networks that are often confused for one another.

“Blockchain is really just a shared, distributed ledger that helps record transactions,” Dickman said in his keynote presentation. “Blockchain facilitates business processes that are shared among a network that is using the same ledger.”

What blockchain-for-business is not is a giant, worldwide computing network that requires every member of the network, or peer, to update their blockchain file with each transaction, Dickman said.

“That sounds like Bitcoin, where there are lots and lots of peers around the world, and what you are doing is updating each ledger,” he said. “Only a small number of blockchains have that infrastructure.”

Blockchain-for-business can limit the number of peers, and requires that each participant be identified and invited to the network. Transactions are recorded as an “immutable” record that can never be altered.

In contrast, Cryptocurrency networks are known as “permission-less,” which means that participation is unlimited. Participants can remain anonymous. The “permission-less” networks can grow unwieldy and consume large amounts of energy as each transaction is updated.

“You can have permission blockchains where you put up your own private networks,” Dickman said. “So, it depends on the use case and depends on the technology and whether you are using a permission or permission-less blockchain.”

The Blockchain for Business conference was presented by OG&E and IBM, with support from the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber; the Oklahoma Department of Commerce; the Oklahoma City Innovation District; the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST); the Tom Love Innovation Hub at the University of Oklahoma; Baker Hughes, a GE Company, the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance; Zilker Technology LLC.; and the Energy Web Foundation.

“From OG&E’s perspective, the business purpose of this conference was two-fold,” said Richard Cornelison, economic development manager for OG&E. “We wanted to bring a better understanding of technology, and ways to communicate to the communities we serve and into the companies we serve.”

The conference featured breakout sessions for energy industry users, government, health care and supply chain, and oil and gas.

“Blockchain is one of those emerging, potentially enabling technologies that has the capability of impacting our economy,” said Mark Ballard, programs officer with OCAST. “We’re interested in this technology because it can give businesses another opportunity to compete more effectively in the economy.”

Jim Stafford writes about Oklahoma innovation and research and development topics on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST).

Plumbing the limits of home repair Sticker Shock September 11, 2019

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The Hi-Tech Plumbing & Leak Detect truck parked in front of my house is a familiar site.

We had Hi-Tech Plumbing & Leak Detect out at our house (again) today to replace our kitchen sink and faucet, as well as repair a leak in the drain beneath the sink.  I almost choked when they told me what the cost would be to do the work.  

But I told them to go ahead, because, well, what else are we going to do?

We’ve had Hi-Tech out many times over the years, in part because of the awful polybutylene piping used on this house when it was built in 1989.  We sprang so many leaks over the years that we finally had all the hot-water run through the attic, bypassing the polybutylene pipes beneath the foundation. 

We used Hi-Tech on that project, of course, and it cost several thousand dollars.  Same thing on a recent hot water heater install.

You might ask why I keep going back to Hi-Tech if they are so expensive.  The reason is that we know that they will do a thorough job with nothing left incomplete.  Not once have we had to call them back out to redo a job.   

But the price we pay is still so embarrassingly high. While I do have confidence in Hi-Tech, I feel as though I’m being ripped off in the process. 

I think it’s called buyer’s remorse.

My question for readers is what has been your experience with plumbers and what are my alternatives for future issues?