JUNE 2014

Volume 9

NO.  6 



Holding on to Hope for Michigan's Motor City



The University Research Corridor and Michigan's 'Blue Economy'



Scientific American Features Article About FlexFoil by Dr. Sridhar Kota 















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Holding on to Hope for Michigan's Motor City


Political and private sector brokers traveled to Mackinac Island for the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference. One major talking point was collaboration in the city of Detroit. With recent discussions focusing on the city's bankruptcy and new plans for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) to shut off service for businesses and residents, the city needs help from anyone willing. There are CEOs, unions and government officials who are all working to finally make strides in the right direction. This is the kind of collaboration that the city hasn't seen in years.


Collaboration means progress for the Motor City. A February 27 report by the National Journal outlines the successes of Dan Gilbert, CEO of Quicken Loans. In 2010, Gilbert moved the headquarters to downtown Detroit and now controls 40 downtown properties, employs 12,000 individuals in the city and has installed a state-of-the-art surveillance system. To date, his investment totals $1.5 billion. Similarly, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan plans to invest $100 million in the city in the next 5 years and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein announced a $20 million small business lending program.


In addition to these CEOs, MLive notes that the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council is planning to make "material contributions" toward retiree health care as part of the city's Grand Bargain. Foundations and Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) benefactors have pledged a total of $466 million for this portion of the bankruptcy settlement.


After the Mackinac Policy Conference, Free Press columnist Tom Walsh spoke with Larry Eiler on Re:NEW Michigan on WLBY am 1290 and reiterated how optimistic most individuals are about the state of Detroit and the bankruptcy issue.  Walsh wrote about how much support Governor Rick Snyder showed for Mayor Mike Duggan at the Mackinac Conference. Snyder supports Duggan's plans to market Detroit and adds "We need to be louder and prouder about Detroit...We're not at the economic tipping point yet, where the world will realize the comeback of Michigan." The support of Democratic Mayor Duggan by Republican Governor Snyder is just one of the many positive outcomes of Mackinac.


Walsh also noted New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's support for Duggan's policies. After dealing with a similar issue after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Landrieu assures that Duggan's anti-nuisance statues and the support by city leaders can make positive long-term changes. He notes "you've got to find a solution and whether that takes you to the right or the left or the middle that's what you've got to do. I perceive that your Gov. Snyder and Mayor Duggan have adopted that approach." With two mayors, the Governor, and big businesses and CEOs collaborating for a better Detroit, it's hard not to feel optimistic.


Haley Garner



The University Research Corridor and Michigan's 'Blue Economy'


ANN ARBOR, MI-Michigan's University Research Corridor (URC) has been recognized for many great achievements such as contributing $16.6 billion to the state in 2012, the fact that the collective group graduated the highest number of medical students overall in 2012, or the creation of 163 start-up companies since 2002. However, according to a new report, the URC has been credited for "playing a major role in protecting the water resources of Michigan and the Great Lakes region." The resources are being used to encourage economic development in the state of Michigan but also globally. 


The URC is comprised of three major Michigan universities; Wayne State University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. According to the report, the three universities received roughly $300 million in awards between 2009-2013 for water related research and outreach. "Innovating for a Blue Economy" report says the awards were used in several different areas including water quality monitoring, ways to optimize water use in agriculture and ways to deal with invasive species.


The URC produces numerous graduates each year that ready to work on water related issues in government, the private sector and academia. More information on the URC and its graduates can be found in the August 2013 edition of the Eiler Newsletter.


Much of Michigan's economy depends on water. The Anderson Economic Group (AEG), based out of East Lansing, analyzes the impact of the URC over the last few years. Their analysis found that Michigan ranked fourth in the nation in the percentage of jobs associated with industries related to water, at 718,700 jobs. To reemphasize that number, AEG founder and CEO, Patrick Anderson said, "one and five Michigan jobs is tied to having good and plentiful water."


The URC continues to make an impact on Michigan's water resources as well as collaborating with groups around the world. The corridor will continue to study and analyze the state's most precious resource. "We are fortunate to be surrounded by the greatest body of fresh water in the world with a fifth of the world's freshwater supply at our fingertips," said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson. "The URC is working hard to make sure that water is an economic resource not only for today but for future generations of Michigan residents."


Katie Joly  

Scientific American Features Article About FlexFoil by Dr. Sridhar Kota


Flexible machines that can morph into different shapes is the topic of a significant new article in the May issue of Scientific American by Dr. Sridhar Kota, Herrick Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan and founder of FlexSys Inc. of Ann Arbor.


The Scientific American article chronicles the development of the elastic, or compliant design technology and initial application of it toward the long-sought elusive goal of practical, seamless control airplane surface technologies. Sought by the defense and commercial aviation industries and researchers for several decades, the technology is being realized with the introduction of a variable geometry airfoil, called FlexFoil, by FlexSys in its work with the U. S. Air Force and more recently, NASA.


The elastic design is an engineering approach that embraces flexibility as opposed to rigidity by distributing loads across deformable elements to drastically reduce part count while providing mechanical functions (joint-less mechanisms) including shape-morphing.


The FlexFoil replaces jointed wing flaps with a deformable, seamless surface that changes shape for optimized performance throughout the flight regime, thus saving jet fuel.


Changing the shape of a modern aircraft's wing in flight has been an elusive goal. Unlike the earlier iterations, which suffered from complexities with the actuators and problems of heavyweight componentry, the FlexFoil control surface technology employed a new approach, called distributed compliance, to achieve practical variable geometry wings - lightweight, reliable and cost effective.


Flexsys is working to tell the story of the technology and the initial application of the FlexFoil, a morphable airplane wing for which initial flight tests are scheduled this summer.


Larry Eiler 


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