Reflections On & Presentations From Smart Manufacturing Conference at Boise State

Steve Hatten kicks off the Smart Manufacturing Workshop at Boise State on September 5, 2018.

by Steve Hatten
Executive Director of TechHelp, Idaho’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center

TechHelp was thrilled to work with Intel and NexCOBOT to bring the Smart Manufacturing Workshop to Boise State on September 5.  We were amazed that over 150 people registered for the event on short notice. Attendees included international, national and regional manufacturing companies, consultants, robotics and automation designers and system integrators, and representatives from manufacturing associations, not-for-profits, state and federal governments, universities and community colleges, and partners from Taiwan and others.

TechHelp is a partnership of Boise State, the University of Idaho and Idaho State University and is Idaho’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center. As MEP celebrates its 30th Anniversary, Centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico are grappling with the question of how we can we help manufacturers learn about and adopt practical Industry 4.0 technologies? I hoped that this event would stimulate more thinking and more conversations about how each us will participate in, make decisions about and help to implement new technologies in our homes, communities, and places of work.  I hope attendees left the event with ideas on how we might work together to more effectively make these changes happen.

When I discussed this event with a friend, who runs another MEP center, he quoted Dan Ammann, president of General Motors, who stated, “We will see more change (in the automotive industry) in the next five years than there’s been in the last 50”. Five decades ago, in 1968, things were very different in manufacturing in Idaho and in the U.S.  How much will your business and your life change in the next 5 years?

Important to Dan Ammann’s point is not just the development of self-driving vehicles, but also the shift in consumer behavior from car ownership to ride sharing.  He noted that though cars spend only about 5% of their time on the road, the opportunity cost of driving increases as people must dedicate time to driving that could be used performing tasks on a mobile device.  Ammann said that as people drive less, consumers will gradually turn to ride-sharing and ride-hailing services.

In the US, drivers are generally skeptical of driverless technology. How are we going to be convinced of the relative safety of self-driving cars compared with human drivers such that we will eventually embrace the technology?  Ammann said. “Driverless technology should be fundamentally safer than human drivers given the very high percentage of car accidents that are caused by human error”. He also said. “Driverless cars don’t drink.”

Steve Hatten watches as a NexCOBOT signs his notebook.

The takeaway for me in Amman’s message is how critical our decisions are to the rate of adoption of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality, big data, machine learning, mobile computing, autonomous robots, and 3D printing (aka all things Industry 4.0).  Will we introduce these technologies piecemeal? How might we get the full value out of a combined approach? Which technologies can be combined to get more benefit in our industry sector, in our company, with our products…and within our culture? I hope our workshop and future events will help each person make progress on these questions for your company,  your people and yourself.

Earlier in 2018, Boise State started a conversation with a number of groups about how we might build on the existing elements of a regional Robotics, Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things ecosystem.  There was a lot of interest in this exciting (and very complex) topic. At that meeting, several groups from Taiwan presented on the idea of a robotics lab in Boise. Over the next few months, the details were ironed out. In June of 2018, the  Boise State College of Engineering partnered with NexCOBOT to place four collaborative robots in the Robot Control Lab, under the direction of Boise State ME Professor Aykut Satici.

Thanks in large part to Micron Technology, the State of Idaho has enjoyed a long and strong relationship with Taiwan. Today, Micron is the single largest foreign investor in Taiwan and Taiwan is Idaho’s third largest trading partner.  Boise State’s College of Business and Economics and College of Engineering recently established student exchange programs with Taiwanese Universities. Boise State College of Business & Economics students, Rhett Suciu and Lucas Swope, recently returned from Taiwan after completing internships with Nexcom and helped create the Smart Manufacturing Workshop. Their combined Knowledge of Industry 4.0 and on the ground experience working in Taiwan for Nexcom International is a great example of how we can prepare for an Industry 4.0 future.

During the Workshop, we heard from brilliant speakers about market trends and strategy applications for collaborative robots, industrial automation, the Internet of Things and other cutting-edge technologies. We provided links to the presentations below so you can take time to explore the important information delivered during the Smart Manufacturing Workshop.

View our Picture Story of the event here.

Click links below to view Workshop Presentations.

Topic & Slides Presenter & Slides  Presenter Background
NexCOBOT Market Trends and Strategy Application Jenny Shern


General Manager, NexCOBOT

Jenny Shern has over 15 years of experience in business development, marketing, and project management in the industrial and embedded computing space, and has extensively built ecosystem partnerships in robotics, industrial and retail IoT.
The Future of Manufacturing is Now Chetan Gadgil, Director,
Intel IoT Channels & Ecosystem
Chetan Gadgil is a technology geek, obsessed with simplifying cutting-edge technology for commercial use. He gets to do this every day at Intel as Director, leading the Intel® IoT RFP Ready Kits. He thinks that Intel® has the world’s best ecosystem partners who tirelessly work with Intel to deliver these scalable enterprise-grade kits. Chetan has a B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from IIT BHU, India and an MBA from NYU Stern, London School of Economics and HEC, Paris. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area, with his family.
The Idaho Robotics/Automation/AIoT Ecosystem, Manufacturing Market Trends Steve Hatten,
Executive Director of TechHelp
Steve Hatten is the Executive Director of TechHelp based at Boise State University. Steve worked with hundreds of companies as a Manufacturing Specialist and the New Product Development Manager for TechHelp since 2000. Steve is a mechanical and manufacturing systems engineer with a range of experience in engineering and manufacturing environments. After completing his Master’s Degree at Stanford, he worked 13 years in the aerospace industry where he developed skills in mechanical design, design for manufacturability and manufacturing process improvement.
Industry Internet of Things (IoT) Connectivity Bob Chen,


Vice President, NEXCOM

Over 20 years’ experience on Software Development Executive in development and technical management roles.
As a department head, fully technical know-how for software development of industrial 4.0 and Cloud solution.
Fully experience in software teams and manage over 100 engineers, to serve all the digital/ smart TV international companies.
Acquire more than 80 patents in past 15 years.
NexCOBOT Technology & Solutions Weihan Wang


Robotic Product Manager, NexCOBOT

Software development with over 10 years of experience in industrial automation, especially in industrial robot controller system. Summary of Skills:
Industrial robot controller system design, Robotics, Motion Planning, EtherCAT, Robot CAD/CAM
Intel Industrial Technology & Solutions Jeffrey Jackson


Sr. Principal Engineer & Technical Solution Specialist,

Industrial IoT Sales Group

Jeff Jackson is a Sr. Principal Engineer at Intel working in the Internet of Things (IoTG) Sales organization as a Technical Solutions Specialist. He spent the past 4 years at Intel in various IoT technical leadership roles related to end-to-end solution architecture, technology development, and IoT solution development with Intel ecosystem partners. Recently, Jeff has been working with Industrial OEM and ODM’s on the next generation of edge computing referred to as
Software Defined Industrial Systems.
Jeff brings over 25 years of experience in systems engineering, solutions architecture, solutions sale & amp; technology development. Before coming to Intel in Jan 2013, Jeff worked at Cisco Systems, Starent Networks, AT&T Wireless, and Sandia National Labs.
Boise State Robotics Curriculum Introduction Professor Aykut Satici, Boise State College of Engineering Aykut is an assistant professor in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Boise State University, directing the Robot Control Laboratory (RCL). He holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from the University of Texas at Dallas and a M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Mechatronics Engineering from Sabanci University. He was a postdoctoral associate at the PRISMA Lab of University of Naples Federico II and the Robot Locomotion Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016.