Today we will be getting to know all about the Robotics Lead of the ERBOT $200,000 Prize Winner, Joel Edelstein! In this interview, he shares his first hand experience trying to make the world a better place using robotics!
What is the contest itself for?
The Department of Energy (D.O.E.) created the ERBOT prize contest in order to provide fresh ideas for energy efficiency. The general problem to be solved is to improve the heating and cooling of houses, etc to reduce the U.S. climate global carbon footprint hopefully by 2035.
Why did you decide to enter the contest?
"J.R. let me know about it! He knew I was interested in robotics and thought it would be a good idea to notify me about it." Joel remarked also how he has a construction company called TRIGLYPH LLC surrounding robotics.
And it was his heart's desire to fuse construction and robotics together into one project! He, alongside his business partner Peter Harding - who is specialized in panel systems - which Joel stated how important he is as well as very integral to the project as a whole!
What was your project about?
"We did Phase 1. We constructed a concept solution for a business plan. We chose their great, specifically detailed prototypes," he explained. "We look at A.I. specifically Deep Learning aspects."
How cool is that!
What gave you the inspiration to create what you did?
Joel's educated thought/concept of robotically removing cladding on the side of a building intrigued him enough.
"Sounds easy, but it isn't", he chuckled.
What is one of the many fun experiences you would like to share during your project's proposal journey?
Honestly, "many [large] organizations seem big and scary, even all powerful", he laughed. "But the D.O.E. has [surprisingly] been very friendly and open! The main objective is to help others."
Side note: "I come from the film industry and I'm a fellow Python programmer as well", he stated as I told him about my struggle learning experience with the Python/Data world.
Also as a sneak peak, Joel spoke about how he and Peter are working on Phase 2 by using linear cable bots, meaning making the actual robots and giving the mechanical ability to move! Phase 3 will be a trial run done on an actual building site in CT.
What computer software(s) do you use?
Ironically enough...Python! But not just that.
Joel says he interfaces Python with FEMM (Finite Element Method Magnetics) which he remarked is a "fantastic piece of software." Also using Rhino (powerful CAD software with awesome 90 day trial!) and Grasshopper (which is a visual programming language run inside Rhino and is used mostly in architecture).
Any shout-outs? (Meaning any people or organizations you'd like to especially recommend.)
Immediately, the first name that popped out of his mouth was, "J.R.!" Honestly without him, this stellar duo wouldn't have had this once in a lifetime opportunity!
But that's not all. He also thanked all the amazing people he has met through MakeHaven who are "developing ideas into reality".
Peter Harding, his team-mate, who brought great ideas and helped to deliver the solution to the challenge.
"Mary Hubbard, the Technology-to-Market Manager and her team." He couldn't stop marveling at how supportive her team had been!
The Department of Energy "went above and beyond" to make these challenges accessible to all!
Hero x (American Made Challenges) - "a lot of people have been helpful". [I've met many] "pleasant and interesting" people.
What did you do with the prize money?
"It is going directly to prototypes in phase 2," he stated. "I'm actually pushing my business projects back to focus on Phase 2. Supplies are hard to get!"
Got to be resourceful!
Will you enter again? If so, what future ideas do you have that you may build?
"Likely! We will see how phase 2 goes."
Would you recommend?
(For beginners, intermediate, or advanced?)
"Yes!" he exclaimed in an absolute manner.
But he did note that previous experience with technology accelerators would be "really helpful".
"You pay with time, not money," which is great for those who struggle in inner city areas with finding careers (i.e. careers not just jobs - a Cashier is a job but a Financial Advisor is a career for instance), but who have keen interest and curiosity for robotics.
"CT Next, Innovation Places is a good start."
How long did it take to finish the proposal with your team?
The timeline was from March to May 2021.
Surprisingly, Joel and Peter found out about the competition a little later than the other contestants! I guess when you snooze, you don't always lose!
Joel Edelstein's most prolific and altruistic statement made is noteworthy for everyone reading this article:
"There are new projects often! It's never too late to sign up!"
I couldn't have said it better myself!
So you heard it here first, folks! Not only will you possibly receive a cash prize, but you will learn new things from others and about yourself, build robotics as well as better communication skills in a team setting, and will get to meet amazing, supportive people along the way!
If you decide to sign up for a competitive, awesome project such as this, think about not just what you'll be getting out of it, but also the end goal - solving real world energy problems!
They need another bright mind like yours!
Interviewed & Written by: Robbin D. Benefield