Check out this story from Dr. Tony Grift regarding Brendan Kuhns, a graduate student working with the DIFM Project:
When Dr. Bullock mentioned the need to develop a retrofittable cotton yield monitor allowing our DIFM experiments to wander into uncharted (and often underdeveloped) territory, I jumped on the idea like a starved Chihuahua on a pork chop. The reason being that this is a perfect application of my own PhD work, which dealt with measuring the mass flow of granular fertilizer particles that are much smaller, and move much faster than cotton balls ever will (they are however nice and opaque, where cotton balls probably aren’t). So Brendan Kuhns and I sat down in my office and designed this thing out; we needed a fan to blow cotton balls around, some tubing, a cyclone separator and a laser based sensing arrangement, we knew how to do all this stuff. Since I have complete faith in Brendan’s technical capabilities, I let him do this thing and forgot about it for some weeks. Then one day, Brendan asked me to come look at his design. I expected some drawing of a portable prototype to illustrate the principle, but he took me across the courtyard and showed me this monster truck sized arrangement. I was amazed; here is a guy that wants to do the real thing! He did not build a model on a laptop or a little demo-unit, he built the genuine article! This is the kind of thing we used to do decades ago before cheap laptops turned us all into lazy concept pitchers.
Unfortunately for us, Brendan will start working for John Deere in June, but we need to keep his involvement in our project alive. Did I mention he also won a teaching award and that he is being nominated for a NACTA award too?
My plan is to retire early and let Brendan take over. To say it in French: Il est notre maître à tous.”
Thank you for sharing this story, Dr. Grift. We will truly miss Brendan come June!
And to Brendan, thank you for being part of the DIFM team.