Massive, world-altering problems are always ahead for humanity. It may seem like today’s challenges are insurmountable, but in reality, these are just the challenges of the moment. I believe that bigger problems only lead to bigger solutions. Humans are incredibly adept and constantly figure out new ways to thrive and push our world forward.
What is less known, is that the American Heartland is, and always has been, at the core component of innovative solutions. From the development of medicines, engineering systems and the production of alternative energy sources, cities like Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Denver have contributed to making our world a better place.
Between 1948 and 1955, Polio was a growing epidemic around the world. Many families were avoiding crowds, staying indoors, and regularly checking for symptoms. Those affected were treated in isolated wards (sounds familiar?). In the early 1950s, Jonas Salk developed a Polio vaccine in the research facilities of the University of Pittsburgh. The first recipients were local children attending Arsenal Elementary School. After progressively larger tests and consistent positive results, Dr. Salk’s invention turned this disease into something that is nearly non-existent today.
Later in the decade, the world’s engineers faced a new type of problem – the Tyranny of numbers. Electrical engineers were unable to create more complex products and designs because these complex designs required a vast number of components that had to be connected by wires and soldered by hand. While working at Texas Instruments in Dallas, Jack Kilby had an idea to create a unified component that contained several pieces like transistors, capacitors, and their respective wiring. This new design, the integrated circuit, accelerated technology across the globe and allowed for the creation of Moore’s law.
Energy crises, sadly, are nothing new but have led to many breakthrough innovations. In the 70’s, America was facing a different kind of energy crisis, a shortage of oil. At the time there were three devestating wars occurring in the Middle East, compounding this crisis, which led to a diminished oil supply and skyrocketing prices.
In response, the federal government established the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) outside of Denver in Golden, Colorado. This research facility pushed the boundaries of material science, consistently improving on the efficiency of solar cells. Eventually, this work led to the discovery of a method that tripled the efficiency of solar cells – finally turning solar into a viable alternative source of energy.
The Heartland’s solutions aren’t limited to yesteryear’s problems. Today, solutions to many of the world’s biggest challenges are being developed in the American Heartland. Next in our series, we will dive into how the Heartland is innovating agriculture, energy, national defense and other critical industries to help us thrive in the modern world.
Inside this issue
- Founder Friday: Aaron George, SupplyNow
- Tech started in the steel city
- An Inventor Retires as His Solar Technology Takes Flight
- Connecting the Coasts to the Heartland featuring Steve Case
- A Brief History of Texas Innovators
Aaron George is co-founder of Supply Now, an innovative solution for restaurants to help streamline their processes including food ordering, supplies, delivery, staffing and logistics. The Supply Now story highlights the evolution of an idea in times of crisis. Aaron’s background in civil engineering and procurement helped develop his processes and approach to building his business. He also studied abroad in Madrid where he connected with a mentor and learned about the food supply chain in the European market. Watch Here
Pittsburgh has been a hotbed for innovation and progress for many years. From the steel industry to technology to medical research and more–this city has been a driving force for change and progress. While other cities may get more attention, Pittsburgh should be recognized for its many contributions to society as a whole… Read More.
When Greg Glatzmaier left the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the last time after a career that spanned four decades, he was already planning trips to Nevada and Spain. But not to play poker or hang out on the beach. Instead, he will spend the next year working with solar power plant operators to implement a technology he created to make the plants run more efficiently… Read more
Join over 300 founders and investors in Cleveland for Connecting the Coasts to the Heartland hosted by Comeback Capital. Our founder, Patrick McKenna will be moderating a panel on the growth of the tech ecosystem in Northern Ohio! To register visit https://www.comeback.vc/cleveland2023
When the early Texas rancher Charles Goodnight invented the chuck wagon, in 1866, he didn’t just presage today’s food trucks; he solved an immediate problem, which was how to keep cowboys on the remote parts of the range well-fed. During the rough-and-tumble frontier days, Texas demanded such inventiveness from its inhabitants just so they could survive. Through the years, as Texans have tamed the land, their signature moxie has led to many more triumphs, not just in the fight to survive but also in the quest to advance… Read more