Corvallis Business: NuScale Power Signs a Steel Deal, More C-Town Robots, State Economists Getting Happy

When we write the words Oregon Office of Economic Analysis do you become comatose or anxious – or if you’re weird like us, do you sit up straight, and say, yes please. Hey, four times yearly the OEA drops the most reliably spellbinding tome of any state agency, the Oregon Economic and Revenue Forecast, and last week’s was a serious page-turner. 

Unlike some reports that burn all the razzle-dazzle right into the up-top exec summary, OEA teases you to read more and more – and this report was just so freaking worth it. 

This Will Be Your Favorite Line: The report starts with a nod to what should be happening – a recession, and then goes on to talk about how it’s not happening, and then it says, this, “Our office’s baseline forecast calls for the economic soft landing and continued expansion.” 

It Gets Even Rosier: This one uplifting paragraph that will make every heart happy is simply titled ‘Oregon Economic Outlook.’  

Just read it for yourself,  “The economic recovery from the pandemic has been faster, more complete, and more inclusive than any in recent memory. Employment across Oregon has never been higher when analyzing based on educational attainment, gender, geographic location, or race and ethnicity. Household incomes and finances are likewise a stronger position today than pre-pandemic. However, as the economy is now at or near full employment, growth is set to slow. The upcoming 2023-25 biennium will see economic growth that is near its potential, which is determined by the amount of labor and capital in the state. Economic growth is all about how many workers there are, and how productive each worker is.” 

Look, click here for the full report, you know you want to, so just go for it, it’ll put a smile on your face. 

NuScale Power Has Maybe Hooked Some Steel Plants: Might a steel plant benefit from its own source of nuclear power – Nucor thinks maybe so,  

Nucor advertises themselves as “North America’s most sustainable steel and steel products company,” and they’ve signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NuScale to research powering their production. 

NuScale has developed small modular reactor technology, and they have offices in Corvallis. Regular readers know they’ve been highly active nationally and internationally as of late. 

In Corvallis Robotics News: Jonathan W. Hurst is a Professor of Robotics, co-founder of the Oregon State University Robotics Institute, and Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Agility Robotics, which is located here in Corvallis.  

So, Hurst earlier this month gave the keynote at the Robotics Summit & Expo in Boston – which probably had something to do with Agility having just introduced a new generation of workplace robots that aims to fix a fundamental problem in the industry. 

Existing automation solutions have drawbacks, they’re typically single purpose, which means companies have to onboard and maintain dozens of different solutions for different tasks, or they require expensive workspace customization.  

But Agility’s new robot, named Digit, is multi-purpose, so it can execute a variety of tasks and adapt to many different workflows; a fleet of Digits is able to switch between applications depending on current warehouse needs and seasonal shifts. Because Digit is also human-centric, meaning it is the size and shape of a human and is built to work in spaces designed for humans, it is easy to deploy into existing warehouse operations and as-built infrastructure without costly retrofitting.  

Hurst’s talk was titled, ““Developing Human-Centric Bipedal Robots,” 

We Told You the Agility Story, So We Could Tell You This Story: Now, Oregon State University has announced that their researchers are part of a $5 million National Science Foundation effort to accelerate robotics research by making standardized humanoid robots available to the scientific community. 

Bill Smart and Naomi Fitter, who study human-robot interaction in the OSU College of Engineering, will lead the project, part of the NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Community Research Infrastructure program. 

The NSF’s goal for the program is to drive discovery and learning in computing and communication foundations, computer and network systems, and information and intelligent systems. 

The Oregon State investigators will partner with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Laboratory and a Los Angeles-based software company, Semio, that specializes in robotics applications. 

The project involves building and distributing 50 Quori robots to serve as a standardized hardware and software platform for researchers. Quori robots have an expressive face, gesturing arms and a bowing spine and are designed for experimentation in the lab and also “in the wild,” i.e. real-world types of settings. 

“A big hurdle in robotics research has been the lack of a common robot to work with,” Smart said. “It’s tough to compare results and replicate and build on each other’s work when everyone is using a different type of robot. Robots come in many shapes and sizes, with different types of sensors and varying capabilities.” 

Oregon State’s primary contributions to the project will be setting up and maintaining a network of resources surrounding the use of the Quori robot and helping to beta test the robot and the resources. 

“The team will build on the success of an earlier NSF-funded project by the University of Pennsylvania, Semio and the University of Southern California that designed, built and tested 10 prototype Quori robots and awarded them to research teams,” Fitter said. “The current work will incorporate the lessons learned to improve the robot’s design, making it easier to manufacture at scale, and to distribute it to a broader set of research groups.” 

Fitter and Smart say the project team will connect students and researchers using Quori through online collaboration tools, events and opportunities to work together – building a community of roboticists that can learn from one another and advance the pace of research. 

“Part of the focus is bringing new teams into the community and helping them get up to speed by pairing them with more experienced researchers,” Smart added. “This will increase the diversity of people involved in robotics research in the United States and accelerate progress, especially in the field of human-robot interaction.” 

And now, your business events calendar…  

Sustainable Food Packaging: Dr. Yanyun Zhao offers a lecture titled “A Challenging Yet Rewarding Journey in Search of Sustainable Food Packaging Solutions,” followed by a Q&A session. 

8:30 to 10 am, Wednesday, May 24.  Memorial Union Building (MU), Horizon Room, 2501 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331. Advanced registration and in-person attendance are encouraged. The lecture will be streamed on  

OSU Virtual MBA Program Application Workshop: This virtual session reviews the application process, offering tips and suggestions so you can make sure you are submitting the best possible application to MBA, MSB, or Graduate Certificate Programs at Oregon State University. It’s recommend (but do not require) that you attend an Information Session before attending an Application Workshop. Zoom information provided after registration.    

5:30 pm to 6:30 pm, Wednesday, May 24. Click here to register.

Corvallis Young Pros: Bring a friend, bring your business cards, and get ready to network! 5 to 7 pm, Tuesday, May 30, 2323 9th Street at Helix Training.

Changemakers: A Conversation with Amber Coyne: From Oregon State to India to Tennessee, Amber Coyne, MPH ’15, is making a profound impact on infectious disease community outreach, prevention and treatment. 

Hear from Coyne during the next Changemakers live webcast for an important conversation about how her roots in public health and special interests in LGBTQ+ health equity, harm reduction and language justice propel her to find innovative ways to address public health risks in order to keep our most vulnerable populations safe. 

At the Tennessee Department of Health, she oversees the development and implementation of End the Syndemic Tennessee (ETS); syndemic describes synergistically related, clustered epidemics and the social conditions within a specific place and time that impact the health of communities. Her work with ETS addresses the prevention of systemic epidemics as well as HIV, sexually transmitted infections, substance use disorder and viral hepatitis. 

5:30 to 6:30 pm, Thursday, June 1. Register to join the FREE live webcast. 

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