“I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.”

There is a scene in the film “The Graduate”, in which the protagonist, Benjamin, is getting unsolicited advice about his future from Mr. McGuire:

I have just one word to say to you...

I have just one word to say to you…

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

I was thinking about this last week, when I was attending a meeting of the Colorado Robotics Association. This is a relatively new organization, they will celebrate their one-year mark in April, and it is made up of business people, engineers, and academic researchers who focus on robotics.  What I find most amazing is the number of institutions and individuals involved in robotics in Colorado. At this meeting there were 23 individuals, representing 17 different institutions, including the major universities, companies renging from the very large, to small start-ups.

There was a palpable energy in the discussions that ran around the breakfast table. Yes, all these people got together for breakfast at a local restaurant.  People were generating ideas faster than they could be written down, and when the meeting separated into smaller brainstorming groups, the noise level exploded. The focus of the meeting was a brainstorming session for raising the general awareness of the size and activity level of the robotics industry in Colorado. There was a secondary focus on how to take advantage of the synergy between the various institutions and businesses.   I heard a robotics start-up company meeting a company that specializes in developing production models out of prototypes, a professor teaching robotics discussing ways to help promote the upcoming BEST competitions.

And that is when it hit me.  “Plastics.”

It is hard to remember, and for many people, they never experienced this, but 60 years ago, there were only a few plastics available. And many of these had significant trade-offs in appearance, strength, and durability. However, as Mr. McQuire observed, the plastics industry was going to revolutionize modern industry, and massively expand the range of products. Incidentally, it was also going to make a lot of people a lot of money in the process.  More recently, it was like sitting around when there were a handful of personal computer manufacturers, and the machines really didn’t do very much. But, the energy and excitement fuelled the promises, and look at where we are now. Incidentally, the personal computer market was also going to make a lot of people a lot of money in the process.

The robotics industry, at least here in Colorado, is poised on the runway, ready to take off. The technology is moving out of the labs and into products, the synergy between the numerous companies and the academic labs is high. From the conversations I heard at the Colorado Robotics Association, robotics is also going to make a lot of people a lot of money. So, I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.


Where’s your robot?  Ours are being built by Gamma Two Robotics here in Colorado


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  1. #1 by Chuck on January 23, 2012 - 8:36 am

    Here’s to the next 60 years of robots..

    PS — I ran a plastics factory for a bit, back in the day. Less fun than robots.

  1. A long strange trip « whereismyrobot

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