Aug 4

Donation of £75 million will create Blavatnik School of Government to prepare future leaders from the UK and around the world.

Billionaire U.S. industrialist Len Blavatnik is known to have a passion for higher education. He has donated his time and energy to ensure the progress of learning at some of the major universities in the world and currently sits on boards at Cambridge University, Harvard University, and Tel Aviv University.

With this in mind, the latest bit of Len Blavatnik news should come as little surprise.  It has been recently reported that Mr. Blavatnik has donated £75 million to Oxford University in England to create a new school for government. The new Blavatnik School of Government will help to prepare future leaders of the UK (and other countries) to provide the type of powerful, decisive leadership needed in the 21st century.

Many Oxford alumni have risen to power within the UK. David Cameron recently became the 26th Oxford graduate to become Prime Minister. Others have included Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Edward Heath. Many other leaders from around the world have matriculated at Oxford and taken the lessons learned back to their home countries. Funds donated by Mr. Blavatnik will be used to build a home for the school along with paying for 40 academic posts and hiring a dean to run the school.

The fact that Mr. Blavatnik would make such as generous donation is no surprise. A self-made billionaire, Mr. Blavatnik has used a considerable amount of his personal wealth for philanthropic causes. The Blavatnik Family Foundation has made many significant contributions to worthy causes in recent years. Among the cultural entities that the foundation supported to are the British Museum, Tate Modern, Royal Opera House, National Portrait Gallery and Museum of Modern Art. In addition, the Blavatnik Family Foundation has teamed with the New York Academy of Sciences to create the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists to honor outstanding young scientists working in a variety of fields.

Jul 4

As President Obama faced criticisms, on Saturday, for vacationing instead of fixing the Gulf problem, good news emerged from BP. The leak has been plugged.Although it is not a permanent fix and it has been in place for only two days, oil has stopped spilling into the Gulf. Although authorities placed the plug under a further day of testing and warned the public against being too optimistic, the temporary fix appeared to be working. Although the prognosis for recovery has been fixed at several months to several years, signs of progress started appearing almost immediately. The coastal part of Alabama experienced an influx of tourists; the hotels were filling up and the sea was full of swimmers as there were little or no tar balls in sight. Fishing also made a strong reappearance with piers filling up and boats setting off. Although a fair amount of Louisiana’s recreational waters were reopened, more than a third are still off limits to the public.The signs of improvement have been quite encouraging. Coast Guard flyovers revealed that the amount of oil that was visible to the naked eye was discernibly different to that of the previous day. The oil will be released back into the water after the testing period, but that will be in a controlled amount so that ships could harvest it. This will be done to relieve the pressure on the cap. In the meantime two separate relief wells are being dug to take the place of the temporary cap. Once they are completed and are online, the cap will be finally sealed.

    Apr 16

    Len Blavatnik provides financial support to a wide range of educational, cultural and charity organizations. Learn more about the philanthropic legacy of this American industrialist and billionaire.

    Len Blavatnik, American industrialist and billionaire, has an impressive portfolio. As founder and chairman of holding group Access Industries, Blavatnik boasts strategic investments around the world in various industries and market-leading companies. However, this 52-year-old self-made billionaire — worth an estimated $7.5 billion — is perhaps best known for his philanthropic efforts than his global, long-term holdings.

    Len Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation offer financial support to a wide range of educational pursuits. Just last year, the Blavatnik Family Foundation gave Harvard University two grants totaling $10 million. The year before, his foundation donated $5 million to Tel Aviv University in an effort to expand the computer science department.

    On the Harvard donation, Blavatnik said in a press release, “I am proud to support Harvard University’s visionary activities in the realm of scientific and technological research.

    “Harvard is consistently in the forefront of health and life science discoveries and I am very hopeful that these two significant grants by the Blavatnik Family Foundation will help to facilitate further breakthroughs benefiting all mankind.”

    Mr. Blavatnik, U.S. citizen, also supports numerous cultural and charity institutions including the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts and the Prince’s Trust.

    Along with providing ongoing financial support to numerous institutions, Blavatnik, Columbia University and Harvard University graduate, sits on various academic boards including at Cambridge University, Harvard Business School and Tel Aviv University. He also spends his time on the board of directors of the 92nd Street Y in New York, The White Nights Foundation of America and The Center for Jewish History in New York.

    Jan 27

    The use of roll forming lines brings with it certain considerations that must be kept in mind.  One of the most important things to remember is lubrication, which is essential for creating a barrier between the rolls and the surface that is being worked on.  Without this barrier, tools would experience exponentially higher wear and need to be replaced more often.  They also keep the process moving smoothly.

    Safety is another major concern to keep in mind.  The moving portions of the metal fabrication equipment can pose a hazard if not dealt with in a responsible manner; some workpeices move at speeds upwards of 800 fpm.  Sharp edges on sheared metal and the high pressure of the rolls also need to be kept in mind.

    The rolling process can result in microcracks, thinning or hardening of the material.  However, the physical and chemical properties in general remain virtually unchanged.

    Dec 1

    The goals of lean manufacturing are supplemented by Six Sigma tools at Chandler Industries in order to reduce errors and improve quality. According to iSixSigma, the methodology can be defined as one which “uses data and statistical analysis to measure and improve a company’s operational performance by identifying and eliminating ‘defects’ in manufacturing and service-related processes.”

    The real impact of a Six Sigma approach, whether in stainless steel machiningor running a health organization, is substantial savings—as much as $230,000 per project, according to one estimate. While Chandler Industries uses Six Sigma tools to produce and test sub assemblies, other companies have implemented them into their own processes with varying results. General Electric, for example, estimated its savings during the first five years of using the Six Sigma methodology to be in the neighborhood of $10 billion.

    For a Swiss machining shop, Six Sigma might help establish tolerance standards. For titanium machining, it could dictate in-process quality control. But regardless of the exact way in which Six Sigma is implemented, a company’s bottom line isn’t the only thing that benefits—its clients benefit from reduced operating costs, too.

    Sep 17

    I’d seen the students in the ready room. They were already in VT-86, a couple of classes ahead of the students I was working with. I didn’t recognize the male students- their uniformly close cropped heads  are
    hard to tell apart bent over their maps and their flight books and regulations.  But the female was easy to distinguish. There weren’t many females in the flight program so she kind of stood out. She was loud, funny and not shy- she couldn’t afford to be.  In flight training, you make as many friends as you can, as fast as you can because you’ll need to depend on each other throughout the entire rigorous program.

    We heard about the crash that afternoon.  Flight ops were suspended for the rest of the day.  All the birds that were in the air were called home to the nest.

    Two days later, after operations had resumed (there was a production schedule that must be met.  We trained replacements for the fleet squadrons and they’d had their own doses of destruction), word came down that the new class would proceed as directed and  be issued their flight equipment as scheduled.

    The airplane was spread out over the entire hangar. There were rolling ladders here and there throughout, spaced between big chunks of downed aircraft.  They’d recovered as much as they could find.  There were these steel hoppers where workers were sorting out pieces- avionics here, hydraulic equipment there.  In some of the bigger self-dumping hoppers there were larger sections of sheeting, like metal layers of an airborne onion.

    Of course the pieces were heavy, so workers used these special forklift attachments to lift and carry them over to another side of the hangar where they could be pieced together and the flight crews’ last moment could be deduced from a couple of cracked instruments and blood-stained wires.

    I found the contractor we were looking for. He was on a rolling warehouse ladder peering down into the cracked open ribcage of the T-39 Sabreliner whose heart had exploded and scattered pieces of aviation instrumentation and the students and pilots who had manned them across a dense patch of Appalachian forest.  I told him I’d brought these students with me to get fitted for their helmets and flight gear.  He looked down from his industrial ladder, his eyes blinkered.  He nodded, climbed down and walked over to his office to get someone to open up the gear issue.

    I walked the new class across the hangar. They studiously avoided looking at what remained of the last students who hadn’t pushed through what could be called a ‘training obstacle.’ Instead it had pushed through them. ‘Hey,  Jervais. Watch out for that rolling ladder.”

    A forklift driver backed out of a cubby hole where he’d set his load down.  We paused to watch the forklift wheel agilely backwards and slide its tines into the waiting sleeves of an industrial hopper about 10 yards away. With a quick hydraulic hiss, it lifted up its bloodied cargo and bore the evidences of the latest aviation mishap away.

    We stepped outboard of the rolling stairs and continued on our way. There was some quiet joking in the back; they would remember the smell of the burnt metal and the blistered paint. It was at least 10 weeks before they’d be gearing up for their own low level quals and boning up on formation flights.

    We threaded our way between another Cotterman and a couple of piles of scorched debris, and continued on our way.