Driven by Passion: Meet Ron Ellis, Gerber Expert and Space Enthusiast
At Gerber, we believe passion is the key to success. We are lucky to have a team of experts who are passionate about what they do and are fully committed to the success of our customers. In the “Driven by Passion” blog series, we’ll be highlighting members of our team and gathering their insight on the current state of the industry and how important technology is to stay agile.
In this edition, meet Ron Ellis, Director of Product Management.
1. With the recent space launch, we’ve heard you’re a bit of a “space enthusiast”, how did you first get involved with aerospace and what do you like most about the industry?
I was introduced to space when I was a small child. My dad got me out of bed to watch Neil Armstrong step on the moon and I recall going outside that evening to try to see the space capsule with a pair of binoculars. I’ve been an enthusiast of space exploration ever since, like many of my generation are. What amazes me is not necessarily space itself but the challenges that it poses as well as the human ingenuity and resourcefulness to face a challenge and overcome it. There are too many to count when it comes to space exploration.
2. What’s the role of technology for the space industry? How does technology make such incredible space travel possible?
Think for a moment. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. Scientists and engineers take the same resources that have been here since the beginning of time and solve problems. For thousands of years, humans have taken rocks from the earth in their raw form, refined and combined them to address a challenge. Humans make stuff out of sand!
Space presents so many challenges. Space exploration means you have to first overcome the laws of physics. You have to address radiation, extreme heat and cold, and the vacuum of space. You have to eat, sleep, work, keep fit in an extreme environment for months at a time in space. However, when you put these challenges to the world’s best scientists and engineers, they will come up with a technical solution. It always amazes me that technology advances every time we go to space, be it a satellite, a space capsule, or another human being. I’ve flown a couple of million miles but I’m still fascinated that a 747 can take off, fly around the world, land on a narrow runway, smooth as silk (except for the cramped seating). That plane started out as a pile of rocks, sand, oil which is just mind blowing.
3. What makes you proud to be part of the Gerber crew?
For a space enthusiast like myself, Gerber is a great place to be. Gerber takes part in many activities for the aerospace industry. Space suits need to be technically designed and cut with perfect precision. It needs to fit perfectly without any defects as it’s a matter of life or death. Rocket parts need to be beyond perfect and assembled with absolute precision. Our advanced technology helps aerospace companies design patterns as well as cut and assemble the most demanding and expensive materials, such as composites and complex parts, with absolute precision and quality.
4. When looking for a complete solution for better quality and precision what should be taken into consideration?
There are machines for all levels of jobs. The aerospace industry produces high speed, high endurance, highly technical, and perhaps the most precise of all machines, as it should since peoples’ lives depend on the precision and durability of aerospace products. A country's reputation in the world is often defined by their aerospace technology.
In order to produce the components of these machines, you need the right software and hardware. Companies should give consideration to the level of R&D, engineering and proven solutions in the industry. Gerber absolutely stands out as a leader and a proud supplier to the industry by continuing to innovate and provide real solutions to the challenges of aerospace material processing.
5. Besides providing technology, what else is Gerber doing to help the aerospace industry?
“Space” is a large business with many subcontractors globally. Much of the challenges of space are addressed with new materials. Most all these materials have to be cut from designed patterns and are often composites made of specialty layers. They may be layers of the same materials but plied at different angles to one another for super strength and lightweight. There might be multiple materials to achieve multiple functions, one for heat resistance, one to maintain pressurization and oxygen, another for sweat absorbance, one for body sensors. It can get complicated very quickly.
Gerber’s solutions are installed around the world and absolutely represent the best the industry has to offer. Gerber’s software, hardware and laser solutions are designed and built for flexibility and integration to other systems. In addition, the Virtek laser solution helps to perfectly assemble parts of extreme complexity which is the most crucial step for a perfectly finished product. Regardless of the application, Gerber can help with scalable solutions from concept, design, manufacturing, undisputed industry expertise, as well as support and service.
6. What sets Gerber apart from other companies providing technology for the aerospace industry?
Gerber has been around since the beginning of the space program and continues to innovate along with the aerospace industry. As such, Gerber can offer leading-edge technology as well as application expertise to the industry. As new material technology is developed in the space industry, Gerber develops solutions for manufacturing and processing of those materials. The expertise we’ve acquired in the most high tech and demanding sectors allows us to use best practices in similar sectors such as aeronautics, bizjet and transportation.
7. How does Gerber’s expertise in high-tech industries, such as aerospace, help to move the transportation industry forward and better prepare them for the future?
As mentioned before, Gerber is a technology company who works closely with the aerospace industry. One of our core competencies is material handling. Gerber works with companies that process these materials and develops solutions to optimize the processing and optimization of them. Gerber’s solutions are scalable. We have technology in a skunk-works lab for R&D. We have similar technology in the factory that builds the rockets, space suites, seats, helmets, heat shields, and more. The great thing is Gerber offers integrated digital solutions that enable global collaboration and partnerships that are typical of the aerospace and transportation industry. Gerber has always been a fascinating place to work.