Ben's Website

PDF Tools I Use

PDFs are a staple of academia and industry, but they’re neigh-intolerable without the following: Foxit Reader – I’ve used Foxit for years; it’s plain better than Adobe, allowing all sorts of commenting, highlighting, and manipulation tools that Adobe restricted. PDF XChange – I was first encouraged to it by Docear and find it as capable […]

Electron Beam FreeForm Fabrication — IN SPACE

In the last post I described the basics Electron Beam FreeForm Fabrication (EBF3), here’s why I’m excited about it: Let’s walk through this process: Metallic Refuse Life and research aboard the ISS requires a lot of supplies and results in good amounts of waste.  This is the most expensive garbage in the world, and, due […]

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Electron Beam FreeForm Fabrication (EBF3)

There are many cool things happening in 3D printing these days, but the technique I’m most excited about, electron beam freeform fabrication (EBF3), has received very little coverage.  So in this and following posts, I want to describe the basics of this technique and some of the cases where I think it is the ideal […]

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Pandora Bounties

I’ve used Pandora for many years and its selection is persistently limited in some genres of music I’d like to hear more of.  So given this, why can’t it offer bounties for creation of new music? In my experience, liking or disliking more than every fourth track quickly leads their algorithm to overfit and play […]


I’ve been less than frequent in posts, though my drafts folder is full.  So I’m lowering the bar and hope to push out posts that could probably use more polish but which I’m tired of having linger in the drafts…and so, AmISheltered occurred today and is now public.  Cheers.


Consider a Facebook/Netflix/etc. app that analyzes a user’s profile to determine how sheltered they may be relative to their peers.  This data would be presented to the user, accompanied by a breakout plan to get them up to their peer norm.  Offers from media providers (Netflix/Amazon/etc.) would encourage the user to ‘rectify’ the situation through […]

Control Diagrams in LaTeX

[latexpage] Over Christmas break I’ve become dangerous with $\LaTeX$ document typesetting (wikipedia).  There’s something incredibly attractive about having the entire source of a document embedded in a single, text file.  Indeed the learning curve has been a bit steep (it may yet get stepper…), but I’m now able to reasonably produce dynamics and controls documents […]

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In response to #PennyForNASA’s campaign to double NASA’s funding, I emailed my representatives: Dear Sen. Ron Johnson [R, WI], Sen. Herbert Kohl [D, WI], Rep. Tammy Baldwin [D, WI-2]: I’m an engineer and I support Doubling Funding for NASA and U.S. Involvement in Space because solving difficult problems drives innovation while inspiring the nation.  Manned […]


After graduating in December 2010 I had 6 months to spend before starting grad school, so I went on an extended internship with TRACLabs in Houston, TX.  TRACLabs is a small company that does automation and robotics research and development work for NASA and the Defense Department. My work centered on developing and using TRACBot, […]


Letter in Support of NASA & Commercial Crew

A Letter to Senators Kohl and Johnson in support of robust funding of NASA’s Commercial Crew program. As your committee marks-up NASA’s 2013 budget I hope you will consider my thoughts on the future of NASA and government-funded research and development in general.  I’m from Wausau, earned my undergraduate degree from UW-Madison in Engineering Mechanics-Astronautics, […]


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