I’m thrilled to share some selections with you from my latest assignment for the always fantastic to work with Forbes Magazine. This time they sent me to Cleveland Ohio to create portraits for a story on Parker Hannifin – a nearly 100-year-old worldwide firm specializing in motion control and mechanical engineering that is in the process of disrupting their own research and development process in a really exciting way.
My first subject was Craig Maxwell – the company’s VP of technology and innovation, and the man responsible for creating the new R&D practices at Parker that allow singularly focused engineers and scientists to pursue research on their own wild projects in a program that’s part hacker space, part startup incubator, and part Shark Tank like pitch contest – a program that’s keeping the company focused on agility, adaptability, and innovation at a time when slow-moving and overly conservative companies are falling to disruptive young upstarts. The symbiosis between the company and it’s passionate and competitive engineers benefits everyone – especially those engineers to whom Parker provides significant benefit and support, as Maxwell’s ultimate aim is for them to have an ownership stake in their profoundly important creations.
My second subject for this assignment is a perfect example of Maxwell’s ideal. Ryan Farris is one of the singularly focused engineers I mentioned above – and the mind behind one of Parker’s most exciting new developments, a revolutionary wearable exoskeleton system aimed at helping people with severe spinal injuries to walk again. Aside from the healthcare application the firm is hopeful that there might be further industrial applications that they can develop as the technology evolves. Farris began work on the project while still a student at Vanderbilt University and it there that the exoskeleton caught Craig Maxwell’s attention, prompting him to bring the project in-house at Parker. Farris has been catching the attention of more than just the internal startup scene at Parker, as he was named one of Forbes 30 under 30 Young Innovators – an honor he greatly deserves as his invention should be brining real positive change to people’s lives in the next couple of years.