OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of business

OSU partnership forms new center for software development

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two organizations at Oregon State University have joined forces to create a new center offering expanded services in product testing, software development and hosting.

The Center for Applied Systems and Software in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was formed by the partnership of the Open Source Lab and the Business Solutions Group. For several years, both groups have been delivering products and services to clients while providing training opportunities for students on real-world projects.

“It’s a partnership that made sense and it was the right time to make the move,” said Carlos Jensen, director of the new center and associate professor of computer science at OSU. “We have an assertive, aggressive, optimistic view of the future that will drive innovation.”

Although the Open Source Lab and Business Solutions Group will retain their identity and function, their combined skills can provide clients with complete software solutions, including design, development, testing and hosting. They can take on a larger variety of projects that would have been beyond the scope of either one alone.

For instance, although neither group had previously created a mobile application, the first project undertaken by the new organization includes two iOS and Android apps for Oregon Sea Grant. “Oregon Catch” will be an app to help visitors buy fresh fish directly from ocean fishermen, and “Working Waterfronts” will provide educational information about industrial sites on the coast to tourists.

Beyond software services, the new center will provide clients an opportunity to develop working relationships with students for potential future employment. Industry representatives can gain quick and cost-effective access to students who will assist with projects, without the need to directly supervise them, as they would with a conventional internship.

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Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098

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Study: State, federal role in electric utilities’ labor issues should be reexamined

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Power outages have never been more costly. Electricity is critical to communication, transportation, commerce and national security systems, and wide-spread or prolonged outages have the potential to threaten public safety and cause millions, even billions, of dollars in damages.

“It doesn’t seem that dire until a storm hits, or somebody makes a mistake, and then you are risking a blackout,” said Inara Scott, an assistant professor in the College of Business at Oregon State University.

“You have to consider the magnitude of the potential harm to the public. Without power, you can’t pump gas. Cell phones may not work. Water systems are threatened. These are big problems.”

That’s why it may be time to re-examine the role of public utility commissions and the effect of the National Labor Relations Act in labor disputes regarding electric utilities, Scott suggests in a new study.

Public utility commissions have more authority than some existing court decisions suggest, but they tend to take a conservative approach and there is a strong presumption that they can’t get involved, Scott said. Modifying the NLRA to more clearly define the states’ powers might be needed to change that mindset, she said. The changes would affect both sides – labor and management – equally, she said.

“The current law does not reflect the times,” Scott said. “The courts need to look at these cases differently, because the role of electricity in our lives has changed.”

Many public utility commissions have concluded, based largely on court decisions under the NLRA, that they’re prohibited from intervening in labor disputes even when public safety is threatened, Scott said. PUCs are the state agencies that regulate public utilities.

That interpretation of the federal law does not reflect the critical role electricity plays in people’s lives and livelihoods today, said Scott, whose study of the issue was published this week in the “Energy Law Journal.”

“If workers strike or are locked out of their jobs during a labor dispute, a utility might operate just fine, or there could be a major problem,” said Scott, an attorney who spent 10 years practicing energy and regulatory law before joining the OSU faculty.

“The problems caused by an electrical outage are not easy to predict and the consequences can be severe,” said Scott, whose research focuses on the transformation of utility systems, clean energy, energy efficiency and utility regulation.

Scott began studying the National Labor Relations Act and the role of public utility commissions in labor disputes involving electric utilities after following a 2012 labor dispute involving Consolidated Edison of New York.

Con Edison management locked out more than 8,000 employees after labor negotiations broke down. Union members warned the move would leave the utility with inadequate safety monitoring, deferred maintenance and threats of unsafe conditions.

But the state’s public utility commission, the only regulatory agency with authority to oversee the safety and operation of Con Edison’s system, announced that it lacked jurisdiction to end the lockout or get involved in the negotiations.

As the lockout wore on and severe summer weather threatened the power grid, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged the New York Public Service Commission to get more involved.

The dispute was ultimately settled but the case underscored the high stakes of labor disputes involving electric utilities, as well as the potential danger to public safety and the need for clarification of the authority of state public utility commissions, Scott said.

Scott’s study was supported by OSU.

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Inara Scott, 541-737-4102, Inara.Scott@bus.oregonstate.edu

Top Oregon family businesses to be honored at Nov. 20 event

PORTLAND, Ore. – Several Oregon family businesses will be honored at the 2014 Excellence in Family Business Awards ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.

Bill Chambers, owner of Stahlbush Island Farms, Inc., and one of this year’s honorees, will speak at the event, which is sponsored by Oregon State University’s Austin Family Business Program. Chambers and his wife, Karla, of Corvallis, were selected as the Dean’s Family Business Leadership Award winners for 2014.

“We’re so fortunate that Bill will be joining us to share his advice and insights about three generations of enterprises in the Chambers family,” said Sherri Noxel, director of the Austin Family Business Program.

Founded in 1985, the Austin Family Business Program at OSU is a family business program providing inspiration, education, outreach and research to support the success and survival of family businesses.

The Excellence in Family Business Awards recognize the achievements of family businesses in entrepreneurship, community involvement and multi-generational planning. More than 200 companies have been honored since the awards began in 1988.

This year’s awards feature new categories that reflect sound family business practices. Two of those categories honor winners from both established and emerging family businesses. Honorees are:

  • Family Harmony: Second Glance, Inc., of Corvallis, emerging family business; and Unger Farms, Inc. of Cornelius, established family business. Finalists in the category were Jag Forms of West Linn, emerging; and WSC Insurance of Forest Grove, established.
  • Generational Development: Glory Bee of Eugene, emerging family business. Finalists were Advanced Wealth Management, Portland, emerging; and Blue Raeven Farmstand, LLC, of Rickreall, established.
  • Business Renewal: Willamette Valley Pie Company, Salem. Viewpoint Construction Software of Portland was a finalist in the category.
  • Student Award: Jake Thompson of Thompson Timber.

The event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and the program at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $85, or $25 for children ages 3-10. The hotel is located at 614 S.W. 11th Ave., Portland.

To reserve a seat, register online at http://bit.ly/1yVW32k or contact Melissa Elmore at Melissa.elmore@bus.oregonstate.edu or 1-800-859-7609. The deadline to register is Nov. 7.

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Sherri Noxel, 541-737-6019, Sherri.noxel@bus.oregonstate.edu

Intel ‘futurist’ to speak Oct. 28 at Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Brian David Johnson, the ‘futurist’ at Intel Corp., will speak at Oregon State University Oct. 28 as part of the College of Business Dean’s Distinguished Lecture series.

As Intel’s futurist, Johnson’s charge is to develop a 10- to 15-year vision for the future of technology. His work, called futurecasting, uses ethnographic field studies, technology research, trend data and even science fiction to provide Intel with a pragmatic vision of consumers and computing.

In his lecture, “Humanity in the Machine: What Comes after Greed?” Johnson will explore the relationship between humanity and technology, and look at how technology reflects the mission and values of the societies that create it.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the Austin Auditorium in the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Jenn Casey, 541-737-0695.

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Jenn Casey, 541-737-0695, jenn.casey@oregonstate.edu

Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator accepting applications

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator program is seeking participants for its next cohort, which begins in January 2015 and runs for five months.

Applications from innovative and high-growth traded sector companies that produce goods and services used outside the region are encouraged. Eligibility information can be found on the website.

The program offers an opportunity for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses, connect with industry professionals, gain access to OSU venture development funds, and work with an advisory team to accelerate company development.

“We are taking advantage of the many resources available for clients, and thanks to the accelerator our business is now ready to take off,” said client Stan Baker, with Baker Seed Technologies. “The accelerator is a proven springboard to success.”

The five-month curriculum uses a proven methodology to guide emerging enterprises from infancy to independence, officials say. More information and an application is available on the website, at www.oregonstate.edu/accelerator, and applications will be followed by an interview with the co-directors and a formal presentation to the entrance committee.

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Betty Nickerson, 541-368-5205

Business ethics focus of May 7 lecture at Oregon State University

John Hall, owner and CEO of 16 Degree Advisory, will discuss the importance of business ethics at a free public lecture beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, at Oregon State University.  

The event will be held in the Austin Auditorium at the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis.

Hall’s talk, “Making Ethical Decisions When Success Is Defined by Profits,” is part of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings business leaders from across the United States to Oregon State’s campus to address a variety of today’s most relevant business topics. The series is sponsored by the OSU College of Business.

Portland-based 16 Degree Advisory delivers a compass for forward-thinking business leaders who want to bring clarity to their organizational direction, who are seeking to get more from their employees and who are looking to bring increased stability and efficiency to all business functions. Taking a new approach as a “certified” ethics and compliance professional, Hall applies a servant leadership approach toward building and growing businesses.

Before launching 16 Degree Advisory, Hall was the co-founder and owner of EthicsPoint, Inc., which later became the $100 million software company NAVEX Global, where Hall was the chief ethics and compliance officer.

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Jenn Casey, 541-737-0695, Jenn.Casey@oregonstate.edu

Eric Allyn keynote speaker for Nov. 21 event honoring family businesses

PORTLAND, Ore. – A group of 12 Oregon family enterprises will be honored at the 2013 Excellence in Family Business Awards ceremony Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Governor Hotel in Portland.

The awards are presented by Oregon State University’s Austin Family Business Program. More than 190 companies have been honored since 1988. The awards recognize the achievements of family businesses in entrepreneurship, community involvement and multi-generational planning.

A new feature this year is keynote speaker Eric Allyn, a fourth-generation member of medical device manufacturer Welch Allyn, Inc. Allyn serves on several family business boards and travels extensively to speak to groups of family business owners because of his strong belief that “family businesses should be and need to be more competitive.”

“Eric Allyn is a strong advocate for family business growth and is willing to share his experience transitioning to nonfamily management to continue Welch Allyn’s global success,” said Sherri Noxel, director of the Austin Family Business Program.

Companies are honored in four categories based on the size of the business.

Also recognized will be Cora Wahl of Wahl Ranches & Co., winner of the student award.

Founded in 1985, the Austin Family Business Program is a university-based family business program providing inspiration, education, outreach, and research to support the success and survival of family businesses.

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Sherri Noxel, 541-737-6019

OSU program to spur start-ups moves into downtown Corvallis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator has a new home in downtown Corvallis.

The Accelerator, created to spur the creation of new companies from Oregon State University-based research, will be located at 200 S.W. 4th St., less than a block from Corvallis City Hall. Mark Lieberman, co-director of the OSU Advantage Accelerator and chief startup officer, said his team will move into the building in October.

“The Accelerator facility will be a hub for creative and innovative thinking for technology start-ups,” he said. “We will offer essential networking events, as well as educational and leadership opportunities, including CEO roundtables, presentations and one-on-one meetings with successful entrepreneurs, investors, and venture capitalists.”

Lieberman, co-director John Turner, and program administrator Betty Nickerson, will have offices in the downtown facility. Turner said space for eight student interns, plus an entrepreneur-in-residence, will also be provided.

“We’re excited to be in the heart of downtown Corvallis. The Accelerator is focused on creating new companies and new jobs, and we see the city of Corvallis as an important partner in this goal," Turner said. "This gives us a place where we can all be together of course, and also gives us a public face so we can meet with researchers and companies from the community."

The OSU Advantage Accelerator is one component of the Oregon State University Advantage, an educational, research and commercialization initiative begun earlier this year. OSU’s Accelerator recently announced its first 13 clients.

The OSU Advantage Accelerator is a component of the South Willamette Valley Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or RAIN, which was made possible by recent legislative approval and funding.

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Mark Lieberman, 541-737-9016

Study finds disincentives to energy efficiency can be fixed

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study finds that utilities aren't rewarded for adopting energy efficiency programs, and that reforms are needed to make energy efficiency as attractive as renewables.

The article, just published in the current issue of Environmental Law, examines key differences between energy efficiency projects and renewable resources. Author Inara Scott, an assistant professor at Oregon State University, outlines ways to increase the amount of energy utilities save each year through efficiency programs.

“Right now, the system actually discourages utilities from building programs to increase efficiency,” she said. “We need to start addressing efficiency as we do renewable energy – by looking at it systemically and removing the barriers.”

Scott spent a decade as a lawyer specializing in energy and regulatory law. Her research in the College of Business centers on the transformation of utility systems, clean energy, energy efficiency, and utility regulation.

Her study makes four key recommendations: redesigning rate structures, setting hard targets, streamlining cost-effective tests and addressing market barriers.

Cost-recovery systems for many investor-owned utilities in the United States are based on an old rate structure model – the more energy that is produced, the higher return for shareholders. “You don’t want to penalize utilities for selling less energy,” Scott said.

Instead, she said, states can use ratemaking mechanisms to decouple the link between utility sales and revenues and establish performance incentives for the adoption of efficiency programs.

“Decoupling mechanisms may add complexity to utility rate structures, but they are essential to eliminating environmentally nonsensical ratemaking models that reward utilities for higher sales and penalize them for efficiency.”

Setting hard targets is doable, she said. The state of Oregon has set a goal for 25 percent of its energy to be consumed through renewables by 2025. Scott said other states also could set aspirational goals for energy efficiency.

“If states are committed to reducing the strain on the electric grid, diversifying utility resource portfolios, reducing dependence on foreign markets, and reducing carbon emissions through the adoption of renewable resources, they should be just as willing to do so through the adoption of energy efficiency as they are through the purchase of renewable resources.”

Streamlining cost-effectiveness tests will be difficult, Scott said, because a simple, accurate way to measure energy efficiency does not exist. “The difficulty is that you’re trying to measure energy you didn’t use. So really, you’re measuring something that doesn’t exist.”

Many of the tests that do exist are so complicated that they may discourage utilities from adopting energy efficiency. Issues with cost-effectiveness testing will be difficult to fully remedy, Scott said, but these steps —conducting assessments at a programmatic level, streamlining the precision of tests, and considering the development of national standards — will move the bar forward.

Market barriers, Scott said, can be addressed through incentives. Some states, including Colorado and Michigan, have increased the size of incentives for consumers to take on energy efficiency programs (including, in some cases, reimbursing consumers 100 percent of their investment) and finding ways to make incentives more attractive to customers through advertising and education.

“There needs to be better marketing around efficiency,” Scott said. “We need to make increasing energy efficiency as attractive as opting for ‘green’ or ‘salmon-friendly’ renewables.”

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Inara Scott, 541-737-4102

Annual spring fashion show held May 31

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The annual spring fashion show at Oregon State University will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 31, at CH2M Hill Alumni Center, 725 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The event is a showcase of OSU’s finest designers, which this year has the theme “Floralia.” The show is organized by students in the School of Design and Human Environment.

The work of 15 students, majoring in apparel design and merchandising management, will be featured at the show.

The fashion show is open to the public. Tickets range in price from $7 for standing room to $100 for front row seats. Tickets must be purchased at Milam Hall Room 228 on campus.

For more information on the show, go to www.OregonStateFashionShow.com

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