Members of the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for the 2019 International Roofing Expo (IRE). They began the week by attending a live meetup held at Vanderbilt University and hosted by professor Larry Bridgesmith. After conducting a brief business meeting, the group was introduced to Robert Grajewski, Executive Director at the Wond’ry.
The Wond’ry is the ‘epicenter for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Vanderbilt University.’ RT3 members were given a tour of the three-story, 13,000 square foot center that facilitates innovation between students and faculty from all courses of study, whether that be engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs or artists.
The RT3 team heard stories of innovation and creativity to solve problems and develop new and unique solutions using technology. One psychology PHD candidate used the Wond’ry to develop a never-before-heard-of treatment using virtual reality goggles to transport patients to another world to help them feel safe while dealing with their issues. It’s now being written about in medical journals and being adopted by more psychologists. The team was so impressed with what was happening at the facility that some even went back the next day to share the experience with some of their co-workers who were not able to attend the first time.
On the last day of the IRE, five contractor members of RT3 were featured on a contractor panel to discuss the technologies they are using in their businesses. Ken Kelly of Kelly Roofing, Steve Little of National Roofing Partners and KPost Roofing, Josey Parks of J Wales Enterprises, Michelle Boykin of Rackley Roofing and Gregg Wallick of Best Roofing participated. The panel was moderated by RT3 board member and RoofersCoffeeShop® partner, Heidi J. Ellsworth.
Discussions focused on how augmented reality will change field service, how robotics and automation both on the roof and in the air will impact the industry, how GPS and other tracking can save thousands and how technology will change the way the industry interacts with home and building owners as well as with insurance companies.
A question and answer period followed which enabled contractors in attendance to ask questions and learn further about how the technologies available today can have an immediate impact on their businesses. The room and the hallway were buzzing with curiosity and the desire to learn more about advancing their companies through the use of technology.
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