We spoke with Will Klein, Director of Pumps & Pipes, about technology sharing and how science generated by one industry gets commercialized by another.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Jay Curry: And we’re back. Hello Texas. This is Jay Curry, your host for Texas Business Radio. Matt Registers had to step out for this segment but boy, do we have a dandy for you today. We are talking about Pumps and Pipes. Now that sounds strange but about six months ago, I went to a conference and these folks were talking. Just picture in your mind, NASA working with the big oil companies like Exxon Mobile and then you bring along our tremendous medical center that we have here in Houston and all over Texas. What if those folks got together and started sharing. That’s what Pumps and Pipes is all about. And we have one of the founders, Will Kline, in the studio and he’s going to tell you about this. You’re going to love it. This is very interesting stuff. Will, thank you.
Will Kline: Well, thank you Jay. I’m really excited to talk about Pumps and Pipes. Which is a network organization, that is as you said, brings together the most fascinating neighbors in the world. You know we’re so privileged to live in Texas, in particular here in the Houston area. Think about the neighbors we have, were the energy capital of the world. We have the most renowned medical center. And by the way we’re the Center for Human spaceflight. How cool is that?
Jay Curry: It’s amazing, isn’t it? Right here in a small area of Texas.
Will Kline: So, we founded this organization under the simple model of neighbors talking over the fence. And that allows you to do some marvelous things. Not only is the conversation really fascinating but there’s that concept of the other guy’s toolkit. Think about it, when you’re fixing your car and you need that tool, you can either go buy it, rent it. Or maybe your neighbor has it. That is the concept. This drives us to do all sorts of further interactions. Including in many cases collaborative relationships. And that is power and that is Pumps and Pipes. As we say, you know it’s all Pumps and Pipes. Whether it’s a heart in the vascular system or whether it’s a refinery, it’s all Pumps and Pipes.
Jay Curry: You’ve got it. So how old is this program?
Will Kline: We began in 2007. Alan Lumsden and I, Alan is the director of the… medical director, the DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, had lunch and we said we had to get a few friends together. So, we had about 100 people at the University of Houston for our first annual conference and we just had our 10th annual conference this year in December of 2016.
Jay Curry: This stuff is amazing. So, what you’re trying to do is get the people, the experts if you would. I mean we’re talking about world class technology. They’re developing IP special, specialties and begin to talk about whole other industries and how they might be applied. Can you give me an example of one?
Will Kline: Well, that’s exactly right. Let me first say that there are lots of organizations that try to bring people together. Our niche is bringing people together who have done great things.
Jay Curry: Yes.
Will Kline: This is not only oil and gas. This is the center of the world. These are the people that drilled the world record wells or built the biggest refineries. These are, are the people that have developed the first artificial heart. These are the people that have put people on the moon. So when you talk about toolkits, you are talking about toolkits.
Jay Curry: World class.
Will Kline: Yes. And let me talk about a simple parallel. Blood and Oil mixing, so to speak. As everybody knows still the number one cause of death in the United States is heart and vascular disease.
Jay Curry: Right.
Will Kline: Basically that means, our pipes get either infected or plugged up.
Jay Curry: Right. And we have a world class facility working on it.
Will Kline: Exactly. The number one cause of pipeline leaks in oil and gas, are pipes that are either plugged up or infected. There is a common problem and the solutions are often common. How do you read these things out? How do you deliver drugs? Be that the corrosion inhibitors or drugs. Lots of common areas and then you go down to: if you’re going to do that, How do you visualize? How do you understand the flow? As we say, it’s all Pumps and Pipes.
Jay Curry: How you do it from a big, big pipe you could walk through that’s running oil, down to a little tiny needle or something that’s going into the body. It’s just amazing.
Will Kline: Yes.
Jay Curry: And so you get them talking. Is that, is that, if they then start forming groups to work on and share technology. How does that work?
Will Kline: Yes. Well the first key is to get people talking and understanding each other. When we bring people together, whether it’s be our annual meeting or a number of spin offs, smaller meetings we have, we have three rules. Tell me a story. Tell me what you do. Tell me a story. Show me a picture. Or better yet a video. And most importantly speak English. Not your oilfield jargon or your medical field jargon, because that is a total foreign language. When you do that, a lot of clarity begins to develop. And typically there are several reactions. One is, how cool is this? This is really interesting. But the second one is, you have that tool? You know how to do that? We’ve been trying for a long time to do that. Can I come over and see your tool?
Jay Curry: Right.
Will Kline: A good example of that. The medical field are the world leaders in visualizing things with flow going through it.
Jay Curry: Right.
Will Kline: Think about your MRI’s and so…
Jay Curry: Be able to look at you either from the outside all the way in or from the inside itself.
Will Kline: Exactly. Oil and Gas is interested in seeing or visualizing flow through pipes, flow through rocks.
Jay Curry: Right.
Will Kline: And if you look at the tools that oil and gas industry has; a cat scans etc. They’re all borrowed from the medical industry, who are the pioneers there.
Jay Curry: Right. Interesting. So, you do a conference every year and then you’re doing some other things. So, give us some ideas. How can our listeners, because this is very heavy related to children and education and helping our youth. Kind of tie that all together.
Will Kline: Yes, absolutely.
Jay Curry: How do you get that message out?
Will Kline: We have an annual conference. It’s, it’s always been in the first Monday of December, at the end of each year. And we’ve done that 10 times. We just had pumps and pipes 10. This year our plan is to move it up a little bit in November because we found all the academics are busy with final exams in December. At those conferences, a number of relationships are made. And so, a number of side events, actually private side events develop. But as far as Pumps and Pipes, we go out and we speak in a number of locations, including outside the United States. We’ve had seminars in the Middle East and in Norway. But also we do a number of educational things, student programs, encouraging students.
Jay Curry: So they get to see some of this wowing technology. And we haven’t even talked about NASA. There was one example that you gave, when I heard you, about where NASA had punctures in their suit and they were using the medical technology to find them.
Will Kline: Yes.
Jay Curry: And the sharing of this technology and then bringing the youth in and really wowing them. I’ve given your Web site to several of my CEOs that I coach and they brought their kids in and this is just fascinating stuff. And it’s going to have a huge impact on the world. So, now, you’re doing this not, you’ve talked about you’re all over the world but you’ve got a deal going with Norway. This may pop up to be a big deal, not just in America. But I mean there will be Pumps and Pipes in all kinds of nations. Right? What’s going on there?
Will Kline: Wherever there are communities that are very interested in bringing together major sectors. Norway of course is a major oil and gas producer but is also developed, interested in developing itself as a very high tech country. Especially for the time when, when oil and gas is no longer their major commodity. So, Pumps and Pipes was a natural. And if you think about it, there are a number of communities in the United States, which has a major manufacturing base and a major manufacturing center. In the model of how you bring those people together to spin off even more business and collaboration.
Jay Curry: Collaborating technology from one to the other. Folks, were listening to Will Kline, who was one of the founders of Pumps and Pipes. This is pumpsandpipes.com. You’ve got to go there. You want to see NASA, you want to see the latest things and what’s going on in the Medical.. I mean it’s just inspiring and it’s great for our youth as well. Take them there. Be sure to go there. OK. We’re about to run out of time, Will. But I want to thank you for coming. Folks, this is Texas Business Radio. You want to hear this again. You need to hear this again. You need to go to Texasbusinessradio.com. OK. Go there. This interview and every one we do, will be there in high definition video. If you have any questions for Will or anybody else call us at 844-814-8144. And of course we monitor TBR, #TBR on Twitter. Were gotta escape here for just a couple of minutes. But don’t go away. We’re going to be right back.
Sponsored in part by:
Jay W. Curry
Along with hosting “Texas Business Radio”, Jay is a Professional Certified Coach and Master Chair facilitating four Houston-based Vistage peer groups. In addition to being a best selling non-fiction author, the 2015 release of his award winning novel, Nixon and Dovey: the Legend Returns, adds novelist to his title. Jay holds a BS in Mathematics from Oklahoma State and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State. You can learn more about Jay HERE.