Today I begin professional leave to pursue a moonshot: a paradigm changing concept for hydrogen cooling and liquefaction.  Faculty are eligible for leave every six years, this is my 11th year at WSU and will be my first leave. The purpose of leave is to allow for intense focus and re-training. With many state and federal programs starting to show interest in liquid hydrogen the timing couldn’t be better. With 30 people in the lab and a big move to a new building underway the timing couldn’t be worse. Regardless, we have a very important year ahead.

It is only the second professional leave from academia funded by my industrial sponsor in the company’s 20 year history. I am so grateful to live in a state with as much industrial support for higher education as Washington.

Deciding who will manage the HYPER lab in my absence may be the most important decision I have made. Here is my message to the community:

“This is my last message before turning over lab management to the management team. For those of you not at the community meeting yesterday you have considerable catch-up to do. Talk to your peers who participated, get the instructions, and prepare accordingly.

First, understand that next to my family, you are most important to me; my hope for averting climate change, my hope for life in space, and my hope for better living on the Palouse and Northwest. Deciding who will manage the lab in my absence may be the most important decision I have ever made. The lab management team is:

Mark Parsons is the lab manager in charge of purchasing and personnel. With over a decade of experience in Central Stores and managing the lab, you will not find a more competent yet personable lab manager on the Palouse.

Dr. Ian Richardson is the equipment and facility manager in charge of technical issues and safety planning. He is the most experienced person with our style of cryogenic hydrogen experiments in history.

P.K. Northcutt II is the skills manager in charge of making you better every day. Next to my family, nobody knows me better than P.K. on the Palouse. He mentored me when I was in your shoes, has decades of experience mentoring engineers and ensembles, and cares the most about your futures.

The communications manager position was just approved yesterday. We have similarly high aspirations for this position and seek to have it filled before the start of the semester.

This could be the best management team possible. You will do everything they say. They will change you. It will not be easy. This is why you are here.

Never in the history of the lab have we had so much potential. Together, with a plan, we will move #hydrogenhills. Now be brave. You already know how.”

The general impression I’ve gotten from the administration is that the HYPER lab will be out of commission for the next year. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This is our metamorphosis.
In the last week I watched the HYPER community band together to clean house in ways the Heavy Equipment crew did not think we’re possible. We are leaving the Thermal Fluids Research Building (TFRB) better, and cleaner, than we received it.
We are preparing to leave ETRL 221 to co-locate our test facilities and build facilities in the new Central Receiving Building. We are leaving ETRL 221 cleaner, and safer than we received it.
We have a lot to look forward to in our new, open-concept home in Central Receiving. But we have to generate our own financial support for the move and space upgrades. Here’s an image and floor plan concept:
Central Receiving Main Floor Workspace
HYPER floor plan concept for Central Receiving
In summary, we’ve done our best to get to where we are now, and are leaving things for the better along the way. Much of this was enabled by your support over the years. Thank you! If you’d like to leave your mark as we setup our new home and further hydrogen technologies, you can help us in our big year by pledging a donation here.
Together we’ll move #hydrogenhills while leaving things for the better.