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June 15, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Technology & Innovation: Kutta Technologies

  |   Video
  • Doug Limbaugh, the CEO of Kutta Technologies, talks about what his Phoenix company is doing to help U.S. Army soldiers control unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • Doug Limbaugh - CEO of Kutta Techonologies
Category: Military   |   Keywords: U.S. Army, vehicles, technology, kutta, drones, unmanned vehicles,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: "Horizon's" continuing look at technology and innovation issues focuses tonight at a local company playing a big part in the development of remote controlled unmanned military aircraft. Here to tell us more is Doug Limbaugh, CEO of Phoenix-based Kutta Technologies. Good to have you here.

Doug Limbaugh: Great to be here.

Ted Simons: What are we talking about here? A new technology for troops in the field to control drones?

Doug Limbaugh: Exactly. One of the newer technologies that the military is coming out and will be out in the next four to five years is called unmanned resupply. And so basically what that does is turned basic helicopters within the army, within the military, and unmanned resupply ships so they can take the blood, bullets, and beans out to soldiers that need them in the mountainous areas instead of sending a convoy and subject them to IEDs.

Ted Simons: And soldiers in the field with this equipment can guide these drones up, down, sideways, the whole nine yards?

Doug Limbaugh: Exactly. We have a handheld system, a wrist mounted system, and another system I don't have here today, but basically they use this like a video game, and as the aircraft gets within their radio range they take control and tell it where to land, where to drop off supplies and so forth.

Ted Simons: Let's take a look at this now. This is a CPU, correct?

Doug Limbaugh: This is a display system, and the CPU is in the backpack of the computer. That's connected to the transmitter that communicates with the air vehicles.

Ted Simons: That's a display system and this looks to be, what, this is a --

Doug Limbaugh: A wrist worn unmanned vehicle controller.

Ted Simons: On the wrist.

Doug Limbaugh: It's just a point and click operation in order to fly the aircraft, in order to control the payload or the camera that's on board, you can zoom in, zoom out, just like you do with a video on your telephone today.

Ted Simons: And the whole package in this shot shows the whole package with the backpack, you've got the monitor, the whole kit and kaboodle there.

Doug Limbaugh: We think with our new innovations are going to change the way the army uses UAVs, and they've actually said that. With our technology it really changes the way soldiers have to train to use our UAVs. We've simplified the process of learning how to fly a UAV from weeks of training down to a few hours.

Ted Simons: As far as what the screen shows, what the image shows, I think we have a shot of that as well, it looks like a video game.

Doug Limbaugh: Yeah. Exactly. A lot of people look at our display and our user interface and say it's like an iphone and it also has Google earth so you can see the earth in 3D, you can see the relative position of the airplanes, the mountains, terrain. And you just work it just like a video game, if you will.

Ted Simons: Now, you brought on set here the same material, how much does this stuff weigh, logistically is this the kind of thing you can take for long trips? Talks to us about the specs here as far as the range involved.

Doug Limbaugh: The range typically with this -- I can't get into all the specifics on the range, but about 10 miles or so. You can reach out and with some different configurations you can get out a little farther in order to control the unmanned system. With this device here, we're aiming more for a common controller within the army. So not -- from a logistic standpoint you don't have to have a whole bunch of equipment, you can carry this one handheld with a backpack and control the unmanned aerial vehicles with cameras, control the air ships for resupply and control ground robots in the field with just one system.

Ted Simons: We just saw the backpack there and we saw on top of the backpack, is that the monitor?

Doug Limbaugh: This is exactly what you can see here, the video streaming in from the UAV's camera. The video from the UAV camera is here, and you can hold that in your hands, you can tell it's very lightweight. And basically you can blow that up so you can actually see it in a bigger screen. You can just touch on the screen to move the camera around. You can change the zoom level to zoom in really tight to possibly read a license plate on a vehicle.

Ted Simons: I can tell you this, is not heavy stuff. This is the kind of thing soldiers in the field should be well equipped to carry.

Doug Limbaugh: Our whole backpack system weighs 15 pounds when you add everything up, including the batteries. And it has a life span basically operating under batteries of about seven to eight hours.

Ted Simons: How did you get started in this?

Doug Limbaugh: Through the government what they called the small business innovative research program, the government puts out specific proposals, specifically the DOD of problems they would like to solve. And they allocate 2.3% of their R&D budget to small companies for these innovative solutions. So it allows you to come up -- if you come up with an innovative solution that gets recognized and you get funded to build it for the military.

Ted Simons: There was a fast track grant and then there was the SBiR grant?

Doug Limbaugh: Correct. What we did with the fast grant way back in 2003, and this project actually is when it got started in 2003, we got a $5,000 Arizona fast grant to hire a writing consultant to help us. We hired Randall Grimes, he taught us how to write the proposals, and from then on we've been very successful, and I recently testified to Congress on behalf of the program.

Ted Simons: Very quickly, what's next?

Doug Limbaugh: Our underground radio systems we're developing for coal miners, and first responders so they can communicate in underground tunnel and subways and specifically in coal mines.

Ted Simons: So if the innovation is there, you can find some work here, can't you?

Doug Limbaugh: Exactly. You just got to work hard and propose innovative ideas and they do get recognize and funded by the military.

Ted Simons: Congratulations. Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Doug Limbaugh: Thank you. It was great to be here.

Forest Restoration

  |   Video
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: forest, enviornment,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Wallow Fire has now burned nearly 480,000 acres in eastern Arizona, making it the largest wildfire in state history. The devastation is providing traction for advocates of large-scale forest restoration projects. Here to talk about the concept is Navajo county supervisor David Tenney, who serves as president of the county supervisors association of Arizona, and chairman of the Greenlee County board of supervisors, Richard Lunt. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us. I want to start with you, Richard. This is happening in your county. Give us a brief update of what's hang. Is there any optimism on this fire yet?

Richard Lunt: Yes, it's now 20% contained. It's devastating, the northern part of our county is now gone. The forest that I enjoy going up fishing and hunting, my grandchildren, my great grandchildren will probably finally begin to see a forest that can be something that you'd want to go visit.

Ted Simons: We talked about this at length on Monday. Monday's program dealt with the four forest restoration initiative at length. And so I want to piggyback a little bit on what we talked about Monday with the idea of keeping -- trying to keep these kinds of fires from happening again. This restoration initiative, the biggest of its kind in the country, it is something that could work?

David Tenney: Ted, it absolutely is. That's the reason that I've not been involved in anything in the seven years I've been a supervisor to the magnitude I've been in the involved in the forest restoration initiative. My family has a logging background on both sides, my mother and my father's side going back about three generations. My "The Great Debaters" grandfather brought in the first sawmill into Arizona. We've been in it that long. And after the Rodeo-Chediski fire, something we realized something's got to be done. 20, 30 years of timber wars and mismanagement of the forest has put us in the point where these catastrophic fires will continue unless we do something proactively to keep them from happening. And there is a plan that will work.

Ted Simons: Having you two gentlemen on was designed to show there is some political legitimacy to this particular initiative. How important is to show that legitimacy?

Richard Lunt: It's very important. You know, what makes this so much different than any other thing that has been done before is we have the environmentalist at table. We have the forest service, we have the state agency. And you know what? We're all singing from the same sheet of music. We realize we have to get industries into the forests to help clean up, something that there's not enough money in the treasury, but there is enough money in the economy for solutions.

Ted Simons: You mentioned your family, you come from a logging background.

David Tenney: Yes, sir.

Ted Simons: And there's always been such tension between loggers trying to go for old growth, environmentalists saying go for the smaller trees, the underbrush. Business is involved, is included in this initiative. Correct?

David Tenney: It is. Richard mentioned some of the stake hold there's have been at the table through this restoration initiative, and the environmental community is at the table, and industry is at the table. There are companies out there that are saying they are ready to come forward with a plan to the forest service, they've been waiting on the forest service to issue a request for proposal. They're saying they are ready, willing, and able to thin the forest on a landscape scale between 30-50,000 acres a year. There's industries saying they're ready to do that.

Ted Simons: These are different industries than the ones that wanted old growth and nothing else.

Richard Lunt: Oh, yes. Another thing I think that's real important, Dave and I was just at a Western Interstate Region, which brings in all the western states in the western part of the United States. And everybody, once they found out that we were from Arizona, they were asking about this initiative. This thing will work, we've got to make it work. And it will change the way that we manage public plans or forest service.

Ted Simons: Talk about the white mountains projects. Because that's -- it seems like it's almost a template for what the forest restoration initiative, a template for that would be, kind of a small version of that.

David Tenney: Yes it is, the difference is, like you say, it's a small version, there have been between 5 and 10,000 acres a year with action of 15,000 acres a year on that contract. They're averaging more like seven or eight. The difference is doing it on that small of a scale, they've needed government subsidy. The government has been paying them X amount per acre to get that done. The new model is due to the larger scale to where industry can do this at no cost or even revenue earning for the forest service to where the federal government does haven't to subsidize it.

Ted Simons: Would you need -- would supply guarantee these things to attract business and keep business up there?

Richard Lunt: You bet. Any business, if they're going to invest $300 million to set up an infrastructure, then you know what? They need term and they need supply. And they need that guaranteed. And that's what this project will do.

Ted Simons: We talked about political legitimacy and having people that are in public office elected office behind this as well. You got industry, you got environmentalists, the forest service, a lot of folks are on board, a lot of stakeholders. Talk about the congressional delegation. What are you hearing there?

David Tenney: We're getting good support in Congress. Congressman Paul Gosar is behind this. He meets regularly with the chief of the forest service. I got a call from his chief of staff today informing me of the fact the RFP came out from the forest service today on this project. That is great news. Great timing to be talking about this today when that request for proposal just came out today. Senator Kyl, Senator McCain, congressman Flake, all of them have shown support to this project. Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Support for the project, but what does the project need? What kind of money is involved here, how would it be raised? Talk to us about the cost.

Richard Lunt: You know what it needs, it needs -- it needed this RFP, the request for proposal, now it needs contracts so that industry can bid on those contracts and then get doing projects in our forests on a large scale. That's what it needs.

David Tenney: The other thing it needs is Congress has got to appropriate the appropriate money through the forest service to do the planning. The industry will come in and do the harvesting of this timber at no cost. At least that's our plan. We'll see what the bids say. But it makes money to plan. The environmental studies, to clear all of this acreage, that takes millions of dollars to do it across the 2.5 million acre forest. That's where the forest service needs a commitment and they need help from Congress and the department of agriculture to funnel that money there, our point is funnel it there, clean it up, you don't spend near as much suppressing fires.

Ted Simons: When I hear about this type of planning and research that needs to be done. I'm thinking time, we don't have that much time. The forest is burn can. What kind of time frame are we looking at?

Richard Lunt: Hopefully they have 60 days now to review -- the industry does have 60 days, and hopefully come this fall we'll have some contracts out and maybe work can start within a year or two.

David Tenney: Some of the bigger companies are saying within a couple years they get their infrastructure in, they're ready to start cutting trees. So award a contract this Fall. Probably within two to three years were cutting trees.

Ted Simons: Treating 1 million acres. 1 million acres over the next 20 years, is that really doable?

David Tenney: Yes.

Ted Simons: You think it's really doable?

David Tenney: Absolutely. And guess what? That's right at the acreage we've burned in the last eight years between the Rodeo Chediski and the Wallow Fires alone. We can't afford to burn it when we have companies willing to invest the money, put 600 people to work, put $200 million more into the economy, it absolutely will work. We've got to push this forward.

Ted Simons: Gentlemen, good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Richard Lunt: Thank you.

David Tenney: Thank you, Ted.

Mexican American Studies

  |   Video
  • State Superintendent of Schools John Huppenthal discusses his determination that Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program violates a new state law.
  • John Huppenthal - State Superintendent of Schools
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, law,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The Mexican-American studies program at Tucson Unified School District violates a as state law that went into effect at the beginning of the year. That's according to state schools Chief John Huppenthal, who commissioned an audit of the program to determine its legality. Today he released the findings. And tonight superintendent Huppenthal joins us on "Horizon." Good to see you again, thanks for joining us.

John Huppenthal: Great to be here.

Ted Simons: Out of compliance ARS, that’s a lot of gobbledygook there. Let's talk about why the district is out of compliance.

John Huppenthal: Well, when we started -- we set up a whole new framework for analyzing this when I came into office, and we started to go through the entire process by which the class was set up, and we began to see problems in the development of the curriculum for this class. They violated their own board policy that this would come to and be approved by the Tucson unified school district governing board. So they failed to provide that oversight. They violated state law on how you develop curriculum and get that approved. One of the key processes is that you allowed broad-based community input through your board deliberations. That process was completely missing. And then as a further problem, they failed to allow principals to have quality oversight for classes that were taken -- taking place within that principal's school. So that entire curriculum development process that is a key part of the quality education just completely collapsed and there was a dramatic failure there.

Ted Simons: So according to statute, a program that promotes resentment towards race and class prohibited by law, you saw that in this program?

John Huppenthal: Yes. Now, you have a problem because you don't have this approved curriculum by the state board or – by the TUSD governing board, you only have this vague outline of class materials. And so when we go to these class materials and go to approved materials by the TUSD governing board we have no overlap at all. So there's no approval of these materials. So then we had to pull samples of what was actually being done in the class and we saw a myriad of violations of 15-112 in those materials. But again this kind of mess is what happens when you don't follow fundamental procedures for developing a quality educational -- quality educational content.

Ted Simons: Specifically what you call, the mess, promoting resentment, a program designated for kids of a particular ethnicity, you found a violation there as well?

John Huppenthal: Yes. The website specifically outlines this is for a particular ethnicity, there were a variety of materials that outlined that. And plus, when we checked the enrollment in the classes, they are 90% Latino and the overall population is at 60%. So we made that finding in that regard.

Ted Simons: Are they open classes, though? Could white kids or African-American kids go ahead and take these classes if they so chose?

John Huppenthal: They are, but that still doesn't mean that you don't have a violation. Violation comes because the specific targeting of the material for a particular group.

Ted Simons: I'm confused. This is a Mexican-American studies program, it would be, I would imagine, targeted towards studies of Mexican-Americans.

John Huppenthal: That is the key. The content as opposed to the targeting. It was explicit terms saying they were targeting Latino students. And that's the problem that creates the violation.

Ted Simons: Another problem you found was advocating ethnic solidarity instead of having students taught as individual students. Explain what's going on here.

John Huppenthal: Repeatedly in the materials that were used, again, with no oversight by the governing board, we repeatedly saw those type of sort of proselytizing as opposed to development and teaching of history. So those materials we came up with repeated examples of those.

Ted Simons: Can you give me an example of proselytize something how that aspect of the law was broken?

John Huppenthal: Well, without laying it out in detail, perhaps not. We saw that type of thing repeatedly in those materials.

Ted Simons: OK. I want to -- in the statute subsection E talks about classes that are protected, and that you can't restrict or prohibit certain types of courses, including courses open to all students. Which we talked about, so I'm confused about open to all students yet not designated. You saw you saw a differentiation.

John Huppenthal: Well, again, if you're talking about historical content, we have state standards for history, and it's important to note that those state standards completely allow examples of historical injustice. If that's all you're teaching in a class, you're not giving a true account of history. So within our state standards, you have broad ability to develop a curriculum. Again, we can't emphasize enough they didn't go through that process of curriculum development, having their board approve that, complying with that process, we're going to come back to that curriculum development process over and over again. All of the failures that led to this mess come out of their failure to use good processes and development of curriculum.

Ted Simons: Another aspect of this subsection E in the statute, it doesn't allow restriction or prohibition of courses. That discusses controversial aspects of history. How do you discuss controversial aspects much history without someone feeling resentment? There's got to be a fine line, isn't it?

John Huppenthal: Well, there is, again, I'm going to come back to it, because you -- once you abandon a framework for developing of curriculum, when you have that community input, when you have the oversight of the governing board, when you go through that process, all of this comes and these problems are resolved by having good processes for developing educational content. As soon as you get away from that, then you see the materials that we came across, examples of where they went over the line and they were doing stuff that was inflaming the community and causing all of these problems of violations of 15-112.

Ted Simons: And one other subset of 15-12 is teaching of historical oppression of groups based on ethnicity, race, ask class. Again those classes are supposed to be not prohibited and not restricted. I know what you're going to say regarding the curriculum development, but as far as your research is concerned, you found violations there. Correct?

John Huppenthal: Yes.

Ted Simons: Is there any way we can get an example of these things, or is it just a repeated violation?

John Huppenthal: Well, repeated violations, but also explicitly talking about in terms of how it's cast. In terms of being from one viewpoint and talking about it always in terms of content of oppression, of Latinos, by whites, the types of references in that context. Not -- improper -- just improper phraseology, the whole -- how you bring that out we think that's where the violation took place. These things could have been cured by the proper development of a curriculum. Completely -- it's completely possible within state standards and by their board approval to bring out examples of historical injustice. And you can't teach a good history without those examples, but if that's all you're teaching, you're depriving these students of a knowledge of what America is all about. We move forward to a better future because we have these examples of injustice, but you don't focus just on those examples of injustice and you don't twist those examples of injustice to have just one perspective.

Ted Simons: How did you come about your conclusions? Talk about the research, how long it took and how you got your conclusions.

John Huppenthal: We brought in a consulting firm to do a curriculum audit, we employed our own -- we have associate superintendent who presented her findings at the press conference today. She did an in-depth analysis going through the curriculum audit process. So we spent a number of months meeting periodically through that process to review our findings. Pretty much in-depth.

Ted Simons: A couple months for the district to reply, at least try to comply, if they fail to comply, will you go ahead and withhold funds?

John Huppenthal: Absolutely. It's up to 10% of the state level of funding, so it's pretty substantial. The findings themselves lay out a road map, how they would cure this. They've gotten themselves into a heck of a bind by all of these failures to file fundamental policy on how you develop curriculum and how you do quality controls as that curriculum is implemented.

Ted Simons: Last question, those who support the program say they result in higher aims tests, they result in higher graduation rates, and more of these students taking these courses going on to college. How do you respond to that?

John Huppenthal: Well, those are side issues. We would be glad to come back at a separate date, separating those issues and discuss as to whether the Tucson Unified School District is doing a good job for poor and minority students. We think that is a very important discussion. But that's a separate side question from what we were considering today.

Ted Simons: All right. Superintendent good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

John Huppenthal: Great to be here.