A few months ago, I was asked to participate in a project with D&AD, headquartered in London. The project was called The Story Works. A group of writers from around the world were asked to select a film, play, book, movie or advertisement that worked and show how the story worked. My choice was Robert Frank’s The Americans. Continue Reading
Inventing CALMAC: The Making of a Greener Future
“We believe in making a positive impact.”
Mark M. MacCracken, CEO, CALMAC
On March 22, 1947 in New York City, Calvin ‘Cal’ MacCracken, a 27 year old New Jersey engineer, graduate of Princeton and MIT, launched his dream—a creative engineering firm named Jet Heet, Inc. Early clients were Whirlpool and Westinghouse, who signed on for research and development work.
Cal was as curious as he was enthusiastic and brilliant. He’d developed the combustion chamber for the world’s first jet engine at GE up in Schenectady, New York. It was Theodore Edison, the son of Thomas Edison, who had urged Cal to pursue his love of engineering. Jet Heet’s credentials were rock solid and impeccable.
Two hundred and fifty inventions, eighty patents
One breakthrough invention followed another. A high-efficiency home heating furnace borrowed technology from Cal’s jet engine work. A temperature distribution system was used in the Apollo astronauts’ space suits. The Ice Mat skating rink was hugely successful and is still widely used. The company tested and developed a rollout solar collector mat. The company Cal founded invented 250 products, with Cal eventually holding eighty patents. Recognition came with a Life Magazine story and an appearance on the Today Show .
CALMAC, Fairlawn, New Jersey
Cal moved the company to New Jersey in 1949 and by 1964, he’d renamed it CALMAC. When Cal’s son Mark M. MacCracken joined the company in the mid 1970s, it was against the friendly advice of his siblings. But he was just out of college and concerned about the environment; he wanted to make a difference. CALMAC was conducting research and development on solar energy and thermal energy storage was one idea that held real promise.
From fire to ice
On the night of December 23rd, 1980, a massive blaze engulfed the building Cal had bought the previous year. Everything was lost. But in just four weeks, light manufacturing began. Mark M. MacCracken led design and construction efforts for a new building that would take two full years. “The fire was probably the best thing that could have happened to us,” said Mark. “Overnight, we had a clean slate and little money. We decided to focus on one area, thermal energy storage.” Cal had invented—and standardized—how a thermal energy storage system could be tied into a conventional cooling system.
This is an excerpt.