James McCornack

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Team Culturing Information

Last updated: Feb 21, 2012

WHO are you?

  • Name - James Danger McCornack--please call me Jack
  • Location (city, country) - Cave Junction, Oregon
  • Contact Information (email, skype, phone) - jack (at) kineticvehicles [dot] com
  • Picture -
  • Introductory Video -
  • Resume/CV -

Writer and designer, president and design chief of Kinetic Vehicles and Kinetic Aerospace. Former founder/president/design chief of Cuyunair Corp which designed and manufactured lightweight IC engines for small aircraft and UAVs, ditto Pterodactyl Ltd which designed and manufactured light and ultralight aircraft, and designed, prototyped, tested and demonstrated UAVs for major aircraft manufacturers.

Kinetic Vehicles designs/develops open source vehicles and provides components to individual constructors. Kinetic Aerospace designs/develops/supplies/services operational stunt and special effect aircraft for action adventure films. Ain't gonna study war no more, but don't mind playing Let's Pretend.

WHY are you motivated to support/develop this work?

  • Do you endorse open source culture?

Yes. I live by it.

  • Why are you interested in collaborating with us?

Shared ideals, primarily, but also Open Source Ecology has a niche in the GVCS that fits me like a glove. At present (mid-Feb 2012) the Open Source Automobile project seems unlikely to meet its scheduled completion date of 12/31/12 without adult supervision, so I have offered to design and build the first prototype.

It seems like this is one project that is running out of time. I like volunteering where I can make a difference, and I can help with this one.

  • How do you think that the GVCS can address pressing world issues?

By doing what it says it's going to do. You've read it all before; the whole point of the GVCS is to address pressing world issues, right?

I'm a one trick pony; I'll probably only work on the OS Car and leave the other 49 GVCS components to folks with skills and experience I lack (okay, I may get involved on the OS Truck if the car thing works out). So speaking only of the OS Car project, I think individuals and small manufacturers can lead the way to efficient and appropriate transportation, which will reduce our culture's waste of fuel and energy, and I think that's a pressing world issue.

  • What should happen so that you become more involved with the project?

The specifications for the OS Car need to be readdressed. It's a tilting three wheeler here and an Urbee-like car there, tandem seating for reduced air resistance and three wheels for reduced weight on one page, but it has a Power Cube on another page...as my dad used to say, "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

  • What is missing in the project?

The OS Car concept has a number of mutually exclusive features, and management needs to discard one of each conflicting pair so an actual car can be built. I know it's tough, it drove me crazy as a kid, I'd want this AND that instead of this OR that and I wouldn't get either; to quote my dad again, "You want to be an astronomer but you don't want to work nights."

The other thing missing is commitment to the task. There's so much to do on the GVCS 50; I think top management should choose a project manager for the OS Car (and other managers for other components of the GVCS), and get started.

  • What are your suggestions for improvement of the project?

Either start the OS Car project immediately, or stop saying it will be done this year. Any of the GVCS components that aren't in whatever plan management has for completion should be dropped, pure and simple. If fundraising is geared around finishing the GVCS 50 this year, but the management only intends to do 20 of them, well, call it the GVCS 20 and let the sponsors and contributors know which projects will fall by the wayside.

I think most OSE sponsors and potential sponsors (including myself) will be looking for deeds not words this year. A project that isn't finished on its promised delivery date, that just looks like unexpected problems caused a delay, but we all know things happen and an explanation will suffice. A project that hasn't even been started by its promised delivery date, well, that looks like deception, and contributors wonder where their money went.

WHAT are your skills?

  • List all of your skills in these areas: Communications - Organizational - Computer Support - Finances - Design - Natural Building - Electronics - Automation - Metallurgy - Engineering - Fabrication - Agriculture - Energy - Architecture - Video/Graphics/Art - PR/Marketing - Education - Construction - Industry - CNC - Chemistry - Product Design - Other

Communications: Good writing skills. I've sold over a million non-fiction words to various magazines, written over a dozen assembly and shop manuals.

Engineering: Considerable experience in aeronautical, mechanical, and structural engineering. Over 10,000 examples of my aircraft designs in the world fleet, roughly 20,000 examples of my engines.

PR/Marketing: That's what sold those aircraft and engines.

CNC: I got impatient waiting for the GVCS CNC Torch/Router Table and built my own last year. I hand-write G Code for simple things, translate from Autocad and Rhino for complex things.

Product Design: A century or so ago, somebody clever said "An engineer is a man who can do for a farthing what any fool can do for a pound." I design with the farthing in mind.

  • How have you already contributed to the project?

In 2010 I spoke at length with Marcin re how to get a car design off of the cocktail napkin and onto the road, and what is necessary to achieve 100 mpg in normal driving. In 2011 I demonstrated the OS Car was an achievable goal by building my own low budget two-seat fuel sipper* (its best competition result to date is 127 mpg in a hundred miles of mixed rural road, town traffic, and freeway driving at the Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge...thank you, thank you, hold your applause). So if any nay-sayers have been telling him, "I dunno, Marcin, maybe the OS Car can't be done," I hope my example has blown them out of the water.

Yeah, really. My license number is MAX MPG; that's enough of a clue for google.

HOW can you help?

  • How are you interested in contributing to the work of GVCS development?

The Car/Research_Development wiki page describes the OS Car as "...Low Cost (less than $12,000), Ease of Construction (1000 hours of construction time..." when it's sorted out, and I believe I can design and build the first prototype in half the hours, with an additional $3000 for outside labor and overhead, at my facility in Oregon, in the 10 months remaining in this year.

That's what I've calculated, but if I am wrong, I will pay any additional costs and perform (or hire) additional labor as needed for completion in 2012.

  • Can you volunteer to work with us, and if so, how many hours per week?

Yes, hours as needed to finish on schedule. I have offered 500 hours of my engineering and fabrication time, total, which will vary from week to week.

Perhaps "work with us" is not totally accurate, since I'll be performing the work in my own shop, a la the Ironworker project, etc. FeF does not have the tools and equipment necessary (though it will once the other GVCS 49 are built) and I don't see the OS Car prototype as a dirt floor, half a kilowatt hour a day project--my laptop and hand tools will suck that up in a few hours, my welder and plasma cutter will go through that power budget in 20 minutes.

  • Are you interested in working with us for pay? If so, what services can you offer, and what is your hourly or per-project rate?

No, I'm not interested in working with you for pay. I'm interested in volunteering. But if you're curious, my hourly rate is $50 an hour and it's doubled for rush jobs, doubled again for hazardous jobs. My per-project rate is typically in six digits, but I've gone as low as $50k for a facelift on something I've done before, such as when a manufacturer wants a distinctive product based on one of my existing designs.

My services run the full range of vehicle and aircraft design, development, and support, from concept to execution. It can start with dinner conversation and a handshake, get designed, get built, do its job, and end up in the Smithsonian. Does Mr. Bond have to get into North Korea unseen? No prob, I'll build him a cross between a sport bike and an air superiority fighter.

Doing occasional well-paid trivial jobs gives me the freedom to do work of consequence for free.

Maybe when I deliver the car.

We'll have to come up with a set of product specifications by phone and email, because we don't have a lot of time and an unnecessary flight to FeF clashes with my ethics. The point of high mileage vehicles is to conserve fuel, and airliners burn it by the barrel. Unfortunately we can't go any farther until we decide things like how many wheels it's going to have and which one(s) are going to steer. Sure, I can do busy-work, like write up Bill of Materials and Failure Mode Effects Analysis for every OS Car imagined to date (a la the Bid Proposal Template) but it's not coming out of my 500 volunteer hours.

  • Are you interested in purchasing equipment from us to help bootstrap development?

Perhaps, but not today. I do enjoy making stuff, quite a bit more than I enjoy buying stuff.

  • Are you interested in bidding for consulting/design/prototyping work?

I've offered to design and fab the first prototype. If it goes well, I'd like to bid on some of the other OS Car tasks (e.g. documentation, 2nd or 3rd prototypes) and if everybody at OSE is happy with my work on the car, I'll make an offer on the truck tasks.

No. 500 work hours is contribution enough. If I'm not the prototype guy for you, no problem and I'll find other ways to support the project. For example, I'll start mailing OSE money when OSE starts building the OS Car.

  • Would you like to see yourself working with us on a full-time basis?

It could happen, if you keep coming up with interesting and/or useful projects. I'd need to take a month off now and then so I could do something that pays, or I'll eventually run out of grocery money.

  • Are you interested in being part of the world's first, open source, resilient community? The GVCS is the preparatory step for the OSE Village Experiment – a 2 year, immersion experiment (2013-2014) for testing whether a real, thriving, modern-day prototype community of 200 people can be built on 200 acres using local resources and open access to information? We are looking for approximately 200 people to fill a diverse array of roles, according to the Social Contract that is being developed. This may be the boldest social experiment on earth - a pioneering community whose goal is to extend the index of possibilities regarding harmonious existence of humans, ecology, and technology.

Not as described in the current version of the Social Contract (all quotes from http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Factor_e_Farm_Social_Contract_v1.0 ) which has "only those who can rise to this challenge are invited to participate" standards that I find downright creepy. For example, the requirement of "...being fully able-bodied, since many tasks at FeF involve physical work" seems to me like a prejudice supported by a rationalization, and I wouldn't spend two years in a community with a "fully able-bodied" entry requirement, any more than I'd spend two years in a community with a Fully Caucasian requirement, even if supported by a similar rationalization (e.g. since many tasks require swimming). "...many tasks at FeF involve physical work" is true I'm sure, but many people with disabilities can (and do) physical work, and not all tasks involve physical work.

Ditto the "Ability to hold one’s own weight intellectually...This level of ability is comparable to the level found at the post-graduate level in academia" requirement. I might be able to squeak by (I'm not one of the 6% of Americans with a Master's Degree or a Doctorate, but I test well and I'm glib) but it doesn't mean I'd want to spend years in a community where the "Ability to hold one’s own weight intellectually" is so tightly defined. Again it seems like a rationalization to justify elitism.

So no, I'm not interested in being a part of this bold social experiment, unless OSE wants to run it like a genuine experiment, in which case I'd consider being in the control group; the community made up of people who qualify to perform the tasks. Not every task requires every ability; I can't cook worth a hoot, but if the cook uses a wheelchair (or is short, or is nearsighted) I can help by getting the oregano down from the top shelf, and I might not be the best candidate for building a compressed earth wall, but if the best candidate is weak on trig (or is disgraphic, or simply can use his/her time better elsewhere) I can figure out how much dirt will be required. We might find this community is more productive than the Only the Brightest and Fittest community being tested; in practice in an OSE/GVCS community, a journeyman welder with a certificate from a trade school might meet the "hold one’s own weight intellectually" requirement better than an astronomer with a PhD.

I'd be even more interested in living two years with 200 people self-selected (by volunteering) but otherwise covering the spectrum of U.S. demographics. I'd consider that a genuinely bold social experiment. Having this community meet its social responsibilities by exclusion and eviction ("...the absence of the welfare state in this scenario means that everybody must take accountability for their survival, or perish." "...non-productive members of the community will be given ample chance to reform, or be evicted upon failure to do so") seems to conflict with its greater goals, and if goal of the "experiment" is to compare an OSE Village with the existing social structure, it would be best to have a way of dealing with non-productive members (whether temporary or because their clock is ticking) besides kicking granny to the curb if she breaks her hip, or gets so addled that she can only carry a Bachelor of Science level of intellectual weight.