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John Pursley

BIOGRAPHY

"I begin with the presumption that I know nothing; this allows me to engage in problem-solving with a beginner's eye, envisioning solutions that might not be apparent to the experts in the field. Essentially, I then 'tinker' to solve challenges."

September, 2020, John Pursley

Top left: John Pursley, Electronics Tech

Top right: Mountain top radio landing site

Bottom left: In 1974,John Pursley travelled from Alaska to the D.C. Naval Weapons Lab to bring this Geoceiver back for use by U.S. Bureau of Land Management in preparation for issuing leases for the building of the Trans Alaska Pipeline. The technology was the forerunner to the current GPS system, was developed for the Polaris Nuclear Submarine program, and was a military secret at the time

Bottom right: First solar powered radio repeater

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Beginning in 1968 as an electronics technician assistant (GS-4) for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, John Pursley progressed to Chief of Electronic Systems Design (GS-11) within six years.  John worked with communications and other electronic systems to support the agency's fire fighting and surveying work throughout the new State of Alaska, including mountain-top radio repeaters using the first solar photo-voltaic cells to be brought to Alaska. 

1980

John used this knowledge to hand-build his own off-the-grid solar-powered log home in the mountains overlooking the Turnagain Arm of Alaska's Cook Inlet in the 1970's.  He and wife, Greta, spend their summers there to this day.

In 1980, John and Geoff Feiler founded The Energy Store, growing to two locations and a mail order catalog, providing alternative energy systems and conservation products. They also founded Heat Loss Analysis Inc. (HLA) in 1978 to develop computer software and infrared scanning technologies for the purpose of evaluating heat transfer from residential, commercial and industrial structures, such as the supports for the Trans Alaska Pipeline, being constructed at the time.  

John has delighted in using new technology to solve problems. His contributions included using the just-introduced Apple II computer to write the first comprehensive software program for the energy evaluation of structures in northern climates.  His coding took a full year. Over the following 36 years, tens of thousands of building plans and thousands of existing structures were evaluated by HLA for their heat energy transfer to the environment.  These evaluations led to a better understanding of the influence of building materials and construction techniques on the energy performance of structures in northern climates.

Among his challenges, John reminisces about an oil industry customer. This company needed to find out why a pipeline had unexpectedly ruptured.  John was successful in utilizing infrared scanning to identify the unique signature of water trapped inside the pipeline insulation. “Where there is heat, there’s entrapped water, and combined with steel...corrosion is likely”. Scanning, display, recording, and battery equipment had to be hardened for hand-held use at temperatures down to minus 40 degrees.  A successful field demonstration resulted in a multi-year contract to inspect 80 miles of elevated Alaskan pipelines, by workers on snowshoes, in the arctic winter, and in darkness. The oil industry continued to use this technique; and as a result, corrosion on insulated pipelines was found and repaired before the pipelines failed.

Right: Certificate of Commission in the office of Alaska Energy Center

 

Left: Certificate honoring Autogenesis, Inc. for its invention of the Automater

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During his early years, John was appointed by Alaska's Governor, Jay Hammond,to direct the startup of the Alaska Energy Center, a research and development agency focused on alternative energy (solar, wind, micro-hydro, co-generation, and energy conservation), funded by the state.  John was elected Chairman of the board of directors which included members from the National Science Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University, Alaska oil industry, and University of Alaska.

1988

In 1988, together with co-inventors Robert (Brett) Thomas and Dr. Jordan (Mike) Holloway, an orthopedic surgeon, John founded Autogenesis, Inc. which developed a computerized system to activate the movement of an external fixator for regeneration of human limbs. “I felt so privileged to be able to contribute automation to the Russian Dr. Gavriil Ilizarov discovery of distraction histogenesis: the re-growth of all tissue in limbs”.  Patents were received, $3M was raised through private and venture capital offerings, FDA clearance was achieved, and products entered the orthopedics market during John's 5-year role as Chairman and President. Autogenesis provided a more reliable course of treatment with less pain for the patient.  The process continues today, impacting children with limb deformities, amputees, veterans, and others worldwide who need this treatment to achieve a better quality of life.

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1998

John founded Envision Product Design in 1993.  In the early years, his efforts were focused on developing robotic crawlers for inspection of above ground pipelines using gamma and x-rays.  In 1998, John and his former customer, John Cope, an industry-experienced radiographer, joined up and ventured outside Alaska to win a project with Boeing Aircraft to develop a unique x-ray system for automated inspection of titanium welds using a newly developed CMOS dental imager.  This project opened the door to further projects in custom-designed x-ray systems for customers including Honeywell, Westinghouse, Michelin Tire, US Navy, US Army, Bechtel Bettis, Dow Chemical, Sandia Nat Labs, South Korea Electric Power Institute, American Ordinance, National Security Agency, Hyundai, Doosan Heavy Industries, and DSM Pharmaceuticals.

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Left: Appreciative patient with the Automator™

 

Middle Left: The Automator™: strong, light-weight, waterproof, long battery life, remanufactured for each patient

Middle: John Pursley with Dr. Mike Holloway and his first patient to have an automated llizarov procedure

Middle Right: Duel limb lengthening up to 6 inches, stimulates sympathetic growth

Right: John Pursley with Dr. Dror Paley and his patient, John Scully, the first use of the Autogenesis Automator™ outside Alaska

Top: John Pursley with the MagSteer™: fast, light-weight,
and magnetic wheels or studded snow tires as required

 

Bottom: Digital model of pipeline crawler using Gamma radiation

The tragic events of September 11, 2001 produced a new challenge. Years before, John and his team had developed a hand-held video x-ray tool for the Alaska oil industry for use on elevated pipelines. It was the only hand-held x-ray system providing live video imagery. With the creation of the US Department of Homeland Security and the increased interest in bomb detection, this tool was noticed.  After 2 years of further refinement, the OpenVision system was approved as a Dept. of Homeland Security counter-terrorism tool. All certified bomb techs are trained in using it at the FBI Hazardous Devices School.  Now, over 80% of all bomb squads in the US, and many US

allies use OpenVision. Lives have been saved by finding and helping defuse bombs before

they activate.

Main: Police search the Boston Marathon bombers' apartment with OpenVision™ X-ray before the brothers were apprehended

 

Bottom left: John recognized as a mentor by the Siemens Foundation

Bottom middle: Hand-held OpenVision™ in case

Bottom right: OpenVision™ installed on bomb robot 

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Other customers for digital x-ray included aerospace companies: Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, McDonald Douglas, Goodrich Aerostructures, and NASA. 


John and his team developed x-ray imaging tools for NASA at Johnson Space Center, Michoud Assembly Facility, and Kennedy Space Center for inspection of various parts of the Space Shuttles and launch vehicles, both pre and post flight. 

2003

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After the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion in 2003, John won the contract from Lockheed Martin for his company to design and build a one-of-a-kind digital x-ray system to inspect the leading edge of the wings of remaining Shuttles before they were allowed to return to flight.  “I imagined it could be done, but this challenge scared me to death”.  The envisioned automated x-ray system needed the largest format (48x48 inches) and highest resolution (80 microns) ever produced by anyone.  Each x-ray image would have a quarter of a billion pixels.  The contract's extraordinarily short 8-month timeframe for design, development, installation and training was met, on time and on budget.  

Top: Technicians combing through recovered piece of the Shuttle Columbia 

 

Bottom left: New shuttle wing being tested

Bottom right: Envision Product Design promotion of space shuttle innovations in digital radiography

“I was so excited to realize my childhood dream of contributing to the aerospace industry”. 

2010

In December of 2010, John's company was acquired by ITW, and John retired.  He then full-filled a 40-year plan of getting his private pilot license and building a Searey amphibious airplane from a kit.  During his transition training to seaplanes, he discovered the challenge of judging the approach to smooth, glassy water.  Finding that there were not available instruments to help, he was motivated to form Pursley Design LLC and pull together a small team to develop a compact and affordable radar altimeter.  FlareAssist™ has now been introduced to help pilots land on smooth water, safely and with confidence.  Most recently, the device has proven useful to air tanker pilots while scooping water for fire fighting.

Top: Pursley Design LLC logo

Bottom: Aerial Tanker Fire Boss aircraft that are benefiting from the use of FlareAssist™ 

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2022

Introducing eHydro!

Welcome to the new age of marine propulsion!  John has taken the iconic William Jackson designed "Three Point Sport Hydro" and brought it into the world of EV's. He entered William's plans from a 1962 issue of Popular Science into CAD.  John assembled a CNC panel cutter to make all the parts from mahogany, and then assembled and hand finished the first eHydro. Three iterations of electric motors, controllers, props, and battery configurations have thus far resulted in an exciting ride, up to 40mph (the goal is 50).  Motor and controller overheating continue to be challenging. 

Click here to learn more! Make sure to scroll down to John Pursley – Star Lake, Florida – 2021. 

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WHAT'S NEXT?

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