Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2016 - 26

From Idea to Ideal:
Life Lessons
I Learned from
Bill Gruver
by Dilip B. Kotak

L

et me begin with expressing
my sincere gratitude to the
IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society (SMCS) for giving me
this opportunity to talk about Bill Gruver, whom I knew and respected for
over 20 years. Our relationship blurred
the lines of personal friend, mentor,
collaborator, partner, and colleague.
It was an all-encompassing relationship with which I was blessed. Even
when our paths did not cross as often, the bond always stayed strong.
I met Bill in 1995 when I was presenting a proposal to Avcorp Industries Inc., for the three-dimensional
(3-D) simulation of their aircraft parts
manufacturing line. I was representing the National Research Council of
Canada as a principal research officer,
and Bill, a professor from Simon Fraser University, was there to support
the client by asking tough questions.
What struck me immediately was how
I never felt uncomfortable even with
the toughest questions he asked, and
he asked many questions. For years, I
observed Bill in many technical meetings with clients, research collaborators, students, and others all over the
world, and I noticed that this skill was
unique to him. This led me to think
about what made him so different,
and I found a number of other unique
qualities that Bill possessed.
I'll illustrate this fact by sharing a
personal story that occurred most fre-

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MSMC.2016.2598385
Date of publication: 18 October 2016

26

quently. Bill and I did a lot of our work
from my home, sitting at the breakfast
table in the kitchen. My wife loves to
feed everyone who visits us, and so Bill
always shared food and special Indian
tea with us. No sooner had Bill tried a
new specialty, than he would immediately start asking how it was made, the
ingredients that were used, and where
to buy them. Then, on his way home,
he would stop at those places, buy the
ingredients that he did not already
have, go home, and make that same
item that very evening. Without fail we
would receive a call from him asking,
"Guess what I just made, Dilip?" And
he would proceed to tell us that, somehow, it did not come out the same.
He would remake those recipes until
he got them perfect. This illustrates
how curious he always was, wanting
to learn new things not only on the

technical side of his life, but also on
the personal side. And, this curiosity
is what made him so special.
When I met Bill, his research focus
was on robotics, with a particular emphasis on the gripping aspect of robotic hands. Soon after we met, we began
to look at the whole robot. Avcorp was
considering using two collaborative
robots to apply rivets and fasteners to
an aircraft part, a first in the industry.
The part required over 7,000 rivets.
The issue was not only programming
the robots to do the job collaboratively but to optimize the whole sequence
while keeping in mind the guidelines
on preparing such assemblies. We
used 3-D robotics simulation for this
purpose. This is an example of how
Bill was always ready to expand his
horizons. Consider the following sequence of Bill's vision in optimization
and simulation that I witnessed:
◆ robotic hands and gripping
◆ collaborating robots for application of fasteners in aircraft part
manufacturing
◆ manufacturing facilities that
included sawmills, windows and
doors manufacturing, fuel-cell
manufacturing, and hydrogen manufacturing
◆ fully distributed energy systems
◆ application of radio-frequency
identification (RFID) systems.
As a result of his deep desire to
learn and explore new interests in addition to robotics, optimization, and

gruver (left) and Dilip Kotak (right) with Dilip's friends in milan, Italy.

IEEE SyStEmS, man, & CybErnEtICS magazInE October 2016



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2016

Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2016 - Cover1
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2016 - Cover2
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2016 - 1
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Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2016 - Cover3
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