Meet Dan:

Dan Bihn

I'm Dan Bihn and I bring 25 years of cross-cultural engineering, communications, and journalism experience to your projects and programs.

I co-create engaging digital media products that help you and your team transcend the limits of geography, culture, and technical literacy. I first tease out the essence of your story (that's the system engineer side of me) and then create products to communicate its meaning and significance to a diverse audience - inside organizations, between organizations, and with the public (that's the journalist side of me).

I write and photograph on renewable energy topics for Solar Today Magazine and a variety of non-profit and governmental organizations.

I lived in Japan for more than 7 years, and speak Japanese. I am currently writing a series of articles on "Post-Nuclear Japan" for Solar Today Magazine.

And one of my favorite gigs is teaching courses on renewable energy and the smart grid for the highly respected corporate training company, Enerdynamics, Inc. Most of these courses are held at electric utilities around the country. While the courses I teach are designed for general audiences, I often find industry experts sitting next to non-technical new-hires in my classes. And it totally works for everyone.

In the press...    

 

 

New York Times 11/19 2007

You don't get quoted in the New York Times everyday -- which according some of my former friends is a good thing.

This is an excellent article by Kirk Johnson pointing out that as we move into a low-carbon economy, we will face some difficult trade-offs.

I strongly believe that nuclear power is not needed -- better choices are already here. But also believe we must have an open public dialog about this. I have a great deal of confidence that our fellow citizens are capable of understanding the issues and making the right choices.

 

My quote from this article was even featured in a 2009 book called "Engineering Ethics : concepts and cases" -- Hey, maybe we can all get along as we wind down the road of sustainability.

 

Forestry Notes, October 2007

The Flexible Energy Community idea is gaining traction. I was interviewed by Forestry Notes -- I almost sound intelligent. Next time I plan to use verbs and things like that.

Patents...    

US Patent 5,751,737 5/12/1998. Boundary Scan Testing Device

OK, this doesn't have anything to do with new energy -- and it wasn't really a very good idea. But the corporate lawyers lawyers at Hewlett-Packard, where I was working at time, try to patent everything they can so that when another company sues them, they can counter-sue and then settle out-of-court. No, really!

 

US Patent 4,476,869 10/16/1984, Pacer Analyzer

This was a good idea. It is for a testing heart pacemakers and patients at the same time to verify the particular pacemaker is a good match and will work. I did this work in 1979 or so when I was 6-years old (OK, it's been a long while and I can't don't remember).

The cool thing is that I'm the sole inventor. As is usual, the company that paid for my time and all the legal fees (Intermedics Inc., now defunct) got all the rights -- probably worth a couple of beers, if you account for inflation.

 

US Patent 4,290,430 9/22/1981, Pacer Analyzer

This is just another part of the above idea. In fact, I'm not really sure what the difference is -- but I suspect it is insignificant very important.

I wish I could read the language of patents (not really).

Japan...    
 

Japanese Language Proficiency Level One Certificate 2/19/1992

This is rather amazing -- something like a black belt in Japanese, which I really do speak. But the highest level of the Japanese Ministry of Education's test? Hmm... I don't know about that. There are two important things you should know:

  • I got nearly the lowest possible passing score you could get: 287 out of 400 -- passing score was 280. Precision test-taking at its finest.
  • While my Japanese has improved since 1992, the test has gotten a lot harder (so don't expect me to try this again!).
 

Nikkei Electronics 5/11/1992

I wrote the original article in English with some notes in Japanese. The editorial staff did an amazing job of writing this actual Japanese.

It is a short editorial written in a humorous (well, it made me laugh anyway) dialog style -- Galileo meets Spy vs. Spy sort of thing -- exploring and exploding the myth that Japanese Salary Men are not individualists and Americans are. Subtle, but true!

 

Dan presents to the Japan Pellet Club, Nagano 11/12-20/2008

In 2005, I put together a 3 weeks fact-finding visit to Japan to see what was going on in the wood biomass industry looking for another fun gig. When I was getting ready for this trip, I discovered the Japan Pellet Club -- the wood pellet industry association of Japan. When I Skyped to introduce myself to the president, Ken Kojima, we were both amazed to find out that he had visited Fort Collins 15 years ago when his dad was a visiting researcher at Colorado State University. We were even more amazed to find out that he had stay at my Japanese teacher's home! Small world, eh?

Anyway, I was invited to speak at the 2008 Annual Pellet Club Meeting about progress in the US/Colorado wood pellet market since I last presented to this association in 2005. Some in the audience were impressed that I could speak Japanese; I was impressed that they could understand it!

 

Japan Trip & Yamagata 11/12-20/2008

This was a multi-purpose trip:

  • I was invited to give a presentation in Nagano on the US/Colorado pellet industry (see above)
  • I've been dabbling working with Yamagata Prefectural (Colorado's sister state) representatives on developing biomass trade and exchange for the past 5-years and our Governor was planning a visit at the same time with some of the CSU researchers I hang out with
  • It had been 3-years since I had had a decent meal
  • I have a couple ideas for Solar Today articles I wanted to research & photograph
  • I had a ton of frequent flier miles that might get devalued in an airline bankruptcy

Community...

   
 

Dr. Chicken Poop, I presume 2010-11 (3-miute video)

I was drinking beer with Kevin, a friend of mine here in town that raises urban chickens at his suburban home. He was bragging about how beautiful his chickens were. When his wife had to leave town to take care of her ailing mother, he got board and we made this video.

Kevin is a veterinarian and when he was in the Peace Corps, he helped a small African school get into the chicken business using a technique called Deep Liter. Now you, too, can learn these secrets.

After we made the video, we decided it needed some music. So, we asked another friend of mine, Ken Beecken, to write an original score. John Williams, watch out!

 

Robert Kennedy, Jr. Rocks the Fort 04/13/2009

Katie Hoffner used her magic wand to put together "Environmental Heroes to Provide Vision on How to Make Renewable Energy Communities a Reality" here in Fort Collins. And she did it in just a few weeks. Amazing.

Please feel free to use these photos for non-commercial use and for any use by non-profit organizing. And credit is much appreciated (please). All other uses restricted.

 

Midsummer Night's Dream 12/07/2008

A good friend of mine, Mako Beecken, wrote and directed this amazing Japanese language version of Shakespeare's classic. She heads the Colorado State University's Japanese Language Program - when she's not rewriting history.

I volunteered to be her Paparazzo for the event. Check it out. My lighting skills have improved - in large part due to Dave Hobby (a.k.a., "The Strobist"), whose blog and DVD are brilliant, and Joe McNally, whose books and online training classes are awesome. Both of this guys are close personal friends of mine have no idea who the heck I am, but they're the best.

I do these kinds of projects for both generous and selfish reasons (hey, I get to use these skills in my high-end technical communication projects!), but at the end of the day, its really fun and energizing.

 

Be Local Winter 2009 Kick-off

Gailmarie does it again! 2,100+ folks showed up at the Opera Gallery to buy some fresh produce and to get an early start on Holiday shopping.

And here're the pictures to prove it: photo gallery (all rights reserved by Be Local Northern Colorado – use freely with photo credit "Be Local Northern Colorado").

 

Be Local Coupon Book 2006

The Be Local movement encourages buying and reinvesting your money (and soul) locally.

I was the official volunteer "paparazzo" for the awesome work of Gailmarie Kimmel and her team.

 

Blair Leasure's Award Winning Oil Painting

About 5 years ago, I showed a friend of mine, Blair Leasure, some of the photos I made in my early twenties (yes they had color back then, but no, they didn't have digital cameras). She liked the composition and proceeded to create the painting on the left. I think it looks much better than the original!

Dan's Boring Bio

Dan is a strategic communication engineer – combining system engineering, marketing, policy making, and communicating the results in a compelling photo journalistic package.

He is on a mission to connect to decision-makers (policy makers, governmental and non-governmental agencies, investors, and -- most importantly -- citizens) to key existing and emerging low carbon energy technology by designing outreach programs, demonstration projects, and communication pieces (articles, websites, and booklets).

Climate change and the environmental impacts of our collective use of energy pose one of the 21st Century’s most critical challenges. Dan believes that technology will only be a solution if decisions-makers choose wisely. This requires that key scientific and technical concepts be communicated in a meaningful, understandable, and actionable way. This doesn’t mean “dumbing down” or glossing over difficult content; it means teasing out the conceptual essence of the technology and presenting it in an inviting, understandable, and memorable way.

Dan received a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of California, Davis in 1986. He has 20 years of professional experience in the high-tech sector as a product development engineer in areas ranging from cardiac pacemakers and undersea robotic vehicles to greenhouse control systems. Dan spent 7 years in Japan as a student and engineer doing product development and technology transfer. He is fluent in Japanese and can use chopsticks very well.

Occasionally Dan talks in the 3rd person, which is really confusing, but he's undergoing treatment at this time.

He holds 3 US patents, 1 Japanese patent, and has written and photographed several articles on energy and environment in popular press.