SDSU, VACIS, and Articles on the Horizon

Speaking at SDSU

On Friday, September 28, I had the opportunity to speak at the San Diego State University Aztec Center regarding SAIC and employee ownership, and The SAIC Solution. There were about 200 students and faculty who attended, including Dr. Stephen Weber — president of SDSU — and Dr. Gangaram Singh, professor and chair of management as well as the co-director for the Center for International Business Education and Research at SDSU (see Dr. Singh’s review of the book on this blog). I initiated the event by giving a short talk about my SAIC experience, and how I happened to write the book. Tom Darcy then joined me in answering
questions. We answered some questions about other subjects the attendees were interested in. One of the questions I was asked was “What was the high point of your experience at SAIC?” I said that winning our first billion-dollar contract (CHCS) was certainly a high point. Also, the success of our involvement in the America’s Cup competition was a high point. The implications for the management of SAIC were significant. I was convinced after talking to Malin Burham that the company should come out from under the rock to exchange information with other companies and to talk to reporters interested in SAIC. Up until that time, I had refused to do either. Building a commercial business was also a high point, as I had thought it impossible to do that because of entrenched competition such as that from the National Labs and architect/engineering firms. The attendee response to learning more about employee ownership and SAIC was very rewarding, and many of the audience suggested ad hoc questions before I was done. All in all, it was an excellent session, and I think it will be a prototype for future university sessions. The university bookstore also sold books at the event and I signed them.

Visiting the VACIS Facility

On Monday, September 24, my son Jim and I visited the VACIS research, development, and manufacturing facility in Rancho Bernardo, California. My son Jim works there. We were shown around by Alex Preston, the business unit manager, and his assistant. The business unit focuses on non-destructive testing, and the problems that need to be solved are the detection of arms, contraband, munitions of any sort, and anything unusual that seems inconsistent with the manifest on the shipping container. This is the objective we have had for many years, and now it seems to be within reach. In fact, many VACIS units have been shipped overseas to ports such as Hong Kong and also to Iraq. The sales numbers are increasing for the cargo inspection system and the truck inspection system.

Planning Future Articles

I’m planning to write some articles soon, and here are some of the topics I’m thinking about. Please let me know of good reference material or any input you have on these topics:

  • The green economy
  • The real danger of running out of water
  • Global warming
  • Nuclear power
  • Tagging (the importance of using radio frequency ID, in addition to barcodes to identify whether a container has been modified after it was sealed)
  • The fact that computing power seems to be growing faster than Moore ‘s Law would predict
  • Robotics and its promising future
  • Thoughts on the aging process and what’s being done medically to extend life

Finally, here is a recent article by me on Unlocking the Power of Ownership published at, as well as a comment I made about an interesting article on the Importance of Creativity written by Amy Hoak at

— Bob