No. 491: On clean energy, Hispanic engineers and the autism advantage – plus, finding our religion

Why the long ears: Because it's Easter, of course, though the high holy days have been altered dramatically this spring by the global COVID-19 pandemic.


Needs work: Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to April 10, the umpteenth day of social distancing and the 101st day of a year in need of major improvement.

Mane squeeze: A good day for puppy love.

Interfaith intervention: So, straight from the Feel Better File, there’s this – today is not only Friday, it’s Good Friday, historically a big one for Christians but adapting a more communal tone this year.

April 10 is also National Siblings Day and National Hug Your Dog Day, both packing new and interesting relevance in 2020.

Egg-cellent alternatives: Not the Easter weekend you planned? Worry not – from virtual vigils to online egg hunts, the holiest of holy days and most familial of family gatherings has gone digital.

(Bonus: pandemic-approved menu plans for well-fed, if intimate, Easter and Passover celebrations.)

Original thinking: American innovation might be very different if not for The Act of April 10, 1790, the rather pedestrian-named bill that became the United States’ first patent law.

New York City inventor Walter Hunt pinned it down when he patented the safety pin on April 10, 1849, while Swedish inventor Jernberg Vidar cleared it up when he earned a U.S. patent on April 10, 1928, for his artificial-fog machine.

Animal house: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a pet project of philanthropist Henry Bergh, was founded on this date in 1866.

Bright idea: After 148 years, Arbor Day is still growing.

Branching out: The first American Arbor Day happened on April 10, 1872, in what was then the largely treeless prairie of Nebraska.

Today, the annual celebration – scheduled for April 24 this year – plants millions of trees across all 50 states.

Teed up: The Professional Golfers’ Association of America got into the swing on April 10, 1916.

Sonic bust: And it was the end of an era on this date in 2003, when British Airways and Air France simultaneously announced the retirement of all Concorde supersonic jets, roughly a quarter-century after they entered service.

What a prize: Hungarian-American soldier, newsman and politician Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) – an enterprising newspaper publisher who changed the medium, blurred the line often between journalism and politics and sensationalism and even served one year in the U.S. House of Representatives – would be 173 years old today.

Ming the multilingual: Von Sydow could speak eight (Earth) languages.

Also born on April 10 were German chemist Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), credited with inventing homeopathic medicine; British minister William Booth (1829-1912), who founded the Salvation Army; American inventor Frank Baldwin (1838-1925), who figured out the mechanical calculator; Canadian naturalist Jack Miner (1865-1944), the “father of North American conservationism”; and multifaceted Swedish star Max Von Sydow (1929-2020), who graced more than 150 movies (in various languages) and passed away last month in France.

Love Huerta: And take a bow, Dolores Huerta – the anti-discrimination, pro-farmer activist and labor leader, who co-founded the organization that would become United Farm Workers, turns 90 today.

Wish the agricultural advocate, the homeopathic healer and all the other April 10 innovators well at Pulitzer Prize-winning story tips always appreciated.


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Sunlight at the end of the tunnel: Proving (or at least hoping) that the great pandemic of 2020 won’t last forever, Albany – in addition to coordinating local, statewide and interstate emergency responses – is moving ahead with other business.

That includes the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, now the law and now angling to both combat climate change and jumpstart New York’s post-pandemic economic recovery. Among other things, the package establishes the Office of Renewable Energy Siting, billed as a “first in the nation” innovation designed to streamline siting processes for “environmentally responsible, cost-effective, large-scale renewable energy projects” with statewide benefits.

The law contains several other provisions, including the establishment of a Host Community Benefit Program and generous economic incentives meant to create jobs and otherwise drive economic growth, while honoring Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ambitious energy agenda. “We must continue to move forward and confront our climate crisis in order to protect New Yorkers from the dangerous consequences of a changing climate,” noted NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton. “This new law will … ensure that our enormous pipeline of large-scale renewable energy projects can be responsibly permitted [and] bolster the state’s economy.”

Kevin Dominguez: Chapter and verse.

Latino leverage: Felicidades, Kevin Dominguez, a New York Institute of Technology junior who wanted to empower his school’s Hispanic engineering and technology community and wound up founding New York Tech’s inaugural Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers chapter.

The chapter, based at New York Tech’s Manhattan campus but open also to College of Engineering and Computing Sciences students at NYIT-Old Westbury, launched this semester and already boasts 25 members. As its founding president, Dominguez, an electrical and computer engineering major, aims to highlight New York Tech’s Hispanic presence, help students build leadership and STEM skills and deepen ties to the SHPE, the nation’s largest association dedicated to Hispanic STEM leadership.

“Diversity is key in a successful community, and I thought [the society] would take New York Tech to a new level,” Dominguez said. “What I would like for students to get out of SHPE is job opportunities, STEM skills, networking skills and life-learning skills that you might not get in a regular school environment.”



Think fast: A state funding competition can get smaller manufacturers with PPE chops – and the ability to quickly turn out gear – into the COVID-19 fight.

Greta’s gift: Why environmentalism’s most familiar face is also autism’s greatest advocate, according to an Adelphi professor who gets it better than most.

Prime cuts: From “convalescent serums” to condoms, no telling where the scroll goes next in our ongoing, LI-centric pandemic primer, Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus.



Outthinking the coronavirus, with master innovator Mitch Maiman; playing past the pandemic, with logistics ace Craig Fine; backing ambitious private schools, with the Hempstead LDC.



Innovate LI’s inbox overrunneth with inspirational innovations from all North American corners. This week’s brightest out-of-towners:

From Illinois: Chicago-based “micro-internships” pioneer Parker Dewey helps organizations move their summer-internship programs online.

From New York City: Game-based-learning leader Gamelearn schedules online premiere of new gamified corporate-instruction platforms.

From Arizona: Scottsdale-based fine art gallery/curator/consultant American Fine Art creates a virtual reality experience for sequestered collectors.



Virginia Kawochka

+ Virginia Kawochka, administrator at Uniondale-based Forchelli Deegan Terrana, has been named co-chairwoman of the Nassau County Bar Association’s new Legal Administrators Committee.

+ Jack Majkut has been elected secretary for the Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency and the Town of Hempstead Local Development Corp. He is a business representative of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25.

+ The Rev. Eric Mallette has been elected treasurer for the Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency and the Town of Hempstead Local Development Corp. He serves as commissioner of Hempstead’s Department of Occupational Resources and as pastor of the Greater Second Baptist Church in Freeport.

+ Susan Saban has been appointed director of special services for Lynbrook Public Schools. She previously served as assistant director of pupil services for the Hendricks Union Free School District.

+ Robert Plosky has joined Mineola-based Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone as an associate in the litigation practice group. He was previously principal of Plosky Law in Glen Head.



Heaven on Earth: When will they play ball?

Earthly explanation: Do us followers expect mere human leaders – or godlike saviors?

Sports purgatory: Not dead, not really alive – so when will pro sports rise again?

Manna from heaven: A groundbreaking drone-delivery service for the homebound – or angels from above?

Born again: Long Island may be locked down now, but this too shall pass – and Bridgeworks, topflight transient-business services provider and longtime Innovate LI supporter, will rise again. Check them out.