I was attending a talk describing the results of an important study. The auditorium was large, dark, cold, and sparsely populated. At the conclusion, there was a call for questions, and as usual there was a substantial pause when it appeared that no questions would be forthcoming. I was looking forward to the warmth outside the doors when the first hand went up.

More questions followed the first one, and I noted with enough interest to write this column that the first four questions all started with the same four words: ”Are you aware of�?” In each case, these four words were followed by obscure references to work done in unfamiliar places by people I didn’t know. I had been impressed with the study and with the expertise of the speaker, but after these questions, I wasn’t so sure any longer.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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