Local roboticist leaves machines to future engineers

Nathan Baker • May 29, 2014 at 9:21 AM

A local engineer is moving to another state, but leaving some of his automated creations in Johnson City.

Dan Krill, a work-at-home electrical engineer for multi-national firm Schneider Electric, is moving to Kentucky with his wife, Kaleigh, who graduated recently from the James H. Quillen College of Medicine and accepted a residency at the University of Kentucky’s teaching hospital.

With a maxed-out, 26-foot rented moving truck three years ago when he moved from Nashville to Johnson City to be closer to his wife, Krill said he decided to leave many of his robotics creations and equipment behind to serve future generations of aspiring engineers at East Tennessee State University.

“We already filled the largest truck three-and-a-half years ago, and I’ve just been accruing more,” he said. “We need to start displacing some things, so I’m donating some very usable parts to the engineering department.”

Krill, recruited by Schneider out of Virginia Tech, says “tinkering and experiments” with robotics is a side hobby of his.

The 31-year-old has designed several unmanned devices, and hopes to some day contribute to space exploration (when Kayleigh is making “doctor money”).

“My love of science started when my parents gave me a Tyco toy microscope for Christmas,” he said. “Since then, I’ve been obsessed with science, destroying at least three expensive vacuum cleaners by taking them apart and building things with them.”

Under the moniker Krill Laboratories, he has designed and built an array of robots in his basement workshop, from the small JASON, a remote sentry that can prove a mobile video feed to the user, to Hunter Gatherer, a four-wheel-drive rover with miles of range maneuvered by a standard Playstation 3 controller.

By donating his equipment to the college, Krill said he hopes students, robotics clubs, general interest groups or labs can use the servos, controllers and actuators to learn and create.

“I’ve gotten use out of those things, now I hope I can contribute to someone else’s understanding of engineering,” he said. “Designing something that could be used in outer space is a dream for me, but if I could help someone else on the road to realizing their dreams, that would make me happy, too.”

Follow Nathan Baker on Twitter @JCPressBaker. Like him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/jcpressbaker.

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