Celebrating a Milestone

With the hashtag #TBT (throwback Thursday), the University of North Carolina Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture posted on Instagram this photo of Gray, left, with now-retired architecture professor John Nelson, in the Arts Quad in 1999.
Gray

The University of North Carolina Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture has joined ELEVATOR WORLD in celebrating a milestone for Dr. Lee Gray — the publication of his 200th EW article, “The First Elevator in the Texas State Capitol, Part One,” which appears in this month’s issue. Gray, a professor of Architectural History and senior associate dean, joined the faculty at UNCC in 1992 and, according to an April 2 post on the Arts + Architecture Instagram page, “decided it was time to write a book. Asking himself, ‘What’s going to be the most fun?’ he landed on his topic: elevators.” It was in 2003 that he became an EW correspondent, penning monthly history columns (with occasional other pieces), and, according to the post, has since become the “ONLY fulltime elevator historian in the WORLD.” As such, he is the go-to answer man — if the question is “elevators” — for numerous national media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, The History Channel, National Geographic and PBS, to name a few. In a reply to the post, EW’s Instagram congratulated Gray, adding, “Our magazine wouldn’t be the same without his contributions. We look forward to his Escalator History book in 2021!” Faithful EW readers don’t have to wait that long for more from Gray, however — he’ll have another article in May’s issue, and for June he will be the subject of our popular “10 Questions” feature.

Working From Home Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Fujitec Elevators & Escalators, headquartered in Japan with operational headquarters worldwide, recently posted on LinkedIn a photo collage of its sales team members working from home, observing that “safety of our employees is our topmost priority. However, our sales team continues to #stayathome and work with full enthusiasm to keep up our customer commitments.”

The Fujitec sales team working from home; image courtesy of Fujitec

Escalator Invention in the Running for LEGO League Championship

A recent article from Louisville, Kentucky’s WAVE 3 News is about a sharp team of fourth- through sixth-grade students in a local robotics program who aim to make escalators more accessible to those who can’t see well. The Good Vibrations invention uses a transducer to produce vibrations on escalator steps so riders can feel where they are.

Portland Christian School’s first LEGO League team “is causing a stir in the robotics world,” the source says. 11-year-old programmer Lydia Kratt inspired her five fellow members to help those like a friend of hers with disabilities overcome fears of escalators. They’re in the process of patenting the device for such public places as churches, airports and malls. They ranked third of 49 teams across Kentucky, earning an invitation to the national competitions. They also won first place for a LEGO League Global Innovation award, which recognizes the best project ideas most likely to be implemented.

The sight impaired traditionally use elevators for vertical transportation, where Braille is common. Is it a great idea for them to use escalators, too? Check out the video included in the link above to see how the device works and what the inventors have to say about it.