My mother tells me how early my passion for inventing began; her stories help me remember my childhood memories of disassembling old toys to create new ones. I excelled at math and art in grade school, which ties into my high school welding class leading to a good career. My welding class had math, and the metal construction with beautiful weld beads holding the parts together was art. I began assembling the welded parts to create innovative designs for myself and others. After high school, I worked at a foundry, welding and polishing bronze statues sculpted by Stanley Johnson.
My parents raised me to work hard, and I grew up in what I would call a typical alcoholic home. My parents’ drinking seemed normal, so I, too, began drinking in my early teens. Not long after, I was in legal trouble for drinking, forcing me to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A). The A.A. meetings are a gift from God, and I took my last drink at age 24. A few years later, I became a first-generation college student earning a two-year degree in Machine Tooling with a welding emphasis.
In 1995, my welding ability and machining degree led to my starting A.A. Machining & Welding, Inc.; the company was a job shop that could manufacture, machine, or weld almost anything. We frequently catered to inventors who found my company could help them with their ideas. We designed and built dozens of prototypes. Here, I learned about intellectual property laws and rules that could protect me as an inventor.
In 2001, Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR), a Utah ski resort, hired my company to design a 60-MPH autobraking zipline trolley for the 2002 Winter Olympics; I was in the engineering program at Southern Utah University learning AutoCAD, so my designs converted prototype assemblies into 60-MPH trolleys. The trolley applied a friction brake to slow zipliners down the entire zipline. A year later, PCMR awarded my machine and welding shop the contract to build: two giant zipline towers, thirty Richardson Safety Trolleys (60-MPH auto-braking trolley), and two emergency brake systems consisting of a 60-foot long compression spring arrays with weights per cable. Afterward, my zipline career faded for about a decade as I focused on raising my family and three autistic grandchildren.
In 2009, I built a commercial zipline in my hometown. Shortly after, a plaintiff’s attorney contacted me as an expert regarding a fatal zipline accident in Reno, Nevada. I soon realized my time away from the fast-growing zipline industry had left participants vulnerable to zipline braking accidents, and PCMR’s zipline trolleys are still: immune from zipline braking accidents (which account for over half of all injuries). For twenty-one years, RSTs have been accident-free.
So in 2011, I returned to college to earn a design engineering degree; three years later, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology. I wanted to be a Patent Attorney and thought my degree and three more years of law school would get me there. I knew several patent attorneys, but one of them advised me that my expert witness career was more lucrative than law school. He was right.
In 2015, I sold my company and started Momentum Engineering; the design company grew from the increasing number of zipline accidents, which catapulted my career as an expert witness. My zipline patents, experience, and degrees added credibility to my work as an expert witness. The best part is more time to develop zipline safety products. In my role as a zipline expert, I try to reduce zipline accidents, which reduces my expert witnessing, and preventing injuries is a better use of my time.
In 2021, I partnered with Mike Holder to develop stackable spring array for primary and secondary emergency brake system. He is an ACCT Preferred Vendor Member and the owner of American Adventure Park Systems in Historic Banning Mills, Georgia Mike and I are seasoned U.S. Patent holders and developed the invention to reduce zipline braking injuries. That same year, I took the United States patent bar exam, Category B, after earning over thirty-two physics semester hours needed with my undergraduate degree. My first attempt failed, so I plan to retake the exam someday. Also, that year I was accepted into Technical Writing & Digital Rhetoric, a graduate program at Utah Tech University. This degree will further advance my direction to earn a Ph.D., which will no longer be associated with being a pretty heavy drinker. On 02/04/23, I celebrate 33 years of sobriety.