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Boca Bearings marks 25th anniversary with contest

By Nick Bullock
Published: March 15, 2012

Boca Bearings Company is ready to reward technological trendsetters, and radio control enthusiasts are taking advantage.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Boca Bearings, an industry leader in ceramic bearing and lubrication technology, is holding the 2012 Boca Bearings Innovation Contest. And a few of the entrants so far have even used radio-controlled technology, such as contestant Robert Smith and his Solar Charged R/C Lawn Mower, or Phil Jermyn and his Snelflight QuadPod helicopter.

"Every day I come in and countless people walk through our door and countless people place orders and email us every day that are just working on the coolest things I’ve ever seen," said Jason Flanzbaum, Boca Bearing Company’s vice president of marketing and e-commerce. "Literally people bring things into here and they’re these mad scientist engineers. You can see the fire in their eyes as they’re trying to describe what this little component is ultimately going to do. And we wanted to celebrate them."

The company will name a contest winner each month during 2012. Each monthly winner receives iPad2 engraved with his or her name. Boca Bearings employees will then select an overall winner at the end of the year, as well as two runners up. Each runner up will receive a 3D Printer from Makerbot Industries (worth $2,500), and the grand prize winner will receive a grant check for $10,000.

The only contest requirement is that participants use a ball roller or linear bearing, preferably with a focus on ceramic bearings, Flanzbaum said.

"Our whole goal here is to sort of pull together all these people that we know are working in their garage, working in their backyard, working at universities … and give them a way to spotlight what they’re doing and hopefully give them some money down the line," he said.

Boca Bearings has received about 15-20 contest entries per month so far, Flanzbaum said.

Personal robotics, which lends itself nicely to radio-controlled technology, has comprised many of the entries so far, he said. Some of the most notable R/C innovations included several variations of quad-copters.

Flanzbaum said Boca Bearings found its start in R/C. His father wanted to get out of the "rat race" and start a business that was fun, he said.

Today R/C is only a portion of Boca Bearings’ business, but Flanzbaum still sees the R/C industry as the company’s launching point as well as an "incubator for innovation."

"As those kids grew up," he said, "each of those kids who worked in R/C, who played with R/C, most of those kids became engineers, became scientists, became physicists." — Nick Bullock