General Interest

Japanese and Illinois companies connect for Industry 4.0

By Jessica Xieyang Qiao
Medill Reports

Japan, a hotbed of craftsmanship and innovation, is well equipped for the fourth industrial revolution as Japanese manufacturing companies leverage high technology to accelerate the delivery of industrial automation solutions.

Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America (PSSNA), a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation, launched in April last year to kick-start factory automation via computer-integrated manufacturing software. Masakatsu Kaji, director of PSSNA, said recent years saw a shift in customer interest from technology to productivity.

“In 2006 and 2007, customers were looking for the technology –  how components could become smaller and smaller,” said Kaji at the  Connect & Create conference in Chicago on Tuesday. “In 2015 and 2016, customers began asking how to optimize the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), how to optimize their assets and machines in the factory.”

The conference emphasized more partnerships and investment opportunities between Japanese and Illinois companies.

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From homelessness to finding a home

By Lu Zhao
Medill Reports

The single room occupancy (SRO) residence on Kenmore Avenue occupies a clean, quiet and lovely part of Uptown, dotted with a chain of Vietnamese and Chinese shops.

The building is close to the Argyle station on the Red Line, only a three-minute walk away.

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I wasn’t sure whether I could find Shea Allen at the SRO. She doesn’t have a phone and often goes out panhandling. Luckily, I ran across her at the elevator as she was heading to find her boyfriend, Tony Eovaldi. They hadn’t seen each other for three days.

Shea, 30, came from St. Louis with Tony last June. Hoping to find more job opportunities in Chicago, they didn’t make it and then ran out of money. Panhandling on the street and living in a small shack became their life. Then Shea’s heart condition and an amputated finger made her eligible to move into the SRO, one of the 168 rooms in the dwelling, in January. Continue reading

The future of shopping expands–grab and go at Amazon’s 4th store in Chicago

Yixuan Xie
Medill Reports

Amazon launched a fourth automated check-out store in Chicago this month, giving Chicago and Seattle most of the 10 stories open nationally.

The latest Amazon Go store opened at 111 E. Wacker Dr. at the Illinois Center this month,  offering 1,950 square feet of ready-to-eat foods and grocery essentials. Its “Just Walk Out” technology allows shoppers to walk in a store, grab items they want and simply walk out with everything automatically charged.

A store without cashiers or checkouts? Although it sounded like a gimmick when the first Amazon Go store opened to employee testers in 2016 in Seattle at company headquarters. It has expanded rapidly to the 10 stores operating across the U.S, including four each in Seattle and Chicago and two in San Francisco.

Chicago’s first Amazon Go store, located at 113 S. Franklin St., debuted in September 2018. The second and third, which opened in October and November, are located at 144 S. Clark St., and 500 W Madison St.

Photo at top: Chicago’s fourth Amazon Go cashierless store opened this month. (Yixuan Xie/Medill)

Social media brings Chicago Native Americans home to their reservations

By Lily Qi
Medill Reports

Pamala Silas used to hold annual meetings in downtown Chicago with other Menominee tribal members who lived in the area.

“I could get a hundred people to come to a meeting two times a year. I gave them a nice dinner, we had a presentation, the tribal leaders would come, we gave little gifts,” says Silas, who lives in Avondale.

Now meetings are no longer all downtown, with smaller breakfast meetings hosted in the suburbs as well.

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Osman’s EuroLeague legacy translating to NBA with All-Star weekend pick

By John Alfes
Medill Reports

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman is an icon in the EuroLeague, where he played for four years with Anadolu Efes — a Turkish professional basketball team based in Istanbul. He started there at age 18.

The experience refined Osman’s game on the court, fostered his relationships off the court and spotlighted his reputation throughout the landscape of European basketball.

Cedi Osman played for the Turkish national team overseas prior to joining the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA. (Ayca Yildiz/Flickr)

“He’s one of the best players that Turkey has had in history,” said Bogdan Bogdanovic, a Belgrade native and shooting guard for the Sacramento Kings. “A guy who dedicated his life for basketball, very professional. He works hard every single day. He’s from a good family, too.”

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Local Chicago Instagram account helps launch international media company

By Seth Schlechter
Medill Reports

Andy Lederman describes himself as the friend who likes to find fun new things to do with his pals. This mindset didn’t change when he moved to Chicago after college seven years ago to work in private equity. The issue was he couldn’t find the go-to guide he wanted, so he decided to produce his own.

“We were all working really hard at our respective finance jobs so we didn’t have time to research this stuff and there was no good research out there,” he said.

Lederman created Chicago Bucket List, an Instagram account with a mission to curate a list of the best things to do in Chicago for his friends.

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Show-stopping concept vehicles grandstand music and grill fresh pizza at Chicago Auto Show

By Cyan Zhong
Medill Reports

As the flashiest fleet revved its way into the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, one special model boomed into spectators’ ears and eyes at the pre-show media exhibition. Penetrating bass and beats came from the back of the vehicle.

Kicks DJ, an orange Nissan vehicle adapted into a music powerhouse, has four diaphragms bouncing on what was supposed to be the rear window. Standing near a mixer board extending from the window, the knob-twisting, button-pushing “badass” DJ, Eric Shimp, jammed to the beats.

Eric Shimp of Vehicle Effects in California mixes music with the Kicks DJ’s mixer. (Cyan Zhong/Medill Reports)

“It’s not something that you would really want to drive, but it is fun to be able to take this into a concert venue or a field or a warehouse in this, roll it off the truck and rock a party,” Shimp said.

Aside from being a “superstar DJ,” Shimp is also project manager at Vehicle Effects, a small car-making team in Sun Valley, California. He works with Dennis McCarthy, a famous car builder for Hollywood films including the Fast and Furious series, Justice League and Batman v Superman.

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Self-identification or tribal membership: Different paths to your heritage

By Lu Zhao
Medill Reports

It was a surprise for the 8-year-old girl when she first learned she is a Native American many years ago. Pamala Silas still remembers that day. She had transferred to a new school. Huddling in the chair, sitting beside her younger sister, Pam was introduced by the teacher as an “American Indian.” She couldn’t believe what she heard.

“What? Why did she say that?” Pam, in her 50s and proud of her heritage, said she harbored as a child stereotypes of Native Americans that, all too often, people saw on TV. “They’re all naked and crazy!”

Pam went home and asked her foster mother why they called her an Indian at school.

“Well, you are,” her foster mother said. She took out an encyclopedia, went to the American Indian section and showed Pam a picture of a man with a headdress on a horse. “You’re an Indian.” Continue reading

Trump calls border migrants a “tremendous onslaught,” sparking concerns from mental health experts

By Carly Graf
Medill Reports

President Donald Trump described the U.S. and Mexican boundary as “our very dangerous southern border,” during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, reigniting concerns about punitive immigration practices and mental health impacts.

His rallying cry included a call to Congress to put the “ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers and human traffickers out of business.”

In the shadow of the longest government shutdown in history, spurred by a political standoff over funding for a border wall, scrutiny of the administration’s policy rekindled also after a January a report from the Office of the Inspector General. The report revealed that thousands more children may have been taken from parents than initially reported.

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Chicago mayors: A mixed legacy on the environment

By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

When Chicago’s first Mayor William B. Ogden took office in 1837, he along with two alderman crafted the city seal.

The city’s motto, “Urbs in Horto,” or City in a Garden, that appears at the bottom of the seal, quickly lost much of its literal meaning even with huge parks left amid all the development. Ogden himself, upon leaving office, helped transform the city into one of the nation’s leading railway hubs over the course of the next decade.

As the world discusses the impacts of climate change, Chicago mayors have taken  role in that conversation. Take a look back at Chicago mayors key moments in the environment and development of the city.

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