Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Inventions: Forward-Facing Rowboat

By Lee Michaelides

Inventor: Warren Loomis ’62 Th’65

Loomis rowed the Connecticut River his own way.
Loomis rowed the Connecticut River his own way.

No doubt about it: Warren Loomis ’62 Th’65 was a forwarding-looking guy. In the early 1960s, when there were exactly two computers at Dartmouth, he took a keen interest in the new technology. After his first employer, the pioneering Time Share Corp., downsized him out of a job, he formed his own software company, Logic Associates. The two-man outfit soon became a Loomis-only enterprise as the company struggled to find its niche. But Loomis persevered, and a quarter century later the Upper Valley-based firm had 120 employees and sales of $17 million. He sold the company in 2000, and turned his engineering skills to recreation.

Loomis had taken up rowing, and he thought rowers should see where they were going, not where they’d already been. He designed a rowboat that combines the motion of a rowing machine with a rear-mounted propeller. Then he and his sons, Aaron and Jason, founded the Faceforward! company to manufacture and sell the novel craft. Next he developed a set of real-time performance tools to measure speed, power, and efficiency in small boats.

By the time Loomis died last November, neither of his rowing innovations matched the financial success of his software start-up. But they illustrate what son Jason says was a favorite saying of the late inventor: “The guy with the most tries wins.”

—Lee Michaelides is a contributing editor at Dartmouth Engineer.

For more photos, visit our Research and Innovations Flickr page.

Categories: Inventions

Tags: alumni, entrepreneurship, innovation

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