A virtual tour on display

Sen. Grassley tours Mechdyne Corporation

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Friday afternoon, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley toured the Mechdyne Corporation’s Tech Center in Marshalltown, to learn more about the current projects the company, which deals in audiovisual and information technology, is handling. Here Grassley wears a pair of virtual reality goggles in order to have a 3D look at a jet turbine. Software engineer Josh Kirkpatrick, right, shows the senator how the system works, while Mechdyne President and CEO Chris Clover, left, looks on.

Friday afternoon, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley toured the Mechdyne Corporation’s Tech Center in Marshalltown, to learn more about the current projects the company, which deals in audiovisual and information technology, is handling.

Sen. Grassley told the Times-Republican that “Mechdyne has been a rapid growth company and I’m impressed with the number of employees it’s hired since I was last here. There’s a lot of good industry in Iowa, but we never brag about it.”

Led around the facility by Mechdyne’s President and CEO Chris Clover, the senator got behind-the-scenes access into the Tech Center. At one point in the tour, he was helped into a pair of virtual reality goggles in order to have a three dimensional look at a jet turbine.

Next, Grassley was shown the company’s CAVE2 system, which provides a 320-degree panoramic virtual environment in 2D and 3D. He also learned about Mechdyne’s success using solar panels as an energy source.

After his guided tour, which lasted for about an hour, Grassley held a question and answer styled talk, with the audience consisting exclusively of Mechdyne employees.

Attendees asked the senator about his views on a variety of energy, business and tax-related concepts.

When asked about his thoughts on wind and solar energy, Grassley said, “I was the author of the wind energy tax credit in 1992, and back then, we didn’t know it’d be the big thing it is now. I support solar energy too, and Ethanol … Ethanol is a type of solar energy when we make it from corn.”

Grassley was asked if Congress was working towards voting on a bill that would improve infrastructure, particularly in Iowa.

“There isn’t much moving right now, but I would say it is third on the list of priorities, behind healthcare and tax revision right now,” Grassley said.

With Mechdyne having employees that hold a U.S. H-1B visa (available to graduate level workers in speciality occupations), Grassley was asked his thoughts on the practice.

“Some people have seen me as an opponent of H-1B’s, but I’m a supporter,” he said. “There is a misuse of them, so it needs some reform, which is a pretty bipartisan thing.”

He told the audience he was interested in corporate tax reform, saying he would like to see it drop to 20 to 25 percent, which is the lowest he felt it would drop and still pass with bipartisan support (the rate currently averages 39 percent).