President lands at RDU

Jan. 15, 2014 @ 01:12 PM

Air Force One touched down at 11:02 a.m. at the UPS Cargo Facility of the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. 

President Obama was greeted on the tarmac by Gov. Pat McCrory, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Durham Mayor Bill Bell. He was with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and North Carolina Congressman Mike McIntyre.

Beside a platform where local reporters were set up with cameras and microphones, a crowd of people were waiting to see the president arrive. The group included Jamar McKoy, chairman of the Gaston County Democratic Party."I think it's awesome for our state," McKoy said of Obama's visit in an interview before the president's arrival. He said he hoped the president would speak with the governor to "change some of his policies."

Raleigh resident Claudia Mann was in the crowd with family members. She said her niece is part of a U.S. Air Force support group. She said her niece flew in to help prepare for Obama's arrival.

Obama descended the steps and stopped to talk with the local officials. There were some squeals from the crowd as he walked over to shake hands."How y'all doin'?" Obama said, as he walked over. "Good morning."

The presidential motorcade traveled first during his visit to Vacon's research and development site in Research Triangle Park, where Obama was slated to go on a tour at the facility with Moniz.

Inside Vacon's facility, Rod Washington was waiting for the president in front of a table of AC drive components and computer screens. Washington told a group of reporters that he's an engineer with the company. "In fact, we're all engineers here," Washington said.

Washington said showed the president where Vacon officials test AC drives behind locked doors, and also described how they also develop interfaces and controls.Obama asked Washington to "pause for a second" to ask a clarifying question about what aspect of the technology is manufactured on-site. 

Washington said the power modules are "somewhat assembled" at the site, and said the workers at the site are involved in technology design.The president turned to reporters. He said the AC drives allow for gains in efficiency. "That means ultimately, energy savings that we can spread across the entire economy," Obama said. "This makes our energy smarter, more efficient."

In another part of the building, the president was shown an AC drive system. A company official said that while the power modules achieve 98 percent efficiency, they do generate a lot of heat. The official pointed out the equipment's cooling system and other components.

Turning again to the reporters, Obama said the drives can operate in "anything with a big powered engine to it."  He also said that as he was hearing about how company was working to make progress and gain efficiency, they're also looking to reduce the size of components so the technology can be "put in more places."

The motorcade left the facility and headed to Raleigh. In Raleigh and on N.C. State's campus, people were standing holding cell phones and other devices to take pictures as the motorcade passed. There were some people on a street corner holding signs, including one that read "repeal Obamacare."