One of the many truly great things about being an engineering journalist is the opportunity we get to meet and talk with the movers and shakers in a variety of technologies. I've been particularly lucky to converse with such engineering luminaries as aerospace engineers Burt Rutan (our first Engineer of the Year) and Paul MacCready; communications satellite engineer Harold Rosen; Bernard Dagarin, the engineer behind the Galileo space probe and last year's Engineer of the Year; medical pioneer Dr. Robert Jarvik; and FEA leaders/entrepreneurs Dick MacNeal, John Swanson, Victor Weingarten, and Michael Bussler, to name just a few.
At the risk of being called a name-dropper, I'm going to name two more.
Recently, I visited Dr. Pat Hanratty, president of MCS, Inc. and primary developer of the CAD programs ANVIL-5000 and the new ANVIL EXPRESS. If developing those software packages were all he had done in his career, he would be recognized as a very successful person. But, he has done much more.
In fact, back in the early 1970s Hanratty personally wrote the code that became the core software for many of the most widely used CAD/CAM packages today. He called it ADAM--an apt name for a product that spawned a generation of computer programs for facilitating design.
Not bad for a late bloomer whose original goal was to be an opera singer. Today, at an age when many people begin to slow down, he still puts in long hours writing lines of code to improve his existing products and develop new ones. Filled with boundless energy, he can barely contain himself as he talks about the state of the CAD industry and his plans to make MCS a force.
Cut in many ways from the same creative and workaholic mold, engineer and consultant Dick Miller is an idea person who constantly searches for the truly innovative. Actually, he says, "ideas are a dime a dozen, it's execution that counts." He has plenty of experience there, having been a founder of Aries Technology and an executive at the MacNeal-Schwendler Corp. (which bought Aries) and ANSYS, where he was instrumental in the development of new technologies and products.
Hanratty and Miller exude enthusiasm for their work, and it's contagious. They are both fun to be around, and you can learn a lot from them.