CAD/CAM Hall of Fame welcomes, FEA, Nurbs innovators

Oct. 19, 2000
Honored this year: Michael L. Bussler, Dr. Albert L. Klosterman, and Dr. John A. Swanson.

Since its debut in 1998, The CAD/CAM Hall of Fame has honored individuals responsible for not only the initial development of CAD/CAM technology but also significant landmark creations and events that have followed.

Those honored this year include Michael L. Bussler, president and CEO of Algor, for creating the first FEA system able to run on personal computers, as well as his continued efforts in improving PC capabilities. Dr. Albert L. Klosterman of SDRC also will be recognized for his foresight in introducing 3D solids modeling to mechanical design, making nonuniform rational B-splines (Nurbs) a standard in geometric surface representation, and working with variational geometry. And, Dr. John A. Swanson, founder of Ansys, will be inducted for his innovative work in applying finite-element analysis (FEA) to engineering.

The CAD/CAM Hall of Fame is sponsored by CAE Magazine, a sister publication of MACHINE DESIGN.

Its first year, the Hall of Fame honored Dr. Ivan E. Sutherland. Considered a pioneer in 3D CAD modeling, he created his famous Sketch-Pad system at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty was celebrated for his work in making the first commercially available integrated drafting and design system. The year 1998 also recognized John T. Parsons, the father of numerical-control (NC) technology.

In 1999, the CAD/CAM Hall of Fame honored Dr. Richard H. MacNeal, founder of and codeveloper of Nastran finite-element-analysis software. Charles S. Hutchins was inducted for his pioneering work in numerical-control programming software. And, Dick Bennett was honored for his development of the Cadam drafting program, and his key role in introducing it to the commercial market.

Michael L. Bussler

A bachelor’s degree in journalism from Penn State University and the rank of captain in the U. S. Air Force are just a few of Michael L. Bussler’s feats. As founder, current president and CEO of Algor Inc., this CAD/CAM Hall of Fame inductee’s resume does not stop here.

Once out of the Air Force, Bussler went back for a mechanical engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Upon graduation in 1970, he began an engineering career at companies such as Thermal Transfer Inc., American Schack Co., and Westinghouse Electric Co. It was here that Bussler gained his invaluable engineering experience. He tested and designed thermal and mechanical performance and even assessed the specification deviations of nuclear submarines’ atomic power generation systems.

It was also during this period when Bussler’s visionary attributes began to mature. He created a personal pursuit: He wanted to provide engineers with the most efficient software. With this in mind, Bussler went on to start Algor Inc.

Initially, Algor was a time-sharing company. It was a provider of mainframe computer power for professional engineers. But, Bussler had always kept an eye on the growing personal-computer (PC) industry. He began creating software specifically for this steadily flourishing market.

Concentrating on PCs, Bussler and Algor introduced the innovative idea of being able to execute major engineering tasks on basic desktop computers. In 1984, Bussler developed the first comprehensive FEA software for personal computers. And a year later, Algor introduced the first interface between CAD and FEA. It mechanically converted CAD solid-modeling data into a finite-element mesh. Today, this is the industry standard.

The year 1987 brought the first CAD/FEA interface with built-in analysis capability. Algor also introduced an FEA software package that broke the DOS 640-kbyte memory limit barrier. Bussler's devotion for providing the best software tools for engineers continues. He consistently developed faster, more accurate PC software with improved flexibility and finite-element meshing. Algor's Hexagen, Merlin, and Houdini are examples.

With Bussler's help, Algor announced the first Windows-based FEA system in 1995, the initial Java-based FEA user interface in 1996, and the first Java-based automatic mesh-generation interface in 1997.

To this day, Bussler remains committed to developing swifter, more accurate, and more adaptable FEA packages. He has been recognized for his contributions to the CAD/CAM industry, especially for his efforts with PC-based FEA software. Bussler has received the Scientist Award from the Carnegie Science Center in response to Algor's Accupak/VE Mechanical Event Simulation software.

What's Bussler's latest venture? Last year, he introduced Technimedia, which uses Internet television technology for Webcasts, Web courses, and distance learning.

Dr. Albert L. Klosterman
In 1965, Dr. Albert L. Klosterman received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Cincinnati (UC). Upon graduation, Klosterman became an instructor at UC and spent five years there while pursuing his doctorate in mechanical engineering, which he received in 1971. His dissertation, dynamics systems simulation, went on to become the core technology for a company founded by two UC professors: Structural Dynamics Research Corp. The company's emphasis was to provide more efficient tools for manufacturers in their quest to perfect product design. In the beginning, Klosterman consulted with SDRC part-time until heading SDRC's technical development organization in 1970. From there, his contributions to CAD/CAM gained momentum.

Klosterman has been instrumental in creating SDRC's CAD/CAM technology. A staunch supporter and forerunner of 3D solid modeling, he was one of the first individuals to introduce this groundbreaking concept to mechanical designers in the 1970s. He believed that physical drawings would eventually become obsolete. Klosterman fully understood the power and leverage one could attain in product design by being in a "paperless" 3D environment.

In 1983, Klosterman became vice president and chief scientist at SDRC. In this position he is credited with generating research and recommendations based upon CAD/CAM industry trends. Also around the early 1980s, his overall commitment led him to promote Nurbs as the standard for geometric surface representation, even with many members of the CAD/CAM industry in opposition. Klosterman envisioned the potential impact of Nurbs and was able to substantiate his assumptions about what is now described as a “keystone methodology” for the industry.

Always the visionary, Klosterman was among the first in the CAD/CAM industry to understand the importance of variational geometry (VG) and its potential leverage with 3D solids modeling. SDRC’s I-DEAS was the first commercial package to use a “strong mathematical basis” of VG for solids modeling.

Currently, Klosterman is semi-retired. He continues to put his “Midas touch” on the CAD/CAM industry via consulting projects with SDRC. Additionally, he is assisting CardioEnergetics Inc., developers of heart-assisting devices, and Cutanogen Corp., developers of replacement skin for burn victims, and also raising private funds.

Dr. John A. Swanson
Dr. John A. Swanson's contributions to CAD/CAM technology began in the 1960s. He received a bachelor's and master's degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University. Swanson acquired his doctorate in applied mechanics from the University of Pittsburgh.

His career picked up steam at the Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory in the stress-analysis group, core analysis and methods group, and the structural analysis group. It was during this time spent scrutinizing data at Westinghouse that Swanson developed a concept that would forever shape and clear the way for CAD/CAM technology: He recognized that integrated, general-purpose, finite-element software could reduce development time and save money spent fixing mistakes.

It was Swanson who pioneered finite-element-analysis (FEA) technology and perfected it. Alone, within the small confines of a farmhouse in the late 1960s, Swanson wrote the original code for an interactive, general-purpose FEA program. The code was able to solve complex structural problems in product design.

In 1970, Swanson formed his own company, Ansys Inc. He hired engineers and assistants to help him develop, market, and support his new Ansys software. Today Ansys FEA software has become one of the most widely applied FEA software packages. Ansys is now 30 years old and continues to be one of the leading developers, marketers, and deliverers of collaborative analysis software that not only strengthens product design but also shortens time to market.

Swanson is internationally acclaimed for his efforts in FEA and bringing the technology into the forefront of the engineering industry. He has won numerous awards, including his most recent one, the ASME Applied Mechanics Award in 1998.

Currently, Swanson is on the Board of Trustees of Washington & Jefferson College, is a member of the Washington Council on Economic Development, and is a Canon-McMillan scholarship provider, in addition to helping fund several colleges and universities.

About the Author

Leland Teschler

Lee Teschler served as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design until 2014. He holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan; a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan; and an MBA from Cleveland State University. Prior to joining Penton, Lee worked as a Communications design engineer for the U.S. Government.

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