Friday, August 7, 2009

A Visit to Northrup Grumman

As I have been going about creating a list of software and technology companies in the South Puget Sound, I have also been able to visit a few. So far (with the help from a couple of excellent MSL interns) I have identified around 70 companies. Some of them have changed names. Examples include TUI Consulting, which was bought by Axon Solutions Inc. and still hosts a number of SAP folks here, and just recently Sagem Morpho, one of the states biggest technology companies, which became even bigger through a merger with Printrak, and now goes by MorphoTrak.

Some of the companies are small shops of two to four people.

Some you are likely well aware of if you live near Tacoma, such as Intel in Dupont and Topia Technology which is headquartered downtown.

But it wasn't until recently that I was aware that such a large contingent of Northrup Grumman computer and environmental scientists existed here in Pierce County. They have been operating here since 1983, and have been specializing in the development of environmental software since 1993.

The Northrup Grumman Corporation itself is a global defense and technology company with 120,000 employees worldwide. The branch located in Lakewood, WA, has been growing slowly over the last several years and when I met with their site manager, Bruce Sisco, in June, they were up to 50 people.

As of this week when I visited their offices in Lakewood, they are now up to 51, with the latest hire being an alumnus from the Computer Science program here at the Institute of Technology at the UWT. What is more, they are intent on growing over the next few years and may even double in size.

Their vision is to provide effective tools to Government and the private sector for prediction of impacts caused by environmental events. If some of their public sector solutions for environmental event prediction gain traction I can see them having an even larger footprint.

Here is a description of the software and solutions they are developing.

Environmental Decision Tool (EDT): The EDT is our initiative for a family of software products that exhibit our vision to provide effective tools for prediction of impacts resulting from environmental events. The EDT can tailored to provide solutions for:

Flood Protection
Coastal Protection
Surface Transportation
Health & Safety
Fire Fighting
Oil Spills

The EDT provides decision-makers with situational awareness and a forecast of the environmental impacts on infrastructure, facilities, equipment, agriculture and people from the combined effects of weather, hydrology, and other natural causes. The EDT expedites the analysis of multi-source, multidisciplinary, complex data sets and equips the decision-maker with the required information. The EDT delivers innovative, ergonomically sound information displays to identify environmental impacts.

I enjoyed my tour of their facilities and the software development and testing labs. I was familiar with the area their building was located in because I worked in a restaurant across the street from them back, back, WAY back, when I was in high school. However the address is about to change, as they are moving to bigger quarters in the near future in order to accommodate their growth.

I look forward to more visibility of the company, building a closer relationship with the Institute and their development efforts in the future.

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