No research is ever quite complete. It is the glory of a good bit of work that it opens the way for something still better, and this repeatedly leads to its own eclipse. — Mervin Gordon
In the architectural world, there is a common saying that resonates with many — inside and outside the boardroom — “less is more.” The idea is that a minimalist approach to something may result in a more appealing or better design than something riddled with complexities. This concept, though perhaps not a perfect fit, may be applied to HyperSizer, an automated software tool that makes it possible to reduce the weight of certain structural designs, such as air and spacecraft, while maintaining structural strength, durability and integrity.
HyperSizer was born out of research originally conducted on developing software called ST-SIZE at NASA Langley Research Center. In 1996, Craig Collier, of Collier Research, licensed the software for commercial use. Since that time, HyperSizer has evolved into a suite of structural software solutions used as a design tool in multiple industries, including sports, formula one cars, biplanes, bicycles, agriculture and the like.
Collier Research, located in Oyster Point, is a research and consulting service company that develops software solutions for product design. Specifically, its software tools are “used for safety, structural strength, certification of aircraft and optimization for performance,” says Craig, co-owner.
The company has industry partners all over the country, including businesses such as Boeing, Lockheed, Aurora, Bell Helicopter, Kawasaki, Northrup Grumman, Aerospace, Brunel University, Concordia and, of course, NASA, to name a few. In one of its recent ventures, Collier worked with the Spaceship Company in the development of the biggest airplane ever made, says Ivonne Collier, co-owner of Collier Research. The design of that aircraft was accomplished entirely with the HyperSizer software.
As software tool developers, Ivonne says, “It’s very satisfying when we hear a project has adopted our tool to design its product.” Bell Helicopter, partnering with Lockheed Martin, offers a case in point in its development of the Bell V-280 Valor, a helicopter of greater speed and range than current helicopters — and the one selected for the United States Army’s Future Vertical Lift (VCL) program.
Though some might think otherwise because of the nature of their business, Ivonne says, “If you worked here (at Collier Research), you would love it. It’s a culture; it’s a community. We go kiteboarding, hiking, watch movies. People are very kind to each other here. It’s sort of a coveted position; it’s a big deal to get a job here — everyone who works here interviews you. We make a community decision about whether someone is a good fit intellectually and socially and whether they can bring something to the company community.” Piggybacking on that, Craig adds, “We want people who have original thoughts, who are creative and who have a desire to work.”
Regardless of the project being worked on at Collier Research, it’s important that the company employs quality individuals, says Craig. “Software, in general, is challenging because you can never sit on your laurels,” he says. “You constantly have to be state of the art or you quickly become old news.”
As a couple working together, Craig and Ivonne have a unique opportunity to constantly be involved in one another’s lives — on the job and in the home. While some might find this challenging, Ivonne says she finds great joy in “riding to work together, working out together and making decisions together about the future of the company.” For Craig, the experience is much the same. “Having my wife involved in our business has a calming effect and makes me feel very achieved and complete,” he says.
So, in terms of design development, perhaps the adage is true — less is more, but for Craig and Ivonne, as work and home partners, maybe more is more.
TO THE POINT:
Address: 760 Pilot House Dr., Ste. A, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Craig and Ivonne Collier, co-owners