Published June 13, 2013
Sentient Science, an Idaho-based company that develops software and sensors used to test materials and components in the aerospace, defense and energy industries, has moved its headquarters to UB’s Jacobs Executive Development Center.
The company says the move to Buffalo was based largely on the opportunity to work with computer scientists and engineers at UB. With the help of UB scientists, Sentient over the past two years has built an 8,000-processor, cloud-oriented infrastructure to serve the world’s largest material genome and advance manufacturing companies.
Sentient has pledged to invest more than $10.5 million and create 86 full-time positions in Western New York. In addition to moving its corporate office to Buffalo, the company plans to expand to Niagara Falls.
In officially opening Sentient’s headquarters today, company President Ward Thomas was joined by numerous dignitaries, including Sen. Charles Schumer (via video), Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt, NYSERDA President and CEO Frank J. Murray, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise CEO Tom Kucharski, Alexander N. Cartwright, UB vice president for research and economic development and Tom Furlani, director of UB’s Center for Computational Research (CCR).
“For over a year, we have been saying that materials science could be one of the keys to unlocking our economic development future in Western New York,” said Schumer, who has played an important role in securing opportunities for Sentient to develop and utilize its technology with such federal agencies as the U.S. Army and NASA.
“Sentient’s choice to move to Buffalo demonstrates what we have known all along—that if we invest in cutting-edge research, companies and jobs will follow,” he said. “Furthermore, Sentient’s expertise and their willingness to continuing to partner with UB and others will only help make our future applications for federal research dollars more successful, and will serve as an example to other companies that Buffalo is the place to be in materials science.”
Sentient began developing its virtual testing technology, marketed under the DigitalClone™ brand, in 2001 to take the place of the manual testing of materials and components used in the manufacture of everything from helicopters and bridges to medical devices and wind turbines. The technology has been validated by the federal government, including NASA, and is being used on a number of federal initiatives, including the Hubble Telescope, the new Joint Strike Fighter F35 and the Blackhawk, Apache and Super Sea Stallion helicopters.
To advance its ability to create computational simulations of mechanical devices, Sentient plans to access the computational power, as well as staff expertise of CCR, located in UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. The CCR may soon host some of Sentient’s supercomputing clusters in its facility, marking a new milestone in CCR’s mission to help foster economic development in Western New York. Furlani and engineering faculty members Puneet Singla, David Kofke and others will be collaborating with Sentient scientists, as well, to develop innovations in the company’s use of sensors and simulations.
“In many ways, Sentient’s partnership with the University at Buffalo made great sense, and we thank them for their aggressive subsidies,” said Thomas. “Their amazing mansion (JEDC is located in the historic Butler Mansion on UB’s Downtown Campus) allows us on-campus capabilities to align our research and processors for developing our technology with UB.”
Cartwright called the UB-Sentient partnership “an exciting moment for their company, for our region and for UB’s Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics as we continue to build collaborations with industry that support the advancement of materials-based technology while bolstering Western New York’s high-tech economy.”
President Satish Tripathi, who also serves as co-chair of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, said UB is grateful for the support of the regional council in facilitating Sentient’s relocation to Buffalo.
“I am very pleased that we are able to connect Sentient Science’s cutting-edge, technology-testing efforts with computer scientists, engineers and researchers at UB,” Tripathi said. “Sentient will work closely with UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics and our Center for Computational Research, and will be a valued industry partner as we work together to create new technologies and innovations that improve the quality of life and boost our regional economy.”