Local firm matches engineering, people [Dayton Daily News, Ohio]
(Dayton Daily News (OH) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 13--A small but growing Fairborn firm lives where engineering and human needs meet.
In the Presidential Drive offices of Aptima, you'll find video game designers putting the finishing touches on a colorful game meant to gauge whether and to what extent a Marine who has survived a roadside bomb blast has suffered brain trauma.
Here, you'll find a scientist crafting a computer program monitoring tweets and other social media clues to determine whether the Arab Spring, or any other social upheaval, is about to turn violent.
And here you'll find a psychologist helping to determine how much information an Air Force pilot can usefully view before it becomes too much.
You'll also find a growing private business. Aptima was founded in 1995 in Woburn, Mass., but established a Dayton-area presence six years ago, drawn in part by the formation of the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Today, the wing is one of the company's biggest customers.
About 120 people work for Aptima, in Fairborn, the Boston area, Washington, D.C., Orlando, Fla., and soon, Los Angeles. At first, Aptima's Dayton "office" consisted of two people working from a home. Today, the site has 19 employees and a payroll exceeding $1.4 million, said Ronald Storm, Aptima's Dayton director.
Storm has a constant need for qualified employees.
"We're always in a hiring mode," he said. "Our limit is the space that we have to put people. Obviously, we have to have programs to do that. But we're continuously hiring."
The company is looking for talent in data analytics, neuroscience, software, psychology, math and many other areas. Eighty percent of Aptima employees have graduate degrees.
Said Storm, "It's an interesting mix of folks we're able to bring in."
A good part of the company's wide-ranging work is centered at Wright-Patterson, helping measure "the brain and body signals and performance of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operators tasked with controlling multiple craft, improved displays, interfaces and training," an Aptima spokesman said.
But there's much more going on. As Storm put it, Aptima's Dayton office "doesn't just do Dayton work." The company has neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists, software experts and others pretty evenly spread among all its sites, all potentially working for different clients, not just Wright-Patterson.
"We all work on different programs across the U.S., so that a shortfall in funding at Wright-Patterson doesn't mean that we lay off or decimate the organization," Storm said. "Not only do we do work here in Dayton, but we also do work outside (Dayton)."
Dayton employees can be found not only at Wright-Patterson, but at Fort Benning in Georgia and elsewhere. As Aptima grows, Storm expects the Dayton office to grow.
Already, Aptima's Dayton office has spun off a new business: Analytic Diabetic Systems LLC, which offers a program that tracks and predicts glucose levels for hospital patients with diabetes.
Operating in Fairborn literally across Colonel Glenn Highway from Wright State University and its engineering students makes sense, Storm said. The company taps graduates from WSU, the University of Dayton, Ohio State University, the University of Toledo and elsewhere. In fact, Storm, at age 40, is the "old guy in the office," he said.
"It's a great town," said Storm, who will have worked in Fairborn for a year come March. "I think if I wanted to move, my wife wouldn't let me."
Zachary Kalinoski, 28, an Aptima industrial scientist, earned his doctorate from WSU last June. Today, he helps the Army determine how well teams of soldiers are working together, or as he put it: "the cognitive readiness of teams."
"Are they cohesive," is a question Kalinoski said he tries to help the Army answer. "Are they getting along Does everyone have a shared understanding of what they're doing "
A few doors down, software engineer Seamus Sullivan is crafting a program to measure what social media can tell observers about potential societal chaos. The programs the company is devising are inspired in part by earlier programs that tracked the spread of physical diseases.
"Instead of monitoring disease, we're monitoring the spread of ideas," Sullivan said.
It's all about measuring human performance, Storm said.
"The Air Force has exciting work," he said.
(c)2013 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]