Happy hour: Why your pals at Blue Ridge Numerics should buy the drinks tonight

Ever heard of Blue Ridge Numerics? Neither had we. The firm, located in Peter Jefferson Place, doesn't push itself around town. But somehow it got found by the folks who count: Autodesk Inc.

The California-based and publicly-held Autodesk has just agreed to purchase Blue Ridge Numerics for $39 million. Cash. And thus the chance that the bosses might be soon buying friends a few rounds of beverages.

"It's not closed yet," says company co-founder Ed Williams on announcement day, February 17. "So I'm not buying tonight, but I could certainly use one."

Back in 1992, while the rest of us were enjoying the glamor of teaching, nursing, insurance sales, and dental hygienics, Williams and fellow co-founder Rita Schnipke were setting up this firm to create software for engineers to study fluid dynamics, something that's not as arcane as it might sound.

"From aerospace to ice cream," says Williams. "It could be the comfort of a building. Or smoke removal from a parking garage. Or filling Little Debbie cakes with whipped cream."

Indeed, thanks to the software simulations provided by Blue Ridge Numerics, firms can get a sense of how fluids will move before they start building their physical prototypes. That means the guys who design the whipped-cream squirters for the Little Debbie cakes can get a sense of how the cream slides through the cakes before actually constructing the assembly line. (You can't sell as many cakes if the cream smudges the polythene container window!)

Williams says the firm has 90 employees in such far-flung locations as Germany, the United Kingdon, China, Japan, and India. But about half the employees are right here in the Charlottesville home office. And they may get to remain despite the acquisition.

Although Autodesk is busily grabbing up this and other technology companies in order to snag a piece of what Williams describes as a $3 billion market, he voices confidence that the Blue Ridge Numerics team will remain intact despite the acquisition by Autodesk.

"They're not just buying the software," says Williams. "They're getting some really great people."


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What an impressive executive team. Congratulations to all.

This is an example of team work, creativity and imagination that will lead America into the 21st century. Problem solving on this level has always been our countries strong suit, and is an example of what a free society can accomplish.

This type of innovation can provide a model for the rest of the world and continue to keep young minds challenged.

Harnessing these innovations for good rather than evil will be a responsibility for all of us.

inspiring story... love it

I would love to have a print of the above shown computer graphic image for my son's room.