It All Started When... The History & Philosophy of New River Kinematics
It All Started When... The History & Philosophy of NRK
In 1994, two graduate students from Virginia Tech were working on a project for a local nuclear plant involving steam generator changeout. Joe Calkins and Bob Salerno discovered that the data provided by the measurement software wasn’t useful. Furthermore, all of the instruments came with their own individual software, which made collating data a chore. They requested better measurement software, only to find none existed. So, they decided to create one--a software package that would eventually became known as SpatialAnalyzer® (SA).
One of the unique things about the company is the foundation of Joe and Bob’s experience. “We’re mechanical engineers who know how to write programs, not the other way around,” said Joe. Actually, they’re Ph.D.s in mechanical engineering, so that’s even more unusual. “We’re Ph.D.s but not entirely theoretical. We know that sometimes theories don’t work on the factory floor, and I think that’s one of the things that makes us different,” Salerno said. “We apply what we know about engineering to the real world by using it for practical problem-solving.”
In 1996, they premiered their first version of their SA software at the CMSC conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, to the amazement of the industry. “We surprised them with the product—we had graphical measurement software that raised the bar,” Calkins said.
New River Kinematics (NRK), the company that started with two students looking to solve a specific problem, is now a company that solves problems for major international corporations. Their clients include Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Airbus, and contractors for aerospace, ship building and particle accelerators across the country and throughout the world. A choice of modules allows for customized solutions from basic measurement to completely automated production processes. In an industry that relies on precision data, this small start-up company continues to set the standard higher and tighter.
What rapidly made SA the de facto industry standard is that it’s an interface that can be used on any instrument. The user doesn’t need to learn the software of each brand and type of equipment, they can easily transition between equipment while using one software package. “This streamlines data collection and creates universal solutions on the production floor,” Joe said.
“We help our clients solve their problems—it’s part of the relationship we’ve built,” said Bob.