Rapid Growth Spurs LSINC to Purchase Building in CRP

LSINC has moved to 490 Discovery Drive. (LSINC Photo)

Less than a year from a ribbon-cutting ceremony when it moved into Cummings Research Park, LSINC has now changed addresses with the purchase of its own building elsewhere in the park.

The time of rapid growth necessitated the purchase for the Huntsville-based company. It will allow LSINC to better serve current customers, as well as allow for planned, targeted expansion into new markets.

“Purchasing a building is our commitment to our customers, employees, and the community,” said CEO Alicia Ryan. “We now have significantly more space and that will allow us to work multiple product-development projects for our clients and more easily accommodate our customers’ propriety and classified projects.

“The timing is wonderful, too, as we’ve recently begun work on our own research and design initiatives, and we now have more room to develop LSINC-branded products.”

The company’s new location is a 51,300 square-foot facility at 490 Discovery Drive. It includes 36,000 square feet of laboratory and manufacturing space with a loading dock and two drive-in doors. Assisting LSINC in site-selection were Binswanger Management and Samples Properties. Fuqua and Partners Architects is assisting with the remodeling and design.

The building will feature a specially designed innovation space with a collaborative environment for creative meetings with clients when launching the design phase of the product development process.

“By integrating our strategy approach with the product development process, we help clients think through all the possibilities and markets for how a product can be used prior to starting the design phase,” said company President Robert Lightfoot. “Our Strategy Assurance approach results in products that are engineered for the right solutions.”

The innovation space also will be used for internal R&D meetings for LSINC-branded products.

Huntsville’s Connection to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

Now that the historic Parker Solar Probe is charging toward the Earth’s sun, scientists are ready to use it to answer decades old mysteries about its core, surface and atmosphere.

“This mission has been the dream of scientists since the beginning of the space age,” says Dr. Gary Zank, director, Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. “To see it finally happening is intensely satisfying. Like all great missions, however, we will learn more than ever imagined and yet will be left wanting to know even more.”

Since the probe launched Aug. 12, the spacecraft and its instruments are going through commissioning to ensure that everything works as designed and planned, Zank says.

“This takes some time,” he said. “There will be a period that data is returned for a first analysis. But once everything is working, and the data begins to flow, that’s when the real mission begins — this is the discovery phase where the probe will begin to spend significant lengths of time in a part of the solar wind, this will occur even before the closest approach to the sun.”

Zank said scientists are “hoping” to see the probe’s first data possibly by the end of October or early November.

“From then on until the end of the mission, there will be a stream of papers describing, discussing, analyzing, relating to theories and models, everything that will be observed,” Zank said. “In fact, we will not have enough people working on this data set to unearth all the gems waiting to be discovered.

“This data will be used during the mission and for decades after, especially because this is a once-in-a-lifetime mission.”

UAH role

Zank, also an eminent scholar and distinguished professor at UAH, is co-investigator on one of the spacecraft’s investigations: The Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons investigation.

That’s where CSPAR comes into play.

CSPAR and Marshall Space Flight Center formed a consortium with Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Los Alamos National Lab, University of California Space Sciences Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to build the SWEAP instruments.

SWEAP instruments will directly measure the properties of the plasma in the solar atmosphere during the probe’s encounters into the sun’s atmosphere over the next seven years. In includes a small instrument that will look around the protective heat shield of the spacecraft directly at the sun. This will allow SWEAP to sweep up a sample of the atmosphere and touch the sun for the first time.

“As fascinating and enjoyable as it is to develop theories and models, unless they’re tested and hopefully validated against observations, it’s about as useful as staring at one’s navel,” Zank said. “So, spacecraft observations are key to ensuring that we can develop testable, quantitative models and theories of the physical phenomena or processes that interest us.”

He said the origin of the solar wind, the high-speed (350 to 800 km/s) flow of charged particles from the solar surface, remains perhaps the outstanding unexplained problem in space physics today. The PSP was built in large part to answer that fundamental question, and basically clear up the mystery that has faced scientists since the start of the space age.

“The Parker Solar Probe is a billion dollar mission so certainly one of the largest heliophysics missions ever flown, and by extension, one of the biggest and most important projects in which CSPAR is involved,” Zank said.

In addition to SWEAP, the other investigations include:

  • The Fields Experiment will measure electric and magnetic fields, radio emissions and shock waves in the sun’s atmospheric plasma.
  • The Integrated Science Investigation of the sun uses two instruments to monitor electrons, protons and ions in the sun’s atmosphere.
  • The Wide-field Imager is a telescope that will make images of the sun’s corona to see the solar wind, clouds and shock waves as they pass by the spacecraft.

Proving a theory?

Then there is Zank’s theories related to how the sun can be hot at its core yet stay relatively cool at its surface, while at the same time super-heating its coronal atmosphere?

“I have developed two theoretical models to explain the heating of the solar corona, which in turn will explain the origin of the solar wind,” Zank said.

Both models, he said, are based on the dissipation of low frequency magnetic turbulence, and the differences reside in certain somewhat technical characterizations of the underlying turbulence.

“Broadly speaking, they’re both turbulence models,” Zank said. “The competing model for heating the solar wind relies on high frequency waves called ion-cyclotron waves, and the damping of these waves is thought to heat the solar corona. PSP will measure directly the coronal plasma using the SWEAP instrument that I’m involved with and the magnetic fluctuations using the Fields instrument.

“The combined results from these two instruments will allow us to infer the nature of the fluctuations and so distinguish between low-frequency turbulence-like and high-frequency wave-like modes. The amount of energy in these fluctuations can be measured as well. From these kinds of measurements, we will be able, if life remains simple and straightforward (not always guaranteed!), we should be able to take the first steps in confirming what the basic heating mechanism is for the solar corona and hence the origin of the solar wind.”



Sangoma acquires Digium for $28 million

Huntsville-based Digium has been purchased by Sangoma Technologies, the companies announced Friday.

Digium, founded in 1999, is the creator of Asterisk, the most widely used open-source communication software in the world.

Sangoma, based in Markham, Ontario, was founded in 1984 and provides unified communications for SMBs, enterprises, OEMs and service providers.

Sangoma agreed Thursday to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Digium. The deal – valued at $28 million, including more than $24 million in cash – is expected to close on or about Aug. 31.

“I created Asterisk and Digium to be disruptive in the communications industry”, said Mark Spencer, founder and chairman of Digium. “I am really proud that it has grown under its current ownership and management to a very successful point, and it is now time to take it to the next stage as part of a larger, public company.

“Given the involvement of both companies in the history of Asterisk dating back to its creation in 1999, Sangoma is the natural home for the Asterisk project.”

The acquisition is, Sangoma’s seventh in seven years. After closing, the merged company will have a combined workforce of more than 300 employees.

“Sangoma and Digium have a long history of working together, while also competing in the marketplace, and have gotten to know each other very well over the years” said Sangoma CEO/President Bill Wignall. “Our relationship and mutual respect allows us both to know that the strategic fit between the two businesses really is excellent.”

Wignall offered assurance to Digium’s employees and customers.

“To the new staff that will be joining us, I’d like to welcome you to the growing Sangoma family,” he said. ‘To our Digium customers and partners around the globe, I’d like to assure you that everyone here at Sangoma remains committed to you, to the Digium products you rely upon, and to further contributing to your success. 

“And, of course, to the Asterisk community, I would like to reassure you that Sangoma recognizes the value of Asterisk and is committed to keeping it open source. We will continue to invest in its development and to seek input from the broad base of developers that has led to its outstanding success.”

 Digium generated approximately $30 million in revenue in its fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2017,

“For many years both companies have had teams working to improve Asterisk and ake it more accessible,” Spencer said. “I believe Sangoma’s commitments should reassure the Asterisk community that Sangoma is dedicated to the project.

“I look forward to seeing the results of tighter collaboration between those teams, and the benefits to the community, now that they will be part of a single company.”

HudsonAlpha conference to bring top researchers to the Rocket City

The Rocket City will become Genome City when researchers gather here for the sixth annual Immunogenomics conference.

Leading immunology and genomics researchers from around the globe will convene at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Oct. 1-3 for the conference.

Immunogenomics lies at the intersection of immunology and genomics and explores the ways in which the human genome interacts with disease. Researchers, students and academics discuss what’s next in the field and how it will help shape the future of human health.

In its sixth year, the Immunogenomics conference is truly international, attracting science leaders, faculty and students from a dozen countries who have the opportunity to learn more about not only HudsonAlpha but also the Rocket City.

HudsonAlpha will host the sixth annual Immunogenomics Conference on Oct. 1-3.

“Everyone who comes here always talks about how great the city of Huntsville is and how they enjoyed being on the HudsonAlpha campus,” said Dr. Devin Absher, faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha and conference organizer. “And at no other conference will you be able to eat dinner under the Saturn V rocket at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.”

Absher serves as a conference committee chair along with Dr. Jian Han, a HudsonAlpha faculty investigator and founder of associate company and conference sponsor, iRepertoire. The company offers reagents and services to amplify and sequence the immune repertoire – a “logbook” of all current and past infections someone has experienced.

“Immune repertoire is the best biomarker because our adaptive immune system uses these receptors as disease sensors in response to disease-specific antigens,” said Han.

Han will present during day three of the conference and discuss the latest research and developments from iRepertoire. In addition, conference attendees will hear keynote presentations from Dr. Jeff Bluestone of the University of California, San Francisco; Dr. Mark Davis of Stanford University; Dr. Ellen Rothenberg of the California Institute of Technology; and Dr. Cisca Wijemga of the University Medical Center Groningen.

Early registration rates are available now through Sept. 6. HudsonAlpha is also offering discounts for academics, students, and nonprofit and government employees. For information/registration, visit immunogenomicsconference.org.

New Radiance Technologies facility ‘brings family back together’

Radiance Technologies plans to move into its new headquarters late next year.

There will be a family reunion when Radiance Technologies’ new headquarters is finished next year.

At the company’s ground-breaking ceremony, Radiance President Bill Bailey said they were ‘bringing the family back together.”

The employee-owned company will be housed in a 100,000 square-foot facility in Cummings Research Park bringing the 500-member “family” together from its current five locations.

“We’re stronger when we’re together,” Bailey said.

Radiance started in 1999 when George Clark, John Dennis and Scott Dublin opened a 3,000 square-foot facility in Executive Plaza with folding tables and chairs as office furniture. The company provides a variety of services and work for primarily government clients in cyber solutions, engineering services, integration and prototyping, operational intelligence and technical intelligence.

Their plan from the outset was to be employee-owned and Bailey cited that concept for the company’s success.

“This is what happens when you have skin in the game,” Bailey said.

The company’s headquarters is on Wynn Drive and will move to the site on Bob Heath Drive in Cummings Research Park next year.

“We’re going to pour concrete next month and construction should take 12 months,” said Gerry Shannon of Triad Properties. “The plans will be finalized at the end of next month.”

The new facility is designed to expand for an additional 30,000 square feet because, according to Bailey, “we will be filled when it opens.”

Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said Radiance is a key player in the community.

“It’s what you do outside the community,” he said. “It’s bigger than meeting the objectives of Radiance; it’s meeting the objectives of the community.”

Harrison Diamond, the city’s business development director who has helped bring companies into Huntsville, said it was great to recognize a local business expand.

“It’s wonderful to watch our home-grown companies growing,” he said.

Bailey saluted the cooperation of the city, the Chamber and county in the growth of Radiance.

“When I’m in other markets, I’m asked why we’re successful,” he said. “… teamwork, unselfish teamwork, that’s the key to success.”

HudsonAlpha ‘Cloud Whisperer’ to present at Google conference

SAN FRANCISCO – HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Technology Director Katreena Mullican has been invited to present at the Google Next ‘18 conference.

Google Next is an international conference where more than 10,000 developers, technology leaders, and entrepreneurs come together to have a collaborative discussion about the Google Cloud Platform. The conference is Tuesday through Thursday.

Mullican has more than 20 years of experience in architecting Linux, virtualization and hybrid cloud solutions. As HudsonAlpha’s Cloud Whisperer, Mullican brings her expertise in automation of on-prem composable and public cloud infrastructure for scientific applications and workflows to the Institute.

“HudsonAlpha is one of the top sequencing centers in the world, so it’s my job to think outside the box to design hybrid platforms appropriate for our sequencing and research workloads,” said Mullican.

Mullican will participate in a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Cloud Talk Tuesday to discuss how HudsonAlpha uses the composable HPE Synergy platform for an on-premises Kubernetes cluster that can scale to Google Cloud Platform.

“HPE Synergy chose HudsonAlpha as its first customer in 2015,” said Mullican. “With Synergy, we have increased our data analysis speed, which allows researchers to provide answers to patients with rare or undiagnosed diseases at a much faster rate.”

At a breakout session, Mullican will present “Implementing Scalable Storage for Kubernetes on GCP: Container Mobility Requires Data Mobility.” She will discuss how HudsonAlpha is utilizing the Elastifile hybrid cloud solution for container mobility.

BAE expansion in Cummings Research Park to create hundreds of jobs

Rendering shows the BAE Systems planned 83,000 square-foot facility in Cummings Research Park.

“It’s rainy outside but we have sunny news today.”

And, with those words, Joe Newberry, past chair of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, began Monday’s economic announcement.

BAE Systems announced a $45.5 million project to expand its operations in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park. The expansion will bring hundreds of jobs and the new building is expected to be complete in 2019.

“This puts us close to our customers,” said Bill Staib, deputy vice president and general manager of survivability, targeting, and sensing solutions for BAE Systems. “There is an extremely rich talent pool here … and we’re going to tap into that.

“We’re going to start hiring this year.”

Plans include the immediate expansion of BAE’s offices on Discovery Drive and the development of an 83,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing and office space facility on a 20-acre site at the intersection of Old Madison Pike and Jan Davis Drive. BAE is working with developer Samples Properties, Fuqua & Partners Architects and Pearce Construction on the project.

Staib said it will be about half manufacturing and half office space for engineers doing development work.

“We plan to grow beyond that,” Staib said. “BAE Systems is growing. We’re growing in Huntsville; we’re expanding in Huntsville … we’re hiring.”

He said the expansion will allow BAE Systems – the third-largest defense contractor in the world – to establish a closer working relationship with its critical customers in the U.S. Army and the Redstone Arsenal community. Work will consist of new programs and existing business, including the design, development, and manufacturing of precision munitions and aircraft survivability technology.

“We’ve been working on the project for eight years,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “BAE has people in Huntsville for six months looking over the community.”

Chip Cherry, president and CEO of the Chamber, agreed that deals like this take time.

“We met with BAE Systems’ senior leadership at the Farnborough International Air Show in 2016 to discuss the advantages of being in Huntsville/Madison County,” he said. “We are at the Air Show again this year meeting with more companies about establishing and expanding their presence in Huntsville.”

The news brought sunlight to the rainy day – a harbinger of things to come?

“We’ve got a great team to let people know Madison County is open for business,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong. “I truly believe our best days are ahead.”


Teledyne to start space-based imaging

A Teledyne Brown Engineering-built sensor system will soon be sending images from the International Space Station.

Teledyne Technologies announced the successful launch of the DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (DESIS) to the International Space Station (ISS) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.  Over the next three months, the DESIS instrument, designed and built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), will be installed and tested on Teledyne Brown Engineering’s Multi-User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES) aboard ISS.

“Our partnerships with NASA and DLR expand the commercial use of the ISS and will provide our Governments with unique imaging data,” said Robert Mehrabian, Teledyne Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  “Leveraging the infrastructure of the International Space Station and the remaining available payloads on MUSES, we hope for additional opportunities to support cost effective development and installation of other instruments designed for low earth orbit observation missions.”

DESIS, a hyperspectral sensor system, was designed, developed and built in Huntsville. With continuous coverage at an altitude approximately 250 miles above the Earth, the DESIS instrument will broaden our knowledge about agriculture, biodiversity, geology, water ecosystems and detect natural or man-made changes to the Earth’s

Systems aboard the MUSES have the flexibility to be returned to Earth for repair, refurbishment or replacement and then sent back to the platform for further use and testing.  This unique return capability will allow DESIS to be returned to Earth after its lifespan of five to eight years for examination to determine the effects of exposure to space conditions.

“Our vision was to create partnerships with DLR, NASA, CASIS and others to enable MUSES and the ISS to expand capabilities to view and assess the earth’s surface,” said TBE President Jan Hess.  “We are ecstatic to get the DESIS in place as MUSES’s first payload and have the ability to share its data with the world’s science and commercial communities.”

The MUSES platform, coupled with DESIS, will assist in the advancement of Earth imaging, mapping, disaster recovery and agricultural assessments. Hyperspectral data from DESIS will also enable the DLR institutes to build new earth observation applications for areas such as commercial applications and precision farming.

Teledyne’s MUSES platform was developed as part of a cooperative agreement with NASA to create opportunities for both government and commercial applications such as imaging, technology demonstration, and space qualification payloads supporting research, scientific studies and humanitarian efforts.

‘Strong community partner’ LG Electronics expands in Huntsville with solar panel plant

Life’s good in Huntsville – literally and figuratively.

LG Electronics, a long-time player in Huntsville has business announced plans for a $28 million solar panel assembly plant.

The plant will create 160 jobs and workers will assemble LG’s “Neon 2” series 60-cell modules. The high-performance solar panels will generate more than 17 percent more power than most conventional panels. The factory is the first solar panel manufacturing plant in the state.

“LG has a long history as a leading corporate citizen in Alabama. Now, LG is launching our state’s first solar manufacturing plant, which represents a major milestone both for Alabama and for the company,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “We look forward to seeing where this great partnership takes us in the future.”

The panels will be produced on two production lines at a building on the company’s 48-acre campus in Huntsville, where the company has had operations for four decades. The new jobs will increase LG’s employment by 60 percent, to more than 400 workers.

Starting in early 2019, the new plant is expected to produce 500 megawatts of high-performance solar panels annually.

“That’s over a million solar panels a year,” said Soon Kwon, global president of the LG B2B (Business-to-Business) Company.“LG has long called Huntsville home, and the solar panel assembly factory will add a significant new dimension to our Alabama campus.

“Huntsville’s high-quality workforce and LG’s established presence in the Rocket City point to a bright future for LG in Alabama.”

The new solar panel assembly plant in Huntsville underscores the company’s commitment to investing in the U.S. and to driving environmental sustainability, Kwon said.

“LG has been a strong community partner in Huntsville for many decades – a relationship that has deepened through visits to the company’s headquarters in Korea and successful advancements in technological innovation,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “LG chose Huntsville as the place to do business in the U.S. more than 30 years ago, and they’ve chosen Huntsville again as a place to prosper with the new solar module plant.”

The company’s new solar module plant builds on LG’s legacy of leadership in Huntsville. After starting as the company’s first U.S. manufacturing subsidiary in 1981, Huntsville became the home of LG’s service division in 1987, which expanded over the years to support LG’s growing presence in the United States.

“With the expansion of LG in the Huntsville-Madison County region, LG will utilize the latest technology in a high-growth market to produce these solar panels,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong. “The diversity and worldwide recognition of the Madison County economy demonstrates we continue to thrive with our finest hours still ahead.”

As the headquarters location for North American service operations in the Jetplex Industrial Park at Huntsville International Airport, the facility includes the technical call center, service training center, field service operations and parts warehouse.

“The Jetplex continues to grow with this most recent announcement from LG, a global leader in home appliance, consumer electronics and mobile communications,” said Rick Tucker, executive director of the Port of Huntsville. “LG’s sole customer service division for the North American market is onsite already, so to see the company make a further investment in our community by expanding at our facility speaks volumes and is very exciting news for us to be able to share with other business partners who are considering making North Alabama and the Jetplex Industrial Park their home.”

BWX Technologies: Huntsville’s nuclear option

Huntsville has undergone several identities over the past century: From cotton capital to the Rocket City to the Silicon Valley of the South.

Now, there’s a new addition to the city’s monikers – The New Wave of Nuclear.

And leading that wave is BWX Technologies, a leading supplier of nuclear components and fuel to the U.S. government and commercial customers. The Virginia-based company held a ribbon-cutting Thursday for its office in Cummings Research Park.

“We are the nuclear manufacturing company that people never heard of,” said company President/CEO Rex Geveden.

Geveden, who spent 17 years at NASA, joined BWXT in 2015 as chief operating officer, responsible for all operating business units. Previously, he was executive vice president at Teledyne Technologies, leading two of the four Teledyne operating segments – including Teledyne Brown in Huntsville.

“I joined the company because I thought it had promise,” he said. “We manufacture all the fuel, nuclear core and systems for every carrier and sub in the Navy’s fleet.”

The company is also setting its sights on helping space travel – BWXT was awarded a contract by NASA to initiate conceptual designs for a nuclear thermal propulsion reactor in support of a possible future manned mission to Mars.

“That’s an exciting thing about having BWXT here,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “They do really cool things when you think of thermo-nuclear propulsion.

“This brings a new market to our area … makes us stronger, makes Huntsville a better place.”

Geveden said BWXT will eventually hire about 75 to 150 people in Huntsville. “The talent pool here is very important to us.”

BWXT has a vision for the future in Huntsville.

“We’re not here for market share,” Geveden said. “We’re here for market creation.”