In 1970 ESI was incorporated under the name Environmental Services, Inc. The company was a spin-off of a structural analysis software group at the University of Minnesota in the late 60’s. The group was sponsored by a number of architecture and engineering firms throughout Minnesota. Professor Jack Hanley headed the group and David Pederson, a young graduate student, was writing software that was used by the sponsors on timesharing computers accessed with teletypes from their own offices. This was state of the art computing for the time.
The early years of the company were devoted to structural analysis and design. Soon the software included other applications for project scheduling and cost tracking. ESI was growing and in 1975 Barry Whiteaker, a classmate of Pederson’s, joined the firm. By then ESI was involved in 3-D structures and was beginning to enter the area of structural dynamics.
While Minnesota is not an earthquake area, one of our early clients was building fuel handling equipment and fuel storage racks for nuclear power plants around the country and overseas. As work on these projects grew, ESI became increasingly involved in structural dynamics. The project list continued to expand and new opportunities with it. Soon there were projects for the analysis of taller buildings, longer bridges and larger cranes, including analysis of key elements of the largest ship mounted revolving crane at the time.
The projects became more challenging and ESI’s software was running on the fastest computers of the day, the CDC 7600 and the Cray-1 and Cray-2 at the University of Minnesota. Computer speed and memory size were doubling every year and with each innovation the capabilities and complexity of the software leaped forward to keep pace. Computer graphics became a necessity. ESI was in the thick of it, writing code for pre and post processors for the latest versions of SAP, a finite element program that is still in use today.
In the early 1980's ESI purchased its first computer, a Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) Microvax II. All of the software was converted to the new operating system and we could now do complex analysis and software development in-house.
That was followed by the purchase of our first Spectrum Analyzer and accelerometers. ESI was now doing its own vibration monitoring, down to levels needed for the design of microelectronics laboratories and facilities.
Over the years, we have worked with many clients on buildings, bridges and machines to solve problems in vibration, impact, fatigue, and more recently in noise control. ESI became known as a firm that solved special problems. The tools continued to evolve, but the heart of what we do is still solving problems with the experience that continues to build on a shared desire of our staff to find innovative solutions for our clients.
In 1997 ESI changed its name from Environmental Services, Inc. to ESI Engineering, Inc. The reason for the change was an attempt to avoid confusion. While we are environmentally friendly, we knew the name was misleading when we received calls for removing snakes from under porches and restaurant grease disposal. Apparently the plan worked because those calls stopped but calls for our real business continued.
Special projects included large scale test facilities and equipment for extreme static and dynamic loads. In other cases we have worked with bridge erection and robotic cranes for nuclear waste cleanup. Hospitals, laboratories and wafer fabs require very low levels of vibration for sensitive equipment such as MRI’s, electron microscopes and photo lithography for semiconductors. We also work with vibration and noise caused by our highways, trains, planes and LRT’s.
Noise control is a growing area of ESI’s business. It is often related to vibration control and many of the same principles apply. As public awareness increases that noise is a serious form of pollution in our daily lives, new laws are being passed to limit the noise levels that people can inflict on their neighbors. Our clients include governmental agencies that are trying to protect their communities, architects who need assistance with their designs and building owners who require privacy and comfort.
Now, with more than 40 years of history and experience, we look forward to new challenges. We want to continue working with good people and solving interesting problems in the future.