John A. Swanson – The Father of ANSYS
John A. Swanson is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and the founder of ANSYS Inc.
He graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1963 and began work that year at Westinghouse Astronomical Laboratory in Pittsburgh. Between 1963 and 1969, he obtained a PhD in Applied Mechanics from the University of Pittsburgh.
At Westinghouse, he was responsible for structural analysis of the NERVA rocket nuclear engine components, when he began developing FORTRAN software to study and predict transient stresses and displacements of reactors. John aimed to compile the various codes at Westinghouse into one, making it easy for engineers to save time and resources.
Not being supported by Westinghouse in this initiative, he decided to leave in 1969 and in 1970 founded Swanson Analysis Systems (SASI) at his Pittsburgh country house. The ANSYS software was developed using punctured cards and the calculations, which took several days, were performed on the hourly leased U.S. Steel mainframe. At that time, installing ANSYS on a customer always meant carrying a large suitcase full of punctured cards to “power” the computer.
Meanwhile Westinghouse hired John as a consultant and interestingly was his first client to use ANSYS.
In 1991, SASI already had 153 employees and an annual revenue of $ 29 million, controlling 10% of the finite element simulation software market.
In 1993 John A. Swanson sold SASI to TA Associates, and in 1994 it was renamed ANSYS Inc., a name he still holds today. John remained attached to ANSYS as president, CEO and director until 1999, the year he retired from the company as CTO. John has been a board member of the ASME Foundation and has also been a management director at the University of Pittsburgh since 2006.
Between 1986 and 2006, he received several awards and awards, including:
- 1986/1987 – Engineer of the Year by ASME
- 1988 – Pittsburgh Entrepreneur of the Year
- 1990 – Computers in Engineering Award for their contribution to the engineering and computing industries
- 1994 – One of the TOP 5 from TOP50 de R&D from US
- 2003 – honorary member of ASME
- 2004 – John Fritz Medal by American Association of Engineering Societies (considered the biggest distinction in an engineering profession)
- 2006 – President’s Award by ASME
While recognizing the value that ANSYS has brought to society and the impact it has had on all engineering areas, it is in the field of philanthropy that John is most proud and pleased. One of his favorite phrases is: “He who dies rich has failed,” by Andrew Carnegie.
You have a deep need to give back everything engineering has given you. As a high school and university student, she received scholarships to help pay for her studies, and Westinghouse paid her doctoral degree. For these reasons, shortly after selling SASI, it created a fund with this money to invest mainly in engineering education.
At Cornell University he established the Swanson Fund for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. He made two significant contributions to the Duffield Hall project and established the Dorothy G. Swanson Award at a school in honor of his mother.
At the University of Pittsburgh, John donated millions of dollars to the university and its engineering school. Including a $ 41.3 million grant in 2007, considered the largest single-person grant to the university to date in 220 years. The university changed its name to “John A. Swanson School of Engineering” in honor of his donation and engineering achievements.
In 2010, he presented diplomas at the University of Pittsburgh and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree during the ceremony.
Recently invested in the company Applied Quantum Technology (AQT) and belongs to the direction of it. AQT is a solar panel manufacturer and has installed several solar panels in the community under a project with the University of Pittsburgh.
To learn more about this entrepreneur and philanthropist from a more personal perspective, we invite you to listen to this interview in the first quarter of 2019 on ANSYS channel partner PADT Inc.: