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Research / Discovery

CSU tech-transfer company flies high

August 25, 2011

At Numerica Corp., a research and development company in Loveland, CSU Professor Emeritus Aubrey Poore often sits in a well-loved recliner called the Brown Bomber and thinks in terms of differential equations.

Strength in numbers

Although he may seem earthbound, Poore, who is Numerica’s founder, chief scientist, and CEO, helps advance the company’s wide-ranging projects in tracking space debris, developing sense-and-avoid technology for unmanned aircraft, providing critical technology for the nation’s air and missile defense system, and optimizing space mission design for NASA.

With Numerica, Poore also has the distinction of heading one of the first tech-transfer spinoffs out of CSU’s Research Foundation, or CSURF. The origin of the company, in fact, is a perfect example of how a major research university and industry can work together to advance and apply scientific knowledge.

On the right track

The history of 15-year-old Numerica can be traced to the late 1980s, when Boulder-based IBM approached Poore with an “unsolvable” problem in radar target tracking.

“It was a wonderful high-risk, high-reward problem with real-world applications,” Poore says. “It’s a great example of industry and academia coming together to find a solution.”

Poore, who retired from CSU in 2007, credits the University’s flexible work environment for allowing him to pursue the IBM problem. Poore and a tenacious team of graduate students rolled up their sleeves to write (and re-write seven times) 70,000 lines of software code.  

Detail of a graphic on Numerica's home page depicts software code and algorithms that fuse data from different sensors such as satellites, airborne radar, and ground platforms to provide one common operational picture in real time. (Courtesy of Scott Moore, Scomo Design)

After two years of intense research and sessions in the Brown Bomber, Poore led his students to develop the Multiple Frame Assignment tracker, or MFA, which allowed end-users to dramatically improve upon existing tracking systems of the day.

The tracker gained national attention in 1996 – the same year Poore founded Numerica – when the U.S. Air Force selected Poore’s technology as the best-of-breed tracking system. Soon after, Numerica incorporated and acquired patent rights to the MFA tracker from CSURF, giving Numerica control of its flagship product.

“Aubrey took a chance and was a real pioneer when he started Numerica,” says CSURF president and CEO Kathleen Henry, who isn’t alone in her sentiments. Poore was honored with the CSU Alumni Association’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 1999 and CSURF’s Technology Transfer Award in 2004.

“When Aubrey won the Technology Transfer Award, it was a double celebration,” Henry says. “It recognized both his hard work and his entrepreneurial spirit.”

All in the (Ram) family

Poore says that Numerica is much bigger than one person, and the company thrives because he has always been surrounded by good people.

Four family members are part of the team. Poore’s wife, Jennifer, was a driving force behind incorporation and son Jeff (’94) joined Numerica in 1998 when the company was in its infancy. He’s now president and COO.

“Building a world-class technology company in our hometown community has been incredibly rewarding,” Jeff Poore says. “Partnering with my dad has made this an experience of a lifetime.”

Jeff’s wife, Emily (‘99), heads the accounting department, and sister-in-law Carla is the national talent scout who recruits top candidates from the best schools in the country.

Numerica’s ties to CSU don’t end with the Poores. Eleven out of nearly 50 employees are CSU alumni who hold degrees in physics, applied math, computer science, business, and management.

Find out more about Numerica, one of CSU’s first tech-transfer spinoffs.