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Engineering Edge

Profile: Roland Feldhinkel

Introducing the new General Manager of the Mentor Graphics’ Mechanical Analysis Division.

The recent promotion of Roland Feldhinkel from Product Line Director to General Manager of the Mechanical Analysis Division is a milestone in the history of the Division. Roland brings a diverse and eclectic résumé to the role, he started out as a pilot of military helicopters and a Captain in the German army, (where he obtained a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the German Military Academy) and ended his time in the German army as an instructor for new recruits.

When he left the army, Roland set up an engineering consulting company, SolidTeam, in northern Germany with a university colleague, offering structural analysis (FEM) services for aerospace companies, using an early version of Cosmos (now part of the SolidWorks suite of products). The duo quickly realized that becoming resellers of the Cosmos product line in Germany would be beneficial as a result of the wave of FEM analysis happening in the early to mid 1990s. In 1996 Roland met Alexander Sobachkin from Moscow at the spring CeBIT Computer Expo Fair in Germany. Alexander had a radical CFD code that needed commercializing. In the same year, SolidTeam became resellers of the fledgling 3D CAD product, “SolidWorks” and were one of the first distributors in Germany for the product that subsequently took the CAD market by storm.

SolidTeam generated enough revenue from reselling SolidWorks to fund a business partnership with Alexander’s team in Moscow to allow for the development of a new type of finite volume, immersed boundary, cartesian mesh CFD software that had originated in the Russian aerospace sector in the late 1980s (see Figure 1). Roland and Alexander identified the opportunity to embed the CFD technology inside the SolidWorks MCAD product to offer both high productivity as well as upfront design benefits to both designers and engineers who had never used CFD before. In 1998 they took an extraordinary risk to “go it alone” and founded Nika GmbH, targeting the CFD market with a new type of CFD they called “Engineering Fluid Dynamics”. The product morphed into several CAD variants over the next five to six years, including what became the foundational technology for SolidWorks Flow Simulation and all the variants of FloEFD that Mentor Graphics sells today. It is also the enabling technology for FloTHERM XT.

Roland’s experience includes all the unpredictability of establishing and running a start-up business: managing start-up venture capitalists; living hand-to-mouth during cash flow difficulties; controlling exceptional high growth scenarios (Nika GmbH grew 200% between 2004 and 2006); creating and developing a reseller and direct sales channel network; and then overseeing the acquisition process with potential purchasers. Nika GmbH was acquired by Flomerics Ltd in 2006 and then in 2008 Mentor Graphics acquired Flomerics. Through both dislocations Roland led the transfer of both FloEFD and FloTHERM/FloVENT technologies into one product strategy and roadmap. Since 2008, ever closer EDA integrations with his product line inside Mentor Graphics, ultimately culminated in the release of FloTHERM XT last year.

Throughout Roland’s 25 year CFD/CAE career he has maintained a strong vision for design-focused engineering products closely coupled with CAD. Having lived and worked in the UK, US and Germany, he built a strong family culture at Nika that still exists today.

Time with his two sons, a love of classical music and literature fills his spare time. With Roland we will have continuity of our roadmap, a strong passion for technology innovation and an acceleration of innovation inside the Mechanical Analysis Division.

 
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