ORLANDO — East of downtown Orlando there is a high-tech research corridor that has been established around the progressive University of Central Florida (UCF), which seeks to become the “nation’s leading metropolitan research university,” according to its mission statement. Of the associated companies that have sprung up around this corridor is ProductivityAPEX, Inc., founded by Mansooreh Mollaghasemi, Ph.D., who in the early 1990s joined UCF as a professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering. In 2001, she founded ProductivityAPEX with the help of a
contract from NASA. Out of that effort grew an initiative with Orlando International Airport for simulation modeling for security and other
passenger movements through its terminals. The MCO project completed, Dr. Mollaghasemi seeks to branch out to other airports with a program that is readily adaptable and designed for airport staff use once the research is finished.
Explains Dr. Mollaghasemi, “I’ve always had a lot of passion for real-world applications. I’ve always geared my research toward that.
“I started this company with the goal of bringing all those tools and the research that had gone into methodologies and tools to solve real-world applications. The motto at the company has always been, build once and use many times. We didn’t set out to be a consulting firm. We set out to be a customized product development company. AirSim is a prime example of that.”
Before ProductivityAPEX got involved with airports, it first teamed up with NASA. According to Dr. Mollaghasemi, her company was the first to perform end-to-end modeling of the space agency’s flight hardware elements, from the moment the shuttle lands to when it relaunches.
Says Dr. Mollaghasemi, “Through that, and the next generation of launch technology — the crew exploration vehicle — we built this methodology that involves generic modeling, putting models together really quickly.
“It’s the [same] technology we used to build for airports; we just changed the template.”
Maurice ‘Mike’ M. Callinan, president of ProductivityAPEX, is the person responsible for marketing the program to airports. He spent some 30 years in Navy facility and aircraft maintenance, he says, which gave him an understanding of aerospace and associated product applications.
“Our tools are very data-intensive,” says Callinan. “We have to be very well-versed in the gathering of data.
“It’s a little bit of an intersection of the technologies of modeling and simulation, data-mining, and software engineering. Bringing those together is where we have focused to come up with the products we have.”
ProductivityAPEX also is involved in modeling supply-chain solutions and offers the industry a supply-chain assessment tool among its products (www.productivityapex.com).
AIRSIM — an airport application
ProductivityAPEX promotes its AirSim product as providing airport decisionmakers with the information needed to act instead of react, to identify throughput bottlenecks in an airport terminal, and to give managers the tools to be able to make their facilities operate more efficiently.
The company got involved with Orlando International at a time when the airport was trying to alleviate pressures on its passenger screening lanes while also determining capacity needs as it considered construction of a proposed south terminal.
Explains Dr. Mollaghasemi, “We were in contact with Orlando International at a time when they were having problems processing things as quickly as pre-9/11. They asked us to take a look at how we could really quantify the capacity — how high the number of passengers could go with the current facilities.
“It would serve to help determine whether to build the new terminal or not. With technologies like e-ticketing, you don’t need that much space; you can process passengers faster.
“We put the initial model together for them as a proof of concept.”
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