March 20, 2019

Materials Design Says “I Know Jo, Do You?”

materials-design-01By Jo Mixon

Dr. Paul Saxe

I didn’t realize the intellectually complex work that takes place in the modest setting of a quaint building on South Angel Fire Road until I had the privilege to sit down and speak with Dr. Paul Saxe, CEO of Materials Design. I know Paul as a friend, so from the very onset I asked him to speak to me in laymen’s terms, or quite frankly “Please dumb it down for my brain to be able to comprehend!” He was such a gentleman as he tried to comply with my request.

Materials Design designs software to enable researchers to investigate materials with the goal of making better materials with computers. Their work is at the level of atoms, therefore they can work with and look at any type of material, from metals to polymers (plastics) to semiconductors to liquids like oil and natural gas. Their customers tend to be very high tech. For example the automotive, airplane and semiconductor industries. These clients are always looking for ways to build a better, lighter, safer, more gas or energy efficient product that meets the needs of and even pampers their customer base. They also work with the nuclear and conventional power industry, helping them with safety issues. They supply the tools for their clients to find the safest, best ways to build and maintain their products and/or facilities. All of this is done by brilliant minds inside a hub of powerful computers.

We, as the consumer, tend to take for granted, the intricate details that have gone into the design of our finished products, to make them faster, safer, and better. And to place it all at our fingertips. Within the virtual world of computer software, the Materials Design team designs software for their clients, giving them the tools to conduct experiments within their computers and get the same results they would have gotten conducting the experiments physically in a lab. Using this software, their computers become mini-labs and the scientists can then predict how a material will behave.

Paul worked at the labs in Los Alamos dealing with theoretical chemistry and rational drug design when he began moving more toward the designing of materials. In 1999 he seized an opportunity to go into business for himself. One year later, he brought in a French partner, Erich Wimmer. Together they took Materials Design worldwide. They have customers in more than thirty countries from South Africa and Australia to Europe, China, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Argentina and of course the USA. They employ some of the smartest people in the industry…in the world! There are twenty-four employees; ten are in the United State and fourteen in other countries. Seventeen of these employees are PhD’s. Paul’s son Stephen came on board as Director of Finance, three years ago. He organizes all the finances, banking, and taxes for both the US and European company.

Employees of Materials Design have the freedom to live anywhere they choose in the world. Having begun the company in California, I asked why Angel Fire. While working in Los Alamos, he and wife Susan fell in love with Northern New Mexico. The beauty and the deep-rooted cultural of this area beaconed him. And due to the weather, living in Angel Fire proves to be cost effective. Within his building is a room that houses a very large computer. This room needs to stay at 60 degrees for the computer to function comfortably. To accomplish this, they only have to use a swamp cooler for a few months in the summer, the other nine months nature does it for them. So when their children went off to Universities, Paul and Susan made their home in Angel Fire.

I found my time with Dr. Saxe to be extremely enjoyable and educational. I also believe the profoundly penetrating intellect in this unassuming building radiated so much brilliance, that on my next visit, I shall wear my sunglasses!










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