Fayetteville Company Keeps Engineers in Arkansas

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 12:00 am  

The facility's products include power modules for the Air Force's F-35 Lightning II fighters. In 2009, APEI won an R&D 100 award from R&D Mag for one of the modules. APEI is also designing for the oil industry, which needs instruments that can survive extreme temperatures.

During the next two years, Lostetter said, APEI will build a second, 13,000-SF manufacturing facility and grow its production rate to 20,000 units per year.


A World Leader

The development of APEI is important: It gives highly trained engineers a reason to stay in Arkansas.

"We're in an area that is very new and emerging," Hornberger said. "We're actually one of the leaders in what we do in the world. We're growing pretty rapidly, becoming key players in the field of high-performance power electronics systems."

Before he graduated from UA, Hornberger had no inkling that he would be able to use his talents so close to home.

"A lot of graduates from UA went off," he said. "There weren't any jobs here; it was an East Coast-West Coast type of deal. Now we're recruiting them to come back."

"It's a great thing," Lostetter said. "There are so many engineers at the university that when they graduate, they have to leave the state to get a good job. Now we've got a great company right here, where they can graduate and come into. Even at the undergraduate level, we bring them in for working part time and internships."

Lostetter feels that power electronics are going to remain significant, too.

"There's a huge variety of applications for renewable energy, solar arrays, solar panels - those require power electronics," he said. "Wind turbines for wind energy - those require power electronics. All of those systems are areas we're targeting for commercial use."

Ritchie reported APEI's general annual revenue for 2011 was $7.6 million. Lostetter said APEI has been growing at a rate of 40 percent per year and he said he doesn't see that slowing down.

"We're tying that to a great program here at UA," he said. "We're putting out engineers that specialize in this area. It's a very core expertise here in the region that you can't find anywhere else in the world."

Kraig Olejniczak is still chairman of APEI's board, and this summer he will return to Fayetteville to work with the APEI team for the first time in 10 years.

"I think the ideas that were conceived in the mid- to late 1990s are as valid today or more so than when we first conceived of them," he said. "The executive team and all the employees at APEI have done a masterful job of focusing on best-in-class work through creative, innovative problem solving. I'm very impressed with everyone there, and I'm anxious to work side-by-side with them to take the company to the next level."



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