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May 20, 2015
Until a Rose-Hulman graduate is born at the South Pole, Tim Sublette will probably hold the title of hailing from the most distant and remote place in the school’s history.
Sublette, a 1995 computer science graduate and winner of one of this year’s Career Achievement Awards, spent a big chunk of his childhood and teen years living on a South Pacific island equal in size to New York’s Central Park.
Growing up on Kwajalein, a U-shaped island about 1.25 square miles in size lying about 600 miles north of the equator and close to absolutely nothing, fostered in Sublette a sense of independence mixed with a feeling of community. It also provided for strong individual attention in school. It turns out, these were the same qualities that attracted Sublette later to Rose-Hulman, he says.
“It was life shaping,” Sublette said of growing up on the tiny U.S. military island, where his father worked as an electrical engineer.
Now Sublette is literally shaping the future of manufacturing as Chief Technical Officer for a new and innovative company called 3DSIM, which is based in Park City, Utah, in the Rocky Mountains. The company has developed software that will help manufacturers use 3D metal printing to create sophisticated parts at a fraction of the traditional cost.
“This is the most exciting opportunity I’ve been a part of,” Sublette says of 3DSIM, one of several small or startup companies with which he has been involved. Using trial and error to create 3D parts from metal can cost companies millions of dollars and lots of wasted time. The 3DSIM approach, which is to use simulation to reduce trial and error, is expected to hit the market this summer, and will make previously cost-prohibitive manufacturing projects economical. In short, it will revolutionize manufacturing, Sublette says.
“We’re at the front end of the growth curve for this technology”, Sublette noted during a recent campus visit to Rose-Hulman with his wife, Dianne. “It’s really exciting to be a part of this.”
Sublette, a long-time member of the Rose-Hulman Computer Science Advisory Board, received one of the institute’s 2015 Career Achievement Awards on May 2 in Hatfield Hall.
After graduating from Rose-Hulman, Sublette worked as a software developer before launching his own consulting company, TerraFirma Software Design. He later joined a startup company called Aprimo, where he was head of engineering for more than a decade before the company was sold for $525 million to Teradata, a data management company. Sublette then joined ZirMed, a leading medical billing and information business. At ZirMed, Sublette doubled the size of the engineering department and introduced a sustainable software development process still in use today.
Sublette learned about Rose-Hulman as a child thanks to his grandfather, Paul Dierdorf, a 1933 graduate, but says he was attracted to the school for the same reasons he enjoyed life in the South Pacific—the strong sense of community, independence and individual attention.
“The standards and expectations were very, very high,” Sublette recalls of his student days. He also appreciates the bond he now shares with thousands of fellow Rose-Hulman alumni around the world. “There’s an automatic bond with lots of people out there.”