April 2021 Newsletter

Myles Baker

Letter from the President

Thank you for taking the time to keep up with the happenings at M4. It’s been an exciting quarter for us – we have added quite a few new faces and some important new capabilities. We are all keeping our heads down doing the hard work that comes with this, but the quarterly newsletter is a good excuse to come up for air and take a look at the big picture. We have some important new research projects in high technology composites, some exciting flight hardware in development and testing, and as always, more facilities, equipment, and people. Even more exciting than the best project, contract, or capability is the fact that we have started more face to face interactions – we hosted our first customer visit in quite some time last month! As Covid-19 cases decline and more people get the vaccine, we are looking forward to resuming our normal in-person operations across the board in the coming months. As always, thanks for joining us and for your continued support.

Company Culture Part 2 – A Growing Business

This year, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of M4 Engineering by retelling the story of the company from its start in 2001. Continuing from where we left off in our January Newsletter, here is part two of our Origin Story, where we’ll be covering the biggest projects and milestones from 2005 to 2010.

 

In 2005, M4 Engineering started to see growth in more ways than one. While Dr. Myles Baker, M4’s founder and President, began recruiting and hiring more engineers, he was also finding more work and increasing M4’s diverse portfolio. But beyond hard work and determination, luck also played a role. Myles thinks that many of M4’s early successes were thanks to an unexpected project (and a dash of networking). 

 

In 2004, a large aerospace company (a customer of a customer) ran into a problem where they couldn’t show that a design already in production was safe for flight. The company discovered this on a Saturday and started to call various companies in seek of help. One of the companies  they called was an M4’s client. The client reached out to Myles about the problem and the M4 team to by Sunday the M4 team was on-site and started to help solve this unexpected problem. 

 

“So, basically, being ready to jump in when somebody needs help is really important and opens up lots of opportunities,” 

 

Thanks to M4’s quick response and solid work, M4 was able to grow in ways the team hadn’t seen before. “So, basically, being ready to jump in when somebody needs help is really important and opens up lots of opportunities,” Myles said. “I could probably trace the relationships that we made on that program and how that resulted in ten other programs over the years.”

While Myles isn’t sure of just how impactful the event was, he credits that spontaneous weekend project to many of M4’s future successes.  

 

In fact, one project that stemmed from this event was when M4 worked on the landing gear for an unmanned airplane in 2008. Myles sees that project as “a big deal” and another one of the major factors that helped M4 move from solely working in the research & development (R&D) world into supporting real flying programs.

 

From 2005 to 2010, M4 increasingly worked on Boeing & Airbus aircraft components, while also supporting a variety of new and interesting projects including a carbon-fiber passenger door conversion for commercial planes and even a few roller coasters. As for research, M4 expanded its scope and worked on a multitude of projects such as supersonic planes, hypersonic aircraft underwater vehicles, and space launch vehicles, just to name a few. 

 

While M4 did most of its work at the time in the aerospace and defense industries, the company also found opportunities in renewable energy with a very unique project in wind energy. Modular Wind Energy Inc. developed and worked with M4 to demonstrate how to build a wind turbine blade in sections that would make transporting, installing and repairing turbine blades much easier. This led to additional work in the field, including a project where Myles sent out teams around the country to help repair wind turbine blades. Unlike M4’s previous work, Myles said, “It gave us experience in actually managing our own hands-on crews all over the country.”

 

“It gave us experience in actually managing our own hands-on crews all over the country.”

 

Myles also credits his team of employees for the company’s early successes and transition into commercial projects. “We had a really strong technical core and we’d really put together a great team using the R&D efforts. It positioned us very well to pursue larger commercial projects.” 

 

Exploring M4’s ability to handle projects beyond R&D, M4 started to expand more than ever. “I think that’s really when we hit on the synergy between the R&D and the engineering service-type projects,” Myles said. Over time, M4 confidence in its abilities kept growing as did its project portfolio. More diverse technical challenges kept on coming our way. “We were pretty aggressive in terms of things we would go after and projects we would take on,” Myles said.

 

“I think that’s really when we hit on the synergy between the R&D and the commercial engineering service-type projects” 

 

Exploring M4’s ability to handle projects beyond R&D, M4 started to expand more than ever. “I think that’s really when we hit on the synergy between the R&D and the engineering service-type projects,” Myles said. Over time, M4 confidence in its abilities kept growing as did its project portfolio. More diverse technical challenges kept on coming our way. “We were pretty aggressive in terms of things we would go after and projects we would take on,” Myles said. 

 

Thinking back to M4’s inception in 2001, Myles said, “it was exciting to see M4 grow and succeed.” As the company reached its 10-year anniversary in 2011, Myles and the team of 13 at the time saw a surge in projects, clients, and employees. M4 had reached a critical mass and it got a lot easier as everyone began pulling in the same direction.

 

Now, as we’re approaching our 20th anniversary, the team of almost 40 engineers can look back and thank a fortuitous weekend project, a landing gear and a journey into wind energy for helping lift M4 to new heights. Make sure to stay tuned for our next newsletter, where we’ll continue to explore M4’s greatest projects as we dive into the 2010s.

Company News

M4 Partners with DIPRO

In March 2021, M4 Engineering established a strategic partnership with Digital Process Ltd. (DIPRO), an engineering and manufacturing solutions & software company from Japan. DIPRO is headquartered in Japan, and has multiple offices across the country and in China. Through this partnership, M4 will offer similar premium support for NSTK (Nissan Supplier Tool Kit) as DIPRO does in Japan and also distribute DIPRO Xphere, VridgeR software, and provide technical services in North America. This partnership aims at providing North American customers access to DIPRO’s unique software and support services. To learn more about this partnership, please contact?Rasel Khan.

M4 Expands, Again!

Last quarter we announced a 50% expansion of the M4 Testing and Prototyping Center. This quarter, M4 is once again excited to reveal the Testing and Prototyping Center continues to grow! The site has already doubled in size since the ribbon cutting less than a year ago, resulting in new CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) Machining capabilities and a significant increase in the number of tests that can be run in parallel. To see what testing, prototyping, and manufacturing M4 can do for you, click?this link?or contact?Brent Scheneman.

UCSD and M4 Receive $6 Million for ULI Efforts

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M4 has partnered with University of California, San Diego-led team to assist NASA with aeronautical research through NASA’s University Leadership Initiative. The team was selected in January 2021 as one of the five teams that will participate in the fourth round of this program. The University Leadership Initiative gives the academic community an opportunity to support NASA’s aeronautical research goals and provides students with valuable experience solving real-world technical challenges. The team’s proposal selected for award was titled, “Rapid Development of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Vehicle Concepts through Full-Configuration Multidisciplinary Design, Analysis, and Optimization.” The team will be focusing largely on research to improve the safety, noise reduction, and affordability of vertical lift air vehicles.

M4 Engineering will assist the team in creating computational tools that will enable U.S. industry to rapidly develop electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles that would fly as part of an Advanced Air Mobility environment. A large portion of M4’s involvement includes leveraging M4 Structures Studio?, a CCRPP-funded software providing rapid concept evaluation and structural optimization of aircraft, in various ways to support the universities in their research.

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Tyler Winter, Manager of Research and Development at M4 and Co-Investigator for the team, expressed enthusiasm towards this award: “This is an exciting opportunity for M4 to be part of a tremendous team and have a positive impact on the development of future electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) and the broader Advanced Air Mobility community!”

client spotlight: Nasa

Everyone knows of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as the government agency producing cutting-edge space probes, fearless astronauts, and seemingly physics-defying spacecraft. But what about the first “A” in NASA, aeronautics??


Despite being most notable today for advancements in space technology, NASA’s foundation was built by its strictly aeronautic predecessor NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics). Formed in 1915 to promote and institutionalize aeronautical experimentation, NACA soon became known as “The Force Behind Our Air Supremacy” for its research on forced induction, which allowed U.S. aircraft to maintain a 15,000 foot power advantage over Axis aircraft in WWII. NACA developments are still utilized today, such as the area rule to reduce drag in modern supersonic aircraft. Even the President of M4 Engineering recently used?NACA reports?dating back to the 1940s to help design unconventional airplanes!

The NACA Test Force at the High-Speed Flight Station in Edwards, CA
Analysis of hypersonic vehicle using MOOL

More than 60 years after NACA’s dissolution, NASA has maintained a pioneer reputation through vigorous efforts towards improving the future of flight. Recent efforts have included advancements in air traffic management tools, supersonic technology, and electrified aircraft propulsion systems for safer, faster, and more sustainable aviation.


M4 Engineering has aided NASA in keeping NACA’s legacy alive through numerous projects regarding aeronautical technology. Among the earliest NASA contracts awarded to M4 was for the creation of the Multidisciplinary Optimization Object Library (MOOL), winning a Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract and Phase II SBIR in the mid-2000s for developments in multidisciplinary analysis and optimization (MDAO) of flight vehicle systems. Through M4’s production of software libraries to address both common and discipline-specific MDAO tasks, NASA’s capabilities for automated analysis, optimization, and virtual test systems for unconventional aircraft were greatly expanded.

Today M4 Engineering and NASA continue to work closely together. One of M4’s most remarkable NASA-funded projects is the development of M4 Structures Studio (M4SS), a physics-based weight prediction software for conceptual aircraft designs. Throughout the software development M4 has received two SBIR contracts and a Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program (CCRPP) contract to finance M4SS and help in designing urban air taxis. Additionally, M4 is currently developing a novel stitched-composite?tank-and-aeroshell arrangement?to advance NASA LH2 technology and allow for more efficient airframe design.

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Most recently, M4 was selected through NASA’s University Leadership Initiative program to facilitate universities in advanced aeronautical research geared towards improving vertical lift air vehicles. To learn more about this initiative check out the Company News section below.

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Going forward, we are excited to continue our conjoint efforts to make NASA’s visions a reality.

Open Positions: M4 Wants You!

Aerospace Engineering Intern

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M4 Engineering is a dynamic and rapidly growing high technology engineering company located in Long Beach. We are currently seeking a highly organized, enthusiastic individual to join our engineering team. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work with a dynamic team performing engineering research and analysis for Department of Defense, NASA, and commercial clients.

Composite Lamination Technician

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A composite lamination technician is needed to support M4’s growing manufacturing capability. This individual will have primary responsibility for supporting a wide range of aerospace programs. Responsibilities may vary from producing composite tooling, material kitting, lamination, and trimming.

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Sales Development Representative

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M4 Sales Development Representative (SDR) is a newly created inside sales position designed to increase the number of sales qualified leads primarily for engineering software but also services. The goal of the position is to open relationships with new companies through a combination of phone calls, emails, and other communication methods.

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Product Spotlight: simcenter star ccm+ Design Manager

Simcenter?STAR-CCM+?is a multiphysics and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software for the simulation of products operating under real-world conditions.?

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Today’s Product Spotlight focuses on Design Manager within Simcenter STAR-CCM+ which brings automated design exploration and optimization within the grasp of all simulation engineers, ensuring that single scenario engineering simulations are a thing of the past.

Despite recent advances, many companies are still deploying simulation in a purely reactive manner to validate or troubleshoot designs late in the product development process. More advanced companies are using simulation in a predictive way to look at performance early in place of physical tests. Although there is great value here, in reducing both engineering time and cost, to harness the full power of simulation, you need to take the next step and use it to guide your design process and create superior products.

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Used properly, engineering simulation allows you to see into the future, predicting the effect of a design change on your product’s behavior. By employing intelligent optimization to find better designs you can use simulation to get a glimpse of multiple or “all possible futures,” exploring how your product performs over the full range of operating conditions of its working life.

Design Manager enables users to do just that by setting up and automatically evaluating families of designs directly within STAR-CCM+, including process management and performance assessment. It leverages the all-in-one platform, automated meshing, pipelined workflow and accurate physics to overcome the complexities that have historically prevented engineers from using CFD simulation in this way.

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As you begin exploring potential designs you can take it one step further and perform single and multi-objective optimization studies to intelligently search the design space using the same time-tested and proven technology found in?HEEDS?MDO. HEEDS also provides stochastic analysis to help engineers determine the sensitivity of their simulation predictions to small changes in input parameters, such as manufacturing tolerances or fluctuations in boundary condition values. Please contact us if you have any questions, or wish to learn more about how StarCCM+ and Design Manager could help you create better products faster.

On-Demand Webinar: Aerodynamic Performance of UAM Concepts

Designing and evaluating new rotor configurations

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When it comes to multirotor eVTOLs, the ability to look at variations of blade designs and rotor configurations and their aerodynamic behavior is much more critical than in more traditional fixed wing or rotor aircraft, due to the complexity of their design and interaction with each other.

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In this webinar, we will demonstrate a few ways to overcome some of the challenges involved in modeling these type of vehicles:

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Blade Element Method

Capture transient effects for propeller flows, e.g. vortex shedding, fuselage loading and interactional aerodynamics

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Complex Motion

Combine multiple physics & motion in one simulation for more realistic simulations

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Automated Design Exploration

Allow for aerodynamic database creation and automated design exploration with the use of parametric models

employee spotlight: Dan Stuewe

When Dan Stuewe was young, he had two goals in life: to be an engineer and to have a family. Luckily, he accomplished both, as he has worked in the engineering field since graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1992 and he’s been raising a family with his wife Michelle since they got married in 1994.?

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Before M4, Dan worked at McDonnell Douglas until it turned into Boeing and later United Launch Alliance. Dan joined M4 when his company made the decision to move to Colorado. Wanting to stay in California, he decided it was time to move on.?

(from left) Natalie, Victoria, Mickey, and Dan Stuewe

As luck would have it, Dan put his resume on a job listing website and was contacted by M4. Having worked at such a large company for 15 years, Dan was looking for something smaller, which made M4 a perfect match. “I wanted to work for a small company that was going to be more hands-on, more chance to do something different and new, more chance to be involved directly with what’s going on,” he said. Dan accepted the job and has been with M4 since November 2007.

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Now a Senior Engineer at M4, Dan tackles many projects for the company, frequently conducting stress analyses, mechanical performance analyses, and writing wind tunnel testing software.?

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One of Dan’s favorite aspects of M4 is being able to work on new and unique projects. Dan’s expertise may be in aerospace, but through M4 he’s been able to tackle machinery he hadn’t been able to work on in the past. One memorable project was when he had the chance to work with a theme park in Southern California. He especially enjoyed being able to visit the park while it was under construction to see his work on full display. It might not happen with every project, but, for Dan, it’s “always a bit of a thrill” to see the final product in person (or even only seeing a picture of the final design) following hours of work on the computer.?

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Working with Safran was another highlight of Dan’s time at M4. In fact, he was able to go on a trip to Japan, which was “exciting … and also a really good learning experience on both the project and the experience of working with a Japanese company.”

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While there are perks at M4 like working on a diverse set of projects and being able to fly to Japan, Dan greatly appreciates M4’s working atmosphere. “At a very large company, it’s very easy to be hidden,” Dan said. Being at a smaller company like M4, Dan appreciates being able to use his “engineering creativity,” as he calls it. At M4, Dan said he’s able to use this creativity “to solve problems that you didn’t know how to solve before.” While he enjoys having more responsibility at M4, Dan made sure to mention how much he appreciates his “incredibly smart” co-workers, who are “always willing to offer help.” For Dan, one of the best aspects of the job is working and collaborating with his co-workers, which is something he’s especially missed with the pandemic.?

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Dan also appreciates the sense of accomplishment he feels when he spends a day “in the zone,” and spends the day, or sometimes week, finding an answer to a frustrating problem. “When I go through a day of work and the day flew by and I was able to feel like I accomplished something, that is exciting to me,” Dan said. “Maybe I’m a simple person, but that’s enjoyable to me in a day of work. I don’t need to have jumped out of an airplane to have an exciting day at work.”?

In his free time, Dan likes to spend time woodworking in the garage, making everything from pens to cutting boards. He also enjoys volunteering at his church, whether it’s to build houses in Tijuana or setting up for Sunday service. However, Dan says his main focus in life outside of work is his family. Dan and Mickey have two daughters, Victoria and Natalie, and a black labradoodle named Lucy. Even though his daughters are both adults now, Lucy makes sure to keep Dan busy on the weekends, especially on their early morning walks around the neighborhood.

Recent Blogs

Q-criterion for Vortex Visualization

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Reduce unnecessary repeated analysis and gain key insights into flowfield dynamics through effective visualization of vortical structures in CFD. Learn more about analyzing vortically-dominated flows.

Interference Fit Effect in Simcenter 3D

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Learn how to apply interference fit in a Simcenter 3D contact solution. Take advantage of interference fit to improve fatigue margins for a lug joint.

Automate Design Trade Studies Using Simcenter HEEDS and Simcenter 3D

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Learn how Siemens Simcenter HEEDS and Simcenter 3D can be used to automate design trade studies. This blog post will focus on highlighting an example workflow and give insight into what the user experience looks like. Take advantage of this knowledge to understand what type of problems this workflow can help you solve efficiently.

Just for Fun: Meet the Queen of Crappy Robots

It’s been over the year since the start of the pandemic and far too often we may find ourselves sitting, twiddling our thumbs, waiting for the pandemic to end. If you find yourself in need of something to watch, look no further than Simone Giertz, a Swedish YouTuber, inventor, and robotics enthusiast. Giertz has made everything from a Wake-Up Machine to a haircutting drone and even transformed a Tesla into a truck. While she won’t call herself an engineer, her education in engineering has helped her make a channel full of odd contraptions that may seem pointless, but will definitely make you laugh out loud.?

One of Giertz’s funniest videos is “I made a robot that serves me soup.” The video goes exactly as you would expect it: not well. Her robots may “work,” technically speaking, but they also tend to end up in a giant mess for Giertz, much to the enjoyment of her viewers. Giertz might make “crappy robots,” but she’s certainly having fun building them.

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Over the years, Giertz’s channel has garnered millions of views, she gave her own TED Talk, was featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and even did a video with Mythbusters star Adam Savage. Whether she’s building a practical contraption or a fun experiment, Giertz’s personality and charm bounce off the screen, making her videos very easy to binge-watch. If you need a quick pick-me-up, be sure to check out Simone Giertz’s channel on YouTube! Her videos are bound to get you out of any pandemic boredom.