ESI Engineering's rich history allows us to find the right balance of conventional wisdom and revolutionary innovation.

When it comes to software and technology, it’s often assumed that new is better. At ESI, we’re thrilled every time we can get our hands on the latest and greatest new programs and tools. Our specialty engineers excel at learning and adapting to each generation of new technology and using it to its fullest potential. While we enjoy these modern capabilities, we also understand the importance of building on a strong foundation.

In 1970, ESI was incorporated under the name Environmental Services, Inc. The company was a spin-off of a structural analysis software group at the University of Minnesota in the late 60s that was sponsored by a number of architecture and engineering firms throughout Minnesota. Professor Jack Hanley headed the group and David Pederson, a young graduate student, was writing software that was used by the sponsors on timesharing computers accessed with teletypes from their own offices. This was state-of-the-art computing for the time.

Professor Jack Hanley and David Pederson
Professor Jack Hanley and David Pederson
Dave & Barry
Dave & Barry

ESI’s early years were devoted to structural analysis and design. Soon, the software included other applications for project scheduling and cost tracking. In 1975, Barry Whiteaker, a classmate of Pederson’s, joined the firm. By then ESI was involved in 3D structures and was beginning to enter the area of structural dynamics. Soon there were projects for the analysis of taller buildings, longer bridges, and larger cranes, including analysis of key elements of the largest ship-mounted revolving crane at the time.

The projects became more challenging and ESI’s software was running on the fastest computers of the day, the CDC 7600 and the Cray-1 and Cray-2 at the University of Minnesota. Computer speed and memory size were doubling every year and with each innovation the capabilities and complexity of the software leaped forward to keep pace. Computer graphics became a necessity. ESI was in the thick of it, writing code for pre and post processors for the latest versions of SAP, a finite element analysis program that is still in use today.

In the early 1980s ESI purchased its first computer, a Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) Microvax II. All of the software was converted to the new operating system and we could now do complex finite element analysis and software development in-house.

That was followed by the purchase of our first Spectrum Analyzer and accelerometers. ESI was now doing its own vibration monitoring, down to levels needed for the design of microelectronics laboratories and facilities.

Over the years, we have worked with many clients on buildings, bridges and machines to solve problems in vibration, impact, fatigue, and more recently in noise control. ESI is known as a firm that solves unique problems. The tools continue to evolve, but the heart of what we do is still rooted in finding innovative solutions for our clients.

Office Tower in Bloomington, MN
Office Tower in Bloomington, MN

In 1997, ESI changed its name from Environmental Services, Inc. to ESI Engineering, Inc. While we are environmentally friendly, we knew the name was misleading when we received calls for removing snakes from under porches and restaurant grease disposal. Apparently the plan worked because those calls stopped while calls for our real business grew.

Over the last few decades our projects have included large scale test facilities and equipment for extreme static and dynamic loads. In other cases we have worked with bridge erection and robotic cranes for nuclear waste cleanup. Hospitals, laboratories, and wafer fabs require very low levels of vibration for sensitive equipment such as MRIs, electron microscopes, and photolithography for semiconductors. We also work with vibration and noise caused by our highways, trains, planes, and LRTs.

Noise control is a growing part of ESI’s business. It is often related to vibration control and many of the same principles apply. As public awareness increases about noise being a serious form of pollution in our daily lives, new laws are being passed to limit the noise levels that people can inflict on their neighbors. 

Our clients include governmental agencies that are trying to protect their communities, architects who need assistance with their designs, and building owners who require privacy and comfort.

Now, with more than 45 years of history and experience, we look forward to providing supportive solutions for your projects, working with and learning from good people, and solving intriguing and complex engineering challenges.