Engineering Innovative Solutions
By Cindi Courbat
CERTON, Inc. is a proven industry leader in safety-critical systems, software, and electronic hardware certification. Having built its reputation on providing independent verification and validation services to the commercial aerospace industry, the company is turning its expertise to another area where precision is paramount and the margin for error is “0”, namely healthcare equipment. As new technologies are announced almost weekly for medical diagnosis and procedures, CERTON’s expertise has identified a whole new area of opportunity.
With over 50 full time engineers on staff, the company specializes in all aspects of product development with a focus on developing and meeting specific verification and validation standards required to take safety-critical products to market. CERTON has the unique tools, training, and experience to provide optimal certification solutions and engineering support for a variety of client projects and needs, while competing with off-shore and near-shore companies in both time and cost.
Their facility includes 72,000 square feet of engineering space with more than 15,000 square feet of secure Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs) compliant with both DCID 6/9 and JAFAN 6/9, which are security standards for commercial or government use up to Top Secret level — an important component in working with proprietary and premarket products.
CERTON’s entry into the medical arena began with the design and fabrication of complete turnkey Automated Test Systems (ATS) for use in the medical device and life science industries. CERTON’s ATS is currently being used by a major medical OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) production staff to test sophisticated Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) devices at various stages of production. Their experienced engineers are able to perform independent reviews to support FDA/CE Mark submissions. This is especially vital for companies who have limited personnel and are not able to provide the necessary level of independence.
“CERTON was founded to provide expert engineering services under a business model that promotes efficiency and accountability. Our extensive aerospace systems, software, and electronic hardware expertise enables us to offer the same level of commitment to the medical device and life science industry. Aerospace product certification guidelines align relatively close with the regulatory guidelines and standards that apply to medical devices,” said Victor DiGiovine, director of marketing for CERTON.
According to company leadership, CERTON has revolutionized the industry by providing tools and automation to drive down cost and eliminate errors in safety-critical software and hardware systems. The company plans to take these tools and intellectual property that have been used successfully for the last eight years and leverage them as a competitive advantage. This will include licensing these tools to customers for increased high margin revenues, along with maintenance, support, and engineering services to complement it for massive growth and expansion.
“The goal is to exceed $100 million in revenue in less than five years, creating job opportunities in the safety-critical engineering field in Brevard County,” said DiGiovine.
“We are very fortunate to be located in this area. With companies like Rockwell Collins, GE, Embraer and Harris right in our backyard, local exposure is a requirement, not an option. The Space Coast has evolved into a thriving hub zone for aviation and with certification authorities like the FAA, EASA and FDA setting more stringent regulations, CERTON looks to strategically position ourselves as the go-to provider for verification and validation of complex software and hardware systems.”
Training and Education
According to Timothy Stockton, president and CEO, education is key—and the company is committed to training up the next generation of engineers.
“CERTON intends to work with educational institutions at several levels to create course curriculums focused on safety-critical engineering applications that incorporate the tools and technology we’ve developed. This will make graduating engineers more valuable to themselves, the companies that hire them, and the people who use the products in everyday life,” he said.
One of these is Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), which has pioneered the CERTON International Innovation Center (CIIC) on the FIT campus in Melbourne. This collaboration has evolved into a very successful venture for all involved, providing students with paid internship opportunities. The new program allows students to work on CERTON internal research and development projects and real world safety-critical projects to see how the fundamentals of computer science and electrical engineering apply to the aerospace, medical, and transportation industries.
CERTON also offers an open environment that allows employees to work together to guide a project along, giving them the opportunity to see an idea become reality. Principal engineers collaborate and work alongside junior engineers to create innovative products and solutions that apply to the safety-critical product certification industry. CERTON encourages growth and development through its internal trainings in what they dub CERTON University and also through CIIC at Florida Institute of Technology.
CERTON is currently ramping up sales and marketing efforts to launch and license their internally developed tools and test environments, CertSAFE™ and CertBENCH™. These unique products combine to provide a complete life cycle development, validation and verification solution to design, simulate, and test embedded software and hardware systems.
“CertSAFE™ bridges the gap between system and software engineers by supporting collaborative requirements capture in text and model form with real-time simulation and visibility for immediate validation of intended functions and detailed design. This early error detection means drastically reduced cost and schedule risks along with rapid regression change impacts and getting the safest products to market. CertSAFE™ allows navigation of all interconnections and logic within simple and complex systems to support meaningful end-to-end test scenarios with detailed coverage of the internal design. The simulation test vectors are reusable and export directly to formats that are easily customized to COTS test tools and CertBENCH™ for fully automated black box and white box test execution and results analysis on the target hardware,” said Stockton.
“CertSAFE™ has many advantages and will deliver incredible value to the model-based engineering world,” said DiGiovine.