Sierra Nevada Corporation’s technology spreading around the world and even to Mars
May 22, 2017
With confidential clients, including defense contracts, Sparks-based Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) keeps a low profile. Even it's name steers away from the attention-grabbing style of many technology companies.
But on Wednesday, May 17, a representative of SNC came out from behind the curtain to give members of Nevada Business Connections (SBC) a glimpse of the highly technical product development and manufacturer that has taken the company to space.
"We've been trying to get SNC here for years," Kris Holt, NBC executive director, said during the organization's breakfast meeting at Great Basin Brewery, while introducing, Patrick Garman, senior vice president, business operations of SNC.
Garman has been with SNC since 2003, after retiring from the U.S. Army's aviation division.
"We haven't been very communicative," he said, noting the company's confidential clients want it that way.
There are some things they can talk about, and they're pretty exciting things.
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Fatih and Eren Ozmen have owned the company since 1994. Both are graduates of the University of Nevada, Reno — Fatih with a master of science in electrical engineering and Eren with master in business administration.
Today, SNC has offices and research centers in 34 locations in 19 states and four countries, employing 3,000 people worldwide.
Its most recognizable project is Dream Chaser, a manned and unmanned space vehicle being designed, developed, and manufactured at SNC's offices in Colorado.
Other products are less obvious, but being used all over the world. They include systems for guidance, jamming, surveillance, sensor sweeps, and communications that are used in war zones, on the International Space Station, and they even helped the Mars Rover land safely.
SNC has $3 billion a year in contracts, Garman said.
"We're focused on niche products," most of which have a low production volume, he said.
"Something is going into space every week, some (SNC) piece or part."
A look at the SNC website shows two dozen areas of focus that include such things as Integrated Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance Solution, Unmanned Systems, Transport Telemedicine Systems, Science Payload & Bio Products, Enhanced Flight Vision Systems and Spacecraft & Satellite Solutions.
Garman ran quickly through some examples of how SNC is making improvements to the world of aeronautics, space, defense, and more.
The way the wounded are evacuated from a warzone is "fundamentally no different than in Korea," Garman said. He described how on-site medics triage a patient, then record the administration of drugs and treatments with markers on the patient's skin. Once the patient reaches a medical facility, those doctors and support staff triage again, losing precious time.
SNC offers a comprehensive solution.
"Something as simple as creating a network where all the medic has to do is talk, communicate back and forth, allows the medical team (at the destination) to already know what meds (have been administered) and the nature of the injuries," Garman said.
SNC also produces a system for low visibility landing conditions, especially "brown-outs" from the wind of a helicopter's rotors as it lands in an unimproved location and kicks up dirt and sand. Visibility can be reduced to zero.
"Pilots are less worried about getting shot at then landing in an unimproved area, especially at night," he said.
Other SNC war-zone advancements can jam signals to detonate improvised explosive devises or make sensor-sweeps of enemy technology that allows users to collect real-time electronic activity.
"If you can see it happening in real rime, you can affect it in real time," Gorman said.
In space, SNC systems help researchers by returning experiments to earth with less gravitational impact, which can degrade the value of an experiment.
"We do an awful lot of things," Gorman said. "It's a fun company."
The next NBC breakfast meeting will be June 21 at Gold Dust West in Carson City. Guest speakers will be Buzz Harris licensed business broker with The Liberty Group, and Dean Haymore, director of community development for Storey County. For more information or to register, go to http://www.nvbizconnect.com/.