Sturman runs company with California roots

Carol-Sturman-1Sturman Industries began in Southern California and moved to Woodland Park in 1995. The company specializes in digital valves, some of which helped bring the Apollo 13 astronauts home. Carol Sturman was working in real estate when she met Eddie Sturman. They started the company in 1989 and married soon after. She now serves as president and chairman of the board.

Tell us about Sturman Industries.

Eddie Sturman and I founded the company 25 years ago based on advanced “digital” motion and flow control technology Eddie invented for the Apollo program to modernize mechanical equipment operation. It parallels the conversion from analog to digital controls that modernized electronics and communications, where equipment became smaller, smarter, faster, flexible and much more efficient. We knew our digital micro-valves could facilitate preventing emissions formation, greatly reduce energy consumption, and help facilitate the use of alternative fuels and energy to benefit the environment and economy.

 Who are your clients? 

Over the years we have had clients from a variety of industries and countries around the world. They range from engine and vehicle manufacturers, research institutes, universities, valve component suppliers, medical equipment companies, makers of automated equipment, dispensing equipment and assembly machines, irrigation systems, to producers of suspension systems. Wherever there is a system that includes motion or flow control, we can apply our technology to modernize the system intelligence, function and efficiency. Sturman recently licensed a valve for large-scale commercial production for use in suspension. We’re also in a new program targeting industrial valve commercial production and sales.

We have a state-of-the-art, 60,000-square-foot headquarters at Sturman’s 450-acre Innovation Park campus in Woodland Park. … The California Energy Commission recognized Sturman technology as an enabler for carbon dioxide reduction and efficient alternative fuel use. Our combustion management system is now being incorporated by us into power generation modules for the efficient generation of electricity. Interested parties have been contacting Sturman regarding possible use in other applications and data centers to communities, neighborhoods and countries. 

Do you do any business with Utilities?

Colorado Springs Utilities and Sturman brainstormed together in the past regarding affordable, practical options related to the future of the Drake Power Plant. I recently addressed the Colorado Springs Council members responsible for CSU and invited them for a briefing on what we have learned about the issues and opportunities related to stationary power generation systems. There is potential for more efficient power generation that can be implemented in phases, be more affordable, fuel-flexible and facilitate CO2 reduction and alternative energy into the future, require no water and need little after-treatment.

Eddie’s digital control technology … was credited with helping save Apollo 13.”

What role did the business play in the Apollo 13 mission?

Eddie led an advanced research and development group within an engineering company that was on contract to NASA when President Kennedy said we were going to go to the moon. Eddie was asked to figure out how the Apollo rockets and thrusters could be controlled using less energy than conventional controls, and be smaller and lighter.

At that time, digital electronics were not in production, but were being promoted in some circles as a technology that could be useful in the future.

Eddie studied the concept and innovated the adoption of a similar strategy for control of propulsion and thrusters for Apollo — using energy only to change from one state to another. Eddie’s digital control technology saved significant energy use in the Apollo craft, and it was credited with helping save Apollo 13. In 2003 Sturman Industries and Eddie were inducted into NASA’s Hall of Fame for taking the technology he invented for the Apollo program and optimizing it for commercial use.

What activities are you involved with in the community?

We have been engaged with the educational community, from grade school through our universities for tours and speaking. We advocate the sciences, engineering and innovation. Our team members regularly judge science contests in local schools, as well as teach from time to time. Eddie and I are on the Purdue Engineering Advisory Board, and I formerly chaired the Denver University Engineering Advisory Board.

We have also fostered the arts as well. I was a co-founder and board member of the Colorado World Theatre Festival, and we host the Hausmusik string quartet in front of the fireplace at our wood, glass and stone Sturman headquarters building, which has been held annually for the last 10 years. And our team members formed a community outreach program that raises funds from Sturman team members at our internal social events, and then funds selected community nonprofit programs and/or schoolchildren’s needs in the community annually. nCSBJ