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Man of Distinction

Acclaimed inventor, business founder, and Pitt alumnus John A. Swanson was named to the National Academy of Engineering this spring, among the highest professional distinctions an engineer can receive. The academy provides advisory services to the federal government.

Swanson—also a Pitt trustee—was recognized by the academy for his development of the ANSYS program, a software code that’s used worldwide to predict how product designs will behave in manufacturing and real-work environments. He developed the code after earning his PhD in applied mechanics from Pitt in 1966. To market the program, he founded ANSYS, Inc., in 1970. Since then, the company has grown to 1,400 employees, and it currently distributes products to business partners in more than 40 countries. Swanson served as the company’s president, chief executive officer, and director until his retirement in 1999. He still teaches ANSYS training classes and serves the company as an advisor. Now, through his election to the academy, he may be advising government officials on engineering-related issues.

Two years ago, Pitt renamed its engineering school the John A. Swanson School of Engineering in recognition of the greatest generosity by an individual donor in the University’s history—$43.1 million. To learn more about this outstanding alumnus and trustee who began his working life on a farm, read “The Swanson Code” in the Winter 2008 issue of Pitt Magazine.