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New CFD Research lab ‘to explore possibilities not allowed in the conventional world’

HUNTSVILLE — Early last summer, I was at the groundbreaking ceremony at CFD Research for the company’s 13,265 square-foot laboratory off Moquin Drive in Cummings Research Park. I noticed a man and woman on the front row smiling from ear to ear, clearly proud of what they were witnessing that day.

When the ceremony started, Sameer Singhal, CEO of CFD Research, introduced his parents Dr. Ashok and Sangeeta Singhal.

(256 Today)

I was covering the event for an entrepreneurial story and as Sameer told how his father, Dr. Singhal started CFD Research in the basement of his home in Huntsville in 1987, I knew his would be a great story.

A few days later, Sameer set up that interview, which turned out to be the last story written about Dr. Singhal. He was hospitalized just 3 weeks later and passed away shortly thereafter.

At an emotional but happy ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday and dedication of the new Dr. Ashok K. Singhal Laboratory at CFD Research, I was struck by Sameer’s opening words.

“I would give anything to have my dad sitting in the front row smiling today, but I do know he is watching from somewhere and I’m very excited to honor him and to carry on the founding principles of CFD Research today and we will continue moving the company forward in his honor,” he said.

The new facility will expand the company’s research and development in biomedicine and energy. It will also provide space to support growth in electronics, virology, and biomechanics.

In an emotional tribute to his father, Sameer read his words from my story. Hearing Dr. Singhal’s words as they were said to me, being read aloud to a large gathering at the ceremony, I was overwhelmed by the moment.

It was truly an honor to have had the opportunity to meet him and talk to him for over an hour about his journey to success. He was funny, passionate, self-deprecating, clearly devoted to his family, and very deliberate in his expectations for the company.

I asked him, “Did you ever expect it (CFD Research) to get this big?”

“Yes, and so much more. We’re not done yet,” he said without hesitation.

As I toured the new laboratory, I understood why Dr. Singhal was smiling so proudly.

The facility is state-of-art with enough space to accommodate testing in 14 of CFD’s specialized areas. It includes a battery lab, 3D bioprinting lab, a virology lab, a high-performance computing lab, a chemistry and microbiology lab.

CFD Research staff presented CEO Sameer Singhal with his original 1987 sign made on a dot matrix printer, framed for his office. (256 Today)

The CFD staff put together a surprise for Sameer as well. They presented him with CFD Research’s first business sign, one Sameer created in the basement in 1987 using a dot matrix printer.

“When I think about Dr. Singhal, I think of the legacy he left behind of taking a young mayor at the time and showing him his shop and teaching me about sucrose, fructose and glucose to power batteries,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle to a round of laughter. “And talk about the technology and how what we did at Redstone Arsenal could match the viral world very easily, and we could do so many things together and take the platform on the Arsenal and turn it into job multipliers.

“When he finished, I said, ‘Wow!’

“This lab gives us more capabilities and more possibilities of turning great things out here in the city of Huntsville. It will not only help just the city of Huntsville, but it helps the state of Alabama and will help the entire nation.”

The Singhal family closed the dedication with a $1 million to fund the UAH College of Engineering with its first endowment chair, the Dr. Ashok K. Singhal Endowed Chair in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

“To solve the problem, you’re saying you have a shot at looking at things objectively and coming up with some ideas,” Dr. Singhal said last year. “Some of them may work, some of them may not work, but you’re here to test them experimentally through computer simulation, and to explore possibilities not allowed in the conventional world.”

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