In the early 1990s, three University of Colorado professors—James Kelly, Manuel Laguna and Fred Glover—were blending their diverse backgrounds and expertise in mathematics, engineering and artificial intelligence to pioneer the development of new methods for complex optimization models.
At this same time, the simulation and consulting firm Decisioneering (which later became part of the software conglomerate, Oracle) faced the challenge of solving optimization problems with goals and constraints that were too complex to be expressed in classical mathematical programming formulations. A key element of many of these problems was the presence of uncertainty, which often arose in forecasting critical elements (e.g., supplies, demands, costs, turnover, etc.) of various real-world applications.
Although a few academics and practitioners had noted the importance of solving optimization problems by simulating real-world systems, no practical methods or computer software existed that could handle such problems.
In search of a solution, Decisioneering learned of Kelly, Laguna and Glover—and the cutting-edge work they were doing in the field of optimization—and reached out to them.
Kelly, Laguna and Glover immediately recognized the vital importance of the problem Decisioneering presented to them. If a method could be developed to optimize problems modeled by simulation, it would open the door to an enormous range of real-world applications that had long been considered inaccessible.
Simulation was ideal for handling conditions in a host of areas including production, distribution, portfolio analysis, financial planning, energy systems, health care, workforce planning, environmental analysis, engineering design, and power transmission, among others.
Profiting from their experiences in industry and consulting, Kelly, Laguna and Glover realized that “simulation optimization” and companies like Decisioneering were ripe to benefit from innovations the three had introduced in the field of metaheuristics—specifically, the sophisticated problem-solving methods they had developed to replace traditional problem-solving methods that had proven to be inefficient and inadequate.
This was the birth of OptTek Systems, Inc. and the OptQuest optimization system, the company’s first core software technology. The first version of OptQuest was developed with the assistance of Dr. Rafa Martí, Professor at the University of Valencia, Spain, who continues to collaborate with OptTek on selected research and consulting projects.
In the years since the product launch in 1996, OptTek has continually refined OptQuest while developing a wide array of partnerships with simulation software providers. Today, OptQuest is recognized as the worldwide leader in simulation optimization and is utilized as the optimization solution of choice by some 20 simulation software providers.
Concurrent with the growth of OptQuest, OptTek began exploring new ways to expand the range of its applications. OptTek’s first large project in a new sector, the government space, came in 2003 with the U.S. Strategic Command’s Integrated Strategic Planning and Analysis Network (ISPAN) Program. OptTek was selected as a member of a team led by Lockheed Martin that was awarded a 10-year, $213 million contract by the U.S. Strategic Command to remodel and enhance their mission planning and execution systems. OptTek’s role was for design and delivery of all optimization capabilities as related to this project.
Since its entry into the government sector, OptTek’s Government Solutions business unit has become a recognized leader for providing optimization and other custom solutions to numerous branches of the Department of Defense and related entities.
While working with the U.S. Navy Personnel Office around 2004 and 2005, OptTek recognized the need for more systematic and optimized decision-making in the area of workforce planning.
With the help of an NSF grant, the OptTek team leveraged its knowledge of simulation optimization to develop OptForce, a state-of-the-art workforce planning solution. Launched in 2005, OptForce uses patented agent-based simulation and optimization modeling technology and highly sophisticated predictive analytics techniques to produce actionable workforce intelligence. Demand for this offering has been growing steadily, with OptForce currently in use by organizations that conduct planning for workforces in excess of 750,000 employees.
The leading supplier of optimization software to the simulation industry. A trusted solutions provider to the government sector. The owner of the landmark OptForce technology for workforce planning. Despite these world-class accomplishments and many more, OptTek remains a small and tightly knit organization run out of its headquarters on 2241 17th Street in Boulder, Colorado.