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Meet Jake Savstrom

Q.  Tell us about your role at Donaldson Company.

I work in the Computer Aided Engineering group within Corporate Technology, which is responsible for developing our predictive analysis capabilities and the computing infrastructure necessary to support them. Our goal is to connect technologies with application needs throughout the company using predictive modeling software. Developing products with these software packages can help our application teams get a new product to market faster because designs can be tested virtually before a physical part ever exists. We can quickly run through design iterations and optimize performance before we go to the trouble of making prototypes and conducting lab tests. Because these types of analysis are very hungry for computing power, my group also provides a globally accessible high performance computing (HPC) infrastructure to make this work possible.


Q.  You work with some amazing technology. What is the most fascinating part of your job today?

I enjoy building simulations of products and conditions we see in the real world with our analysis software. Whenever possible, we follow this with an analysis validation where the same test is conducted in one of our labs. This helps us learn how accurate our analysis was and develops our analysis skills. We also learn more about the loads or challenges that our products actually see, rather than something that just looks good on a computer screen. This validation step and skill building is a very important part of our work and the most fascinating part of my job. We can generate all kinds of beautiful pictures that appear to show stress levels or fluid streamlines, but if they are inaccurate and only mislead those making product design decisions, then they do not hold any value. 


Q.  Where do you think the next breakthroughs will be in liquid filtration?

I believe that our next innovations will come from seemingly simple repurposing of old or existing technologies in non-obvious ways. I believe the next big thing in filtration is right under our noses, and I want Donaldson to be the first to find it.


Q.  What would it surprise others to know about you?

Five things come to mind:

  • I moonlight as a race car driver.

  • My wife and I built wooden kayaks for each other as wedding presents.

  • I don’t watch any TV.

  • I used to be a tire changer on a NASCAR team.

  • I’ve completed an Ironman triathlon (but it wasn’t pretty).