Angie May: Breaking through barriers

local engineer who came to Columbus to work at Cummins Inc. is now leading innovation through two Columbus companies dedicated to cutting-edge research and design.

Angie May, president of Analytical Engineering Inc. and Data Cave, had worked at Cummins for 10 years before she and her husband David decided to venture into research and development for other companies and into the fledgling indus- try of providing impenetrable security for companies’ data.

May smiles when recounting moving to Columbus in 1987, when she was 22, and the years she and her husband have spent raising a family and growing their companies.

The couple’s first steps before founding Analytical Engineering were developing an underwater communication system for the U.S. Navy. And while that was successful, May said the couple decided to leave the scuba industry and move into a core business involving engine testing and the analyzer technology being created to do that testing.

The desire to innovate was the crux of founding Analytical Engineering, and the couple capitalized on each other’s strengths to move forward — David as the innovator and Angie as the logical, process-oriented engineer. They began turning companies’ ideas into prototypes, and the company is continuing in growth mode, she said.

“With AEI, we’ve been able to work collaboratively with customers and get their products to the next stage,” she said.

Calling the process “innovation in action,” May said the company takes a goal and puts a prototype together to meet that stated goal.

It combines a lot of technical areas, she said.

Data Cave, which is located next to AEI in a secured complex on Columbus’ east side, came out of an idea from an employee about companies having a secure place to have their servers and computer data that would be protected from any sort of disaster and serve as a redundant backup and connectivity guarantee.

The 86,000-square-foot center was constructed and designed from scratch for data storage and security. The building, made of oversized concrete blocks, is designed to withstand a hit of an EF-5 tornado or 200 mph winds or higher.

The idea for Data Cave began around 2008, when the massive flood damaged homes and businesses throughout Columbus. The facility is located outside of a flood plain and surrounded by a moat to divert water if flooding would occur.

The two companies have about 50 employees.

Describing Columbus as supportive for businesses, and in particular of AEI and Data Cave, May also described Columbus as the place she wanted to raise her family.

Graduating from Tri-State University in 1987 with an engineering degree, May acknowledges there weren’t many female engineers in the business world when she began working at Cummins.

Describing herself as an introvert, May said she pushes herself to be more comfortable with the social side of business while at the same time saying she’s much more comfortable with numbers and spreadsheets.

The secret to overcoming being an introvert and entering a male-dominated field is competence, she said.

“You have to do the research well and have your facts together,” she said. “You have to deliver on what you said you would. The way to earn respect isn’t in what you say, it’s in what you do.”

In the Columbus community, May has been an advocate for recycling, at one point speaking before the Columbus City Council to support efforts to create a curbside recycling program.

She is also an advocate for helping students find a way to college, saying she and her husband struggled financially to make it through college, and now she focuses on helping others facing those same difficulties.

And she promotes science, technology, engineering and math education, saying STEM opens so many doors for different types of careers.

Science and engineering will teach students about logic and how to think, she said, describing those skills as critical to success.

May has served on a committee with Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. about STEM education and has been part of the Community Education Coalition board.

Thinking about her remarks for the leadership event, May said while the two companies are in growth mode and successful, there have been some failures along the way, which is part of the innovation process.

“We’ve really tried to attract people who come to work with aptitude, but even more so, the right attitude,” she said. “We can’t achieve if people come in saying ‘I can’t do this,’” she said. “We want people who are excited to create something that’s not been done before and the mentality to make things happen.”

About Angie May

Engineer Angie May, 51, Columbus, is president of Analytical Engineering Inc. and Data Cave.

She graduated from Tri-State University in 1987 and earned her master’s degree from Purdue University in 1993.

She worked for Cummins, Inc. for about 10 years before founding AEI and Data Cave with her husband David.

She has been an active advocate for community recycling and serves on committees promoting STEM education within Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. and the Community Education Coalition.

She and her husband have two daughters, Katrina, 18, and Cassidy, 14.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.