PCA 20th Anniversary celebration

21 May 2009

PCA 20th Anniversary celebration

We are delighted to announce that PCA Engineers has recently celebrated 20 years in business. The milestone was celebrated by a lecture from guest of honour Professor John Denton entitled ‘Evolution of Turbomachinery Design' followed by a dinner at the University of Lincoln, attended by representatives of some of PCA's key clients, and present and former members of PCA and their partners.


Chris Robinson, Professor John Denton, Ed Swain and Peter Came


Managing Director Chris Robinson welcomed the guests and introduced Professor Denton. Three points felt to be important in the success of the business to date were emphasised: PCA takes considerable pride in the quality of its client base which represents the ‘top tier' of manufacturers involved in the turbomachinery market  worldwide; the firm and professional foundation for the business established by Peter Came, Ed Swain and Bill Connor; the business is centred on the technical ability and empirical experience of PCA's directors and staff but the enduring contribution from partners and families was also acknowledged.


PCA has always had the greatest respect for John Denton and it was felt to be a great honour that he had agreed to address the guests. It was ventured that every engineer involved in the aerodynamic design of compressor or turbine blades worldwide would be familiar with Professor Denton's codes. Indeed, the derivatives of those programs remain in everyday use nearly 30 years on at Rolls-Royce, Siemens and many other leading companies worldwide. Professor Denton's technical contribution has been even more widespread through papers, lectures and the supervision of students at the Whittle Laboratory, Cambridge.

Professor Denton's lecture was highly informative, entertaining, and was very well received by the guests. Peter Came proposed a vote of thanks. The lecture slides can be downloaded by following the link below.



The dinner took place in the Atrium of the University of Lincoln.

The first 20 years

In January 1989, the founders of the company – all former senior engineering managers of Napier Turbochargers Limited - began trading in a one-room office in Lincoln, England as Peter Came & Associates. Reflecting the rapid recruitment that took place that year, the name was changed appropriately to PCA Engineers.

PCA's first contract in 1989 was the design of a supersonic turbine to drive a pump in a torpedo-launching device for Weir Pumps, effectively PCA's ‘Launch Customer'. Later in the same year a number of contracts were received from Rolls-Royce, all relating to the design and analysis of transonic fans in support of that Company's rapid advances in high by-pass ratio aero-engines. By 1991 the customer base had broadened considerably, providing both technical challenge and commercial stability, with projects on large turbocharger centrifugal compressors, diesel engines, gas turbine blade structural design, and several large software development projects. It was the latter that initiated a policy of developing in-house software for the design of turbomachinery. This became the cornerstone of a lasting commitment to the development of turbomachinery software which has not only been a key part of PCA's product range, but has contributed significantly to the maintenance of a highly competitive edge in the design of turbines, compressors, fans, pumps, and many other devices.  

In the early nineties CFD for turbomachinery was developing very rapidly indeed and PCA responded to strong leads taken by the Whittle Laboratory in the UK and by Advanced Scientific Computing in Canada (ASC).  An early collaboration with the Whittle Laboratory enabled PCA to be one of the first businesses to apply CFD as a routine tool in the design of centrifugal compressors. Later, in 1995, what was to prove to be an important collaboration with ASC was initiated, when PCA began using the highly successful TASCflow CFD code. The collaboration lives on today, fourteen years later, through several name-changes including AEA Technology, CFX, and now of course ANSYS, Inc., the industry leading developer and supplier of engineering simulation software and technologies, widely used by engineers and designers across a broad spectrum of industries. This has proved to be a highly successful and long-lived partnership.

Twenty years on, PCA is one of the world's leading turbomachinery consultancies, employing highly experienced specialists in virtually every type of high speed turbomachinery, and with customers in eighteen countries producing a vast variety of turbomachinery products. As well as broadening its client base into automotive turbochargers, low speed fans and turbomachinery for medical applications, PCA has become a respected partner as an SME in several high-profile EU-funded projects: VITAL, MOET, NEWAC and most recently FUTURE alongside Volvo Aero, MTU and Liebherr Aerospace.



Photographs by Chris Marsh LBIPP