In memoriam- Dr. Garret N. Vanderplaats

In memoriam- Dr. Garret N. Vanderplaats

Here at MSC Software we were saddened by the news recently of the passing of Dr Garret N. Vanderplaats at the age of 77 on 17 November 2021 and we invite you to help us memorialize him by sharing your memories here on LinkedIn. Dr Vanderplaats was a long-term friend and collaborator with MSC Software and a recognized pioneer in developing optimization algorithms and in bringing them into industrial use through commercial software development. Gary was the principal architect of MSC Nastran’s Design Optimization (SOL 200) solution and a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics. He was a mentor to many of our engineers through his long and successful career.

Dr Vanderplaats began his career as a research scientist at NASA, before teaching at the University of California in Santa Barbara and founding his own company, Vanderplaats Research and Development. this company developed MDO and structural optimization methods and was later renamed as OmniQuest.  Gary was loved and cherished by many, including his wife Virginia Vera “Ginny” and his sons, Scott and Greg.  Living in Colorado, Gary was also an outdoor enthusiast and the inventor and patent owner of a collapsible fishing net. More details on his service can be found on this page where you can post your memories of Gary.

Gauge thickness optimization of a sedan cross member. The objective is to minimize the weight while constraining the natural frequencies.

“Every day, somewhere in the world, there is an engineer, a researcher or young student using gradient based optimizers to improve the performance of mechanical systems. Vanderplaats’ original work on gradient based optimizers for engineers would eventually lead to a feature rich set of optimization technologies that many machine learning algorithms are unable to currently rival.”

– Christian Aparicio
Founder of the MSC Nastran SOL 200 Web App and MSCOne partner

Learn more about Dr Vanderplaats’ contributions to MSC Nastran’s Design Optimization capabilities

Image above: MSC Nastran’s Design Optimization is used to optimize BIW for shape, weight and road noise, Courtesy Volvo – MSC Users Conference 2011)


  • Sarah Palfreyman, Marketing Manager Structures
    December 3, 2021

    Dr Vanderplaats, was a pioneer and chief architect of MSC Nastran Design Optimization (SOL 200) & is fondly remembered by our team for his contributions which were both strategic & impactful to industry. We will remember him fondly, keep his family in our best wishes and never be done optimizing!

  • Ted Rose
    December 3, 2021

    I knew and admired Gary – he was a true pioneer of structural optimization. He was one of the most honest and knowledgeable people I knew, which normally would prevent him from succeeding in business, but he was not only a pioneer, but a successful businessman. I have nothing but admiration for Gary and will miss him.

  • Nikolaos Tzannetakis
    December 9, 2021

    The “Optimization Community” (be it “design”, “structural”, “mathematical”) lost one of its pillars with the passing of Dr. Vanderplaats. Many of us that worked in Optimization were taught by and had him like the beacon he was. He will live long through his pioneering and voluminous work.

  • Dennis Nagy
    December 10, 2021

    So sad to learn (via Monica Schnitger’s newsletter) of the recent passing of Gary Vanderplaats. I first met Gary in the late 1980s when I worked at MSC and admired him every since. I echo Ted Rose’s comments. RIP, Gary.

  • Marc Halpern
    December 10, 2021

    I am very sorry to hear of Dr. Gary Vanderplaats passing. I have known Dr. Vanderplaats . He was a pioneer and thought leader in the field of mechanical optimization. His vision extended beyond optimization in engineering practice to changing the way engineers think about design. We will miss him. Personally, he was one of the kindest, humblest, and gracious people I have known in the field

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