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For Innovative Software Engineering, 'Our people are what the company is'

Sunday, 18 September 2011

CORALVILLE -- In 2003, Hass Machlab, a Lebanese-born immigrant who grew up in the Canary Islands in Spain, started Innovative Software Engineering with eight other people in the basement of his house.

In May, that company -- now boasting 28 employees, development contracts around the world and a spinoff division -- moved into a new 11,000-square-foot facility in Coralville. He attributed its growth to his employees.

"Our people are what the company is," Machlab said. "Our engineers are great individuals with great technical skills."

Building the company has been a long road.

Machlab was born in Beirut, Lebanon, but grew up in the Canary Islands. In 1985, he came to the United States to study electrical engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While there, he met his future wife, Ann Marie, and followed her to Iowa City, where she attended medical school at the University of Iowa. The couple wound up staying in the area, and Machlab worked for Small Business Innovative Research, where he won a project award from NASA. He then later worked at Rockwell Collins.

The next company he worked with, Nexiq Technologies, split into different divisions, Machlab said. That led him and eight co-workers to take one of the contracts -- making educational software for McGraw Hill's Breakthrough to Literacy in Coralville -- in 2003 and form Innovative Software Engineering in Machlab's basement.

"We had worked on that project for many years, so we continued that project," he said.

The company grew from there, soon moving into the Technology Innovation Center in the UI Research Park. With the help of staff at the TIC, ISE branched out into strategic planning, program management, system engineering, software development and quality assurance.

The company also went into transportation, and this year, spun off a new division, ISE Fleet Services. The division, partnering with Swedish company Beijer Electronics' American offices in Salt Lake City, will develop software for in-cab computers that will be used in semi-tractor trailers.

"They allow you to comply with (federal transportation) regulations," Machlab said.

Nancy Quellhorst, president and CEO of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, said ISE has been good for the area, providing good-paying jobs and employees who are active in the community, including with the United Way.

"It's a model of the type of business we want to foster in this area and this region," she said.

Written by
Rob Daniel
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Last updated ( Tuesday, 20 September 2011 )

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