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Ken Goldstein

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"When no one else understands what you are talking about, that’s where CATI starts"


Where do you go when you have a computer problem that no one can understand? And what can you do if no one will respond when you call? Computer-Aided Technologies International, Inc. (CATI) may have your answers.

The brainchild of Ken and Linda Goldstein was born back in 1978 when the company for which they were both managers lost a major federal contract two days after Christmas. "We went from being conspicuous consumers to being careful with every penny," laughs Linda Goldstein, CATI’s President. "They certainly could have timed things better!"

Rather than looking for 9-5 jobs again, the Goldsteins decided that they were well enough qualified, and knew enough people, to start their own company providing consulting services in computer programming, energy recovery systems, and electronic systems integration. Their first major contract was with the U.S. Department of Energy, working on the same contract that their former employer had lost. "But this time, we knew we had to grow our contacts every minute of every day," says Ken, an engineer with more than 30 years of hands-on experience and four degrees

By 1980, their staff had grown to eight people, with jobs in California, Arizona, Louisiana, and Wyoming. But everything was about to change when Ken accepted an lunch invitation from a few friends in San Francisco who "had something interesting to show me." The lunch turned into another contract to help write a computer graphics program with the interesting name of AutoCAD. "I had started working with mainframe-based computer-aided design, or CAD, back in the mid-60s," reminisces Ken, "and I was the only person on the Autodesk team who even knew what CAD was. As the team’s concept was to create an ‘automated desk’ - an early paradigm of Windows - I was rather surprised when only the ‘etch-a-sketch’ survived our programming and evolved into AutoCAD."

AutoCAD took off at the second COMDEX in 1982, and Ken and Linda became Autodesk’s third dealer. Ken’s engineering background and Linda’s chemistry, physics, and geophysics experience allowed them to provide professional CAD services to major companies like Exxon, Chevron, and Motorola. CATI’s staff quickly ramped up to 22 employees, but the Goldsteins found that they were spending more time on managing people than on providing AutoCAD and computer services. "Linda and I had already done our penances as engineering project managers," says Ken, "and we wanted to get back in the field again."

So in 1991, they relocated their headquarters office from Louisiana to Honolulu, and eventually sold off the Louisiana office completely. By that time, CATI was heavily involved with multimedia, visualization, digital video, and imaging, along with AutoCAD, and these services fit in quite well with the needs of many Hawaii companies. "Although we had quite a few international clients, Hawaii presented a new challenge," states Linda. "As the new kids on the block, CATI had to establish both its credibility as a viable company and to differentiate itself from all the other local technology providers."

Although CATI had been wooed by the Hawaii High Technology Development Corporation to relocate to Hawaii, it was nearly impossible to get help on key needs like office space, qualified employees, and contract work, as the state simply didn’t have the necessary infrastructure. Rather than just complain, Ken and Linda decided that they could personally make a difference by working to help the state establish a true technology infrastructure.

As a member of the Rotary Club of Metropolitan Honolulu, Ken saw a need to help public and private Hawaii schools obtain more technology than the state budget would allow. He started up the Hawaii Computers for Kids Program in 1992, with help from the Chamber of Commerce, Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and the Department of Education. Today, 16 schools around the state participate as repair depots in Ken’s program, with thousands of computer systems donated by local businesses and individuals already distributed to over 135 public and private schools statewide. Metro Rotary has adopted Computers for Kids as its signature project, and its 155 members actively solicit donations of computer hardware and software.

When President Clinton established the GOALS 2000 initiative in 1994, Ken was appointed by then-Governor John Waihee to serve as the technologist on the Hawaii task force. And when many of the GOALS 2000 members throughout the country formed Tech Corps to provide continuing support to educators and students, Ken volunteered again, and currently serves as Tech Corps Hawaii’s state vice president. He also serves as vice-chair on the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce Education Council, which interfaces between the Hawaii Department of Education and the Legislature. CATI is a founding member of the Hawaii Technology Trade Association, established in September 1999.

CATI has been able to find many other ways to give back to the community. Linda uses her engineering and environmental expertise to assist the Air Force with its environmental restoration of Bellows Air Force Station in Waimanalo. She also coordinates with several local neighborhood boards when they need technical support. Ken is an adjunct professor at Chaminade University teaching Management Information Systems to MBA candidates, and also teaches continuing education courses on AutoCAD for the University of Hawaii. And of course Ken writes the High-Tech Times column for On-Line Connection.

CATI is positioned as both a service bureau and a value-added reseller (VAR) of computer hardware, peripherals, and software. "With more than $1 million in specialized equipment and software in-house, CATI can provide a wide range of digital services," states Ken. "We have the capability to scan blueprints up to 36 inches wide, and convert them directly into AutoCAD Release 2000 format. We can then take those 2D data and convert them into a rendered 3D model of a house, office building, or land survey, and then walk you around through the completed building." CATI teams with local professionals like Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo, Architects, where they created an electronic model of the Hawaii Convention Center, two years before it was built.

"We can create 35 mm high-resolution color slides from your PowerPoint presentation," relates Linda, "or sell you a high-resolution video projector that connects right up to your computer, and displays your work on a 300-inch screen. Or we can digitize your video right from your camera, edit it, and send it out as streaming video on your Web page." CATI’s own Web site <> is even more popular since Ken added a QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panorama of the Sand Bar in the middle of Kaneohe Bay. "I get e-mails from people all over the planet who want to come out and visit us," laughs Ken.

There is more to being a VAR than just having hardware and software authorizations. CATI’s staff is both well-trained and continually attends advanced manufacturer training. "We maintain authorizations from major vendors including Compaq, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Everex on the workstation side, and with Adobe, Macromedia, Symantec, Computer Associates, Microsoft, and, of course, Autodesk on the software side," states Linda. "And we spend over $10,000 each year maintaining and upgrading our service authorizations, as well." As an education-authorized VAR, CATI can provide considerable savings on software and hardware for students, teachers, faculty, and educational institutions. These savings are maximized with educational site licenses.

CATI is Autodesk’s Area Education Representative, covering Hawaii and the South Pacific. "We’ve installed over 40 AutoCAD computer systems in a high school and vo-tech school in American Samoa," says Ken, "and provide ongoing support and teaching curricula. The graduates from these schools have more than twice the chance to get good-paying local jobs as students who attend other schools." CATI’s staff has also created a local curriculum called "Technology Through Visual Thinking™" that uses AutoCAD and 3D Studio MAX to create class projects. This curriculum has been approved for use in Central District. CATI provides a statewide site license for Autodesk products for the University of Hawaii and the community college system, with over 2,100 users.

Teaming with Computer Training Academy to hold training in AutoCAD, 3D Studio MAX, advanced PhotoShop, and similar high-end CAD and graphics courses, CATI can provide customized classes for as few as three students. Ken has personally trained over 3,400 students in AutoCAD, including architects, engineers, constructors, and many other professionals. "As I’ve worked in these fields professionally, my students feel right at home because we speak the same language," he says. "And all our staff are professionals, rather than salespeople, because that make our clients feel more secure in our advice to them."

CATI also offers high-quality Web site creation services. "We’ve gotten to create some really beautiful sites," says Nicole Perez, CATI’s Webmistress. "Anne Namba Designs has such gorgeous clothes that I have to be careful not to spend all my paycheck online!" Other local CATI Web clients include Peterson Sign Company, Thomas Deir Studios, Black Widow Hawaii, Rising Wave, and Dolphin Manor. CATI also has mainland clients like California Barbeques Manufacturing which uses CATI’s services because, as Nicole is told every day, "it just doesn’t matter where you’re physically located, as long as you can do quality, professional work."

Tom O’Connor, CATI’s physics and mechanical engineering specialist, enjoys using AutoCAD products not only for clients, but also for his own use. "My wife and I recently designed the ‘house of the future,’ with every energy-saving, labor-saving, and cost-saving feature we could think of," relates Tom. "And as an inventor, I’m constantly coming up with ideas that can quickly be translated into reality using AutoCAD Mechanical Desktop. I calculated the cuts and fills on the sloping property we own in Manoa Valley, generated detailed bills of materials, and did a complete 3D visualization of our house, all in less than 30 days." Tom also works with law enforcement and attorneys to create accident reconstruction scenes, with all the detailed physics and kinematics variables that entails.

Where does CATI see its future work? "I think that we’ll see a lot more 3D-enabled e-commerce on the Internet," prophesizes Ken. "We’re getting calls almost daily asking for help in creating virtual ‘worlds’ that will replace today’s 2D digital storefronts. Think about it: if you had your choice of looking at a site with a still picture of the next car you’ll buy, or another site where you can see the car’s individual components, with paint colors, accessories, and upholstery that you can instantly change, which Web site would you choose, and where would you buy that car? E-commerce is all about communicating with you, the client."

Linda foresees an explosion of "digital appliances" connected via the Web that will change the whole way we live. "Imagine being able to walk up to your refrigerator and asking it what you can make for dinner. It will know what foods you have stored inside, whether they’re fresh enough to cook, and whether it needs to e-mail an order for any other ingredients to make your favorite dish. It can also communicate with your digital oven to preheat 30 minutes before you get home, and send an e-mail to your workaholic spouse to be home on time for dinner tonight! I predict we’ll see these appliances on the market within the next 18 months."

Ken and Tom are also excited about digital TV. "With high-definition TV, we see the immediate convergence of video and computers," states Ken, "with super-clear on-screen images, CD-quality sound, and the ability to view your computer icons on your 60-inch TV screen if you’re a die-hard computer addict." Adds Tom, "If people realized just how fuzzy and low-resolution today’s TVs are, they would be rushing out to buy a new HDTV! Of course, with just KITV-4 on the air with HDTV, your high-definition shows might be fewer than you’d like, but we can expect that NBC, CBS, and other broadcasters will catch up real soon. And Monday Night Football is incredible on HDTV!"

CATI has a wide mix of clients, ranging from the federal and state governments, to medium and large private-sector corporations, to K-12 education, colleges, and universities. "Our versatility is CATI’s strongest asset," says Linda. "We’ve handled jobs as small as $500 and as large as $1,000,000, from the mainland to Hawaii to Irian Jaya, Indonesia. We’ve designed and wired a mission-critical video projection system for the Coast Guard. We’ve worked with architects and interior designers to create and visualize Senator Bob Nakata’s new home. And with Metro Rotary, we’ve helped to upgrade the classroom network and wire the library at Princess Kaiulani Elementary School. There are very few technology projects that we won’t take on."

"Our professional staff is waiting to hear from you," invites Linda. "We promise the best possible service at a reasonable price. CATI speaks your language."