How CRYOCO Is Empowering the Next Generation

David-John RothCRYOCO is at the forefront of cryogenic education, training and consulting, boasting a 45-year legacy of providing unparalleled expertise. With a focus on fostering technical prowess across various sectors, from aerospace to medical industries, the company has been instrumental in shaping the landscape of cryogenic applications. Led by David-John Roth, a seasoned cryogenic engineer and subject-matter expert at Kennedy Space Center, CRYOCO offers an array of in-person classroom-style courses tailored to meet the diverse needs of industries worldwide. As Cold Facts celebrates up-and-coming scientists and engineers in our “Young Professionals in Cryogenics and Superconductivity” feature, we sit down with David-John Roth to explore the professional development opportunities CRYOCO offers and discuss the opportunities young professionals bring to the industry. 

Could you walk us through the history of CRYOCO from its inception to its current position? What inspired its founder, Dr. Thomas M. Flynn, to establish the company, and how has it evolved?

Dr. Flynn, as with most engineers, wanted to operate a consultancy along with his normal duties at NIST because cryogenics is a specialty engineering discipline. He founded CRYOCO, Inc., in 1955 as a consulting firm. In 1985, when I was in college, he brought me on as an intern and, working together, we wrote a class for AICHe and taught it for two years when we realized there was a greater need for cryogenics training in general that no one in the world was offering. Even today, only a couple of people offer any real, in-depth cryogenics training. We worked together for 28 years, training all over the US and internationally. Dr. Flynn became unable to teach as of 2008, so I took over the duties until I left the company to work at Kennedy Space Center in 2009. Later when Dr. Flynn became un­able to work, I was given full ownership and reincorporated it in 2009 as CRYOCO LLC. Today, I offer classes as the sole offeror of standard and/or custom-written cryogenic training courses. 

With a focus on in-person classroom-style training (though online options are on the horizon), what advantages does CRYOCO see in this approach?

In-person classes give an instructor direct, one-on-one contact with a participant and the opportunity to know a person in depth. You cannot properly gauge the audience with remote learning. Also, fielding questions in remote venues is troublesome, and most people are more apt to not ask questions during class times. Often in these in-person classes, I stay afterward, and we do our best work at those times, including walkdowns to the customer facility.  

CRYOCO has a rich history of involvement in space applications. How has this experience shaped the training courses you offer?

50 percent of CRYOCO's customers are the cutting-edge launch and space application companies of NASA. We have served the space community, in particular NASA, since the very first day of the course offerings. I have taught at eight of the twelve NASA centers in my career. My day job is working on Artemis at Kennedy Space Center, so my experience on large launch systems translates very well to those in the launch business today. I previously worked with orbital and flight hardware, so the ability to write and deliver custom classes for those customers has been very well received to date and expanded my capability in the course offerings with each new course written. 

Could you elaborate on the customization options available for on-site courses and how CRYOCO tailors its training to meet the specific needs of different industries?

I have taught 205 total courses to date. Approximately half of those were custom orbital, hydrogen, aerospace, research grade and facility, as well as general cryogenics courses. With each custom rewrite, I increase my capability to offer expanded and new courses. I have an unlimited and unrivaled library of course materials, photographs and films that I have collected over 45 years that can back up any new course.

Safety is paramount in cryogenic applications. How do you ensure that your training programs effectively address safety concerns and compliance with relevant standards?

All CRYOCO courses include cryogenics safety sections. In fact, safety runs through the classes in almost every aspect: fluids, materials, construction and components. I also include extensive references and explain how the national standards and codes apply to construction and use of components and systems. 

CRYOCO offers courses covering a wide range of cryogenic substances. How do these courses differ in terms of content and target audience?

The customer usually advises me of the audience. It can be a mix of degreed engineers, technical operations or design staff. Typically, a customer will have resources concentrated in one area like a single type of system. For example, liquid nitrogen only is typical. Aerospace or national labs may use a wider variety of cryogenic fluids, so those classes are more intensive and may address mechanical refrigeration as well, plus deep cryogenics at the lowest temperatures. Commercial aerospace companies will be interested in almost all cryogenic fluids, systems and, most especially, propulsion and test type systems. 

What are some of the emerging trends or developments in cryo­genics that young professionals should be aware of?

Because I teach for almost every com­mercial space entity, most national labs, medical and US government entities (US Air Force, Navy, NASA, DoD, and even nuclear), I get to see the newest technological appli­cations, the standard state-of-the-art re­search, even in computer applications, in the normal performance of my courses with customers. Of course, most of my knowledge in those areas is proprietary. I would say to young professionals to choose an area that allows development and piques your interest. Then stay long enough to develop a marketable skillset. Many employers are starving for cryogenic engineering staff with any experience and will hire a two-year engineer, but most are seeking a more experienced professional with five years prior experience. 

What advice would you give to young professionals aspiring to build a career in cryogenics?

My advice to younger engineers is to get some formal training and do fieldwork—design for thermal and mechanical stress (CAESAR II, SINDA and Fluint), the formal analysis tools for cryogenic pipe stress and other systems. With those tools, any young engineer will find ample opportunities for high-end employment almost anywhere these days. My other advice is if their company cannot afford to have an on-site course, or does not have enough employees to justify the expense, CRYOCO offers an annual summer five-day cryogenic engineering and safety course that one or any number of employees can enroll in. It is held once per year in August only. It gives a solid foundation of the entire cryogenic toolset to work in numerous fields from aerospace to national labs. 

As the owner of CRYOCO, what are your primary goals and aspirations for the company's future?

I am the sole instructor still to this day. So, the viability of CRYOCO depends on emerging into online courses in the long run. I have an understudy at present, but I also have a partner forthcoming to capture the online future expansion, mostly out of necessity of my wanting to retire in the next four years.

How does CRYOCO envision drawing more interest in cryogenics from the younger generation, considering the impending need for succession within the industry and the need for more young professionals entering the field?

I mentor and encourage young engineers every day at Kennedy Space Center. The commercial aerospace industry is doing a good job of bringing them in by the dozens as well. Both of those are newsworthy cryogenic engineering opportunities and well-known.

So I think opportunities are there, and we all need to advertise the need and openings so that young engineers can see that a career in cryogenics is available and that there is a need for that specialty. It is true that we need to encourage STEM, and each current cryogenic engineer has many opportunities to encourage young grade school and high school students to be aware of the engineering world as an option for careers. It really does start at the youngest levels, and students who have that interest should be encouraged early.

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