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Camgian seizes on opportunity

Pearl native founded company that designs wireless sensor systems that drive down power consumption

Model of Camgian's new headquarters

Model of Camgian

When the San Jose, Calif.-based Cypress Semiconductor Company announced its intention to close its Starkville design center, the founder of a Starkville-based company saw a great opportunity.

Camgian Microsystems, a company that designs and develops low-cost, low-power wireless sensor systems for the federal government and private businesses, was founded by Gary Butler.

A native of Pearl, Butler received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans. He completed his master’s degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and his doctorate degree at Cambridge University in England.

Gary Butler

Gary Butler

Following his education, he worked in Washington, D.C., but Butler said he always had a desire to return to Mississippi, and in 2006, he founded Camgian in Starkville.

Camgian designs wireless sensor systems that “drive down power consumption while maintaining the performance of the device,” for the military through its contracts with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Butler said.

The company also has developed sensor systems that can track the security of shipments.

Other technology created by Camgian can be embedded on bridges, roadways or transportation systems to be maintained and controlled remotely.

“We want to be the Sysco of this type of network architecture,” Butler said.

The February acquisition of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation’s Starkville design center and the company’s subsequent expansion both work toward that end.

“Late in 2008, I talked to the director of the Cypress site in Mississippi. They were planning to consolidate their design centers, and part of their plan for consolidation and cost-cutting was to close the Starkville facility,” Butler said. “At the time, we had started growing. We had some new government contracts and the capacity for engineers with the skills set the Cypress team had.”

After meetings with a Cypress vice president, who happened to be a Mississippi State alumnus, the two sketched out a plan and made it work, Butler said.

“These were employees with families, kids in school here,” Butler said. “This was going to be a significant blow to the local economy. At the time, the average salary of those employees was well over $100,000, so losing that was going to be significant.”

Camgian was able to keep 15 Cypress employees through the help of Mississippi Development Authority and Cypress officials.

The company then relocated into Cypress’ former facility in the Thad Cochran Research and Technology Park.

“It was a nice win-win situation,” Butler said. “We were able to keep the resources and capabilities within the State of Mississippi, and it allows us to grow. It all worked out for the best.”

The company now employs approximately 28 workers, with 25 of those employees being engineers.

“We’re expanding in headcount, expanding in revenue and expanding the size of our facility,” he said.

Camgian plans to move into a new, 10,000-square-foot facility in the new building being constructed at the research park. The company will occupy the third floor, where its headquarters and the microelectronic division of the company will be located.

“It’s a nice facility, and we’re really proud of that,” he said.

By LAURA SMITH I Contributor
laurahoughsmith@gmail.com

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