Eric VanWerven Joins ABW To Lead New Design Department


We’re very excited to welcome Eric VanWerven to our team to lead our new design department. He brings with him a wealth of experience and technical skill, and he couldn’t be better suited for the role.


Local pride

Eric lives just six miles south of our facilities here in in Arlington, Washington. Although the short commute is definitely a perk, it wasn’t his only motivation for taking the role at ABW.

When asked what drew him to the job, Eric told us, “I joined ABW to work closer to home, to help create more design and manufacturing jobs in Arlington, and to work for a growing company that I believe will become a key player in engineering and design, in addition to its current manufacturing capabilities.”

Invaluable work experience

After graduating college, one of Eric’s first jobs as an engineer was  making various aspects of production tooling for the Bombardier C-Series Wing Assembly Line in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

“Probably my most notable contribution to this line is a pylon boring machine, tool and calibration frame that myself and a colleague designed, had manufactured and eventually installed in Belfast,” Eric explained.

Image by SpaceX via  Wikimedia Commons

Image by SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons

“This machine was interesting because it bored two high tolerance hinge lines and was positioned using two high precision levels and a laser collimator.”

More recently, Eric had the opportunity to contribute his skill and expertise to one of the most buzzed-about spaceflight projects of our time: the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Specially, he designed, had manufactured and installed a large floor-mounted assembly tool used to manufacture the nose/cargo fairings on the SpaceX rockets.

“What was particularly interesting about this project was the jig thermal compensation scheme,” Eric told us. 

“The factory saw large temperature swings throughout the day, so building a carbon fiber part on a static steel jig wasn’t going to work.  In the end we used extremely large, linear rail-mounted invar plates to form the top jig surface, and to make these plates flat before installation, we had to use the world’s largest Blanchard grinder.”

Bringing design in house

Eric’s arrival at ABW coincides with the launch of our new in-house design department. Although our engineers have worked closely with local design firms for years, we’re excited to have brought this essential service in house to better meet our customers’ needs.


Having design, production and quality control under the same roof increases efficiency, reduces costs and encourages innovation, benefits that are passed on to our customers.

Under Eric’s leadership, our design engineers are able to work with our manufacturing and quality control experts on a daily basis. This ongoing communication allows them to identify ways products can be designed or manufactured differently to improve quality and minimize cost.

Our design/build capabilities include sophisticated prototyping, drafting, mechanical design and stress analysis.

Find out more.