RISA's founder, Bruce Bates, began his career in 1981, as a structural engineer at Fluor Corporation in Irvine, California. After a year he pursued an opportunity to move into the computer systems department at Fluor, joining a group that developed and supported Fluor’s SAP-IV mainframe structural analysis software.
Around that time a revolution called the IBM-PC was happening in computer technology. In collaboration with the structural engineering group, Bruce worked on a program called PC-Frame, the first computer program of its kind that combined an interactive spreadsheet interface with a matrix-based frame solver. This was quite revolutionary at the time and PC-Frame was very popular with the structural engineers at Fluor. In 1986 Bruce left Fluor and started developing structural analysis software independently, including collaboration with Enercalc on their FastFrame product. In 1987, he founded RISA and subsequently released RISA-2D, a DOS-based two-dimensional analysis and design program.
In marketing RISA-2D, Bruce went door-to-door to structural design firms all over southern California. He personally visited well over 100 firms in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, demonstrating RISA-2D at each office. The software proved to be a success.
Almost immediately, RISA-2D clients began suggesting that Bruce develop a three-dimensional program that matched the intuitiveness of RISA-2D. In 1990, he began development of RISA-3D, a more sophisticated three-dimensional program. RISA-3D was released in 1993 and RISA began to grow quickly. RISA begin hiring other engineers and started adding additional products such as RISAFloor, RISAFoundation and RISAConnection while continuing to expand and improve RISA-3D.
Today RISA-3D is the most widely used structural analysis and design software in the United States and it has been for more than ten years. RISA products are used by thousands of firms in the US and abroad to design buildings, tunnels, roller coasters, petrochemical facilities, soccer stadiums, airports and everything in between.
In 2017, Bruce Bates retired and RISA became part of the Nemetschek Group, joining other companies including SCIA, Bluebeam and SDS/2. Nemetschek is keenly focused on end-to-end engineering solutions, from analysis and design through modeling, to detailing and fabrication. Nemetschek, through its umbrella of best-of-class brands, covers the entire life cycle of buildings – from designing and visualization all the way to the construction process and building management.