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A Tribute to Charlie Cutler

A Tribute to Our Colleague and Friend Charlie Cutler

Dr. Charles (Charlie) R. Cutler, a pioneer of advanced process control (APC) and an AspenTech senior consultant from January 1996 - December 1998 passed away in March. Over the course of his impressive career, including his time at AspenTech, he established himself as a widely respected industry leader.

Charlie was a true innovator. The dynamic matrix control (DMC) technology that he developed years ago has created a tremendous amount of value for the entire industry, and he was always thinking about new ways to apply the solutions and fully exploit their potential.

It was when he was working with Shell Oil in the late 1970s that Charlie conceived of and refined model predictive control (MPC), which later became known as DMC throughout the worldwide process industries. He went on to found Dynamic Matrix Control Corp. in June 1984, and the company was acquired by AspenTech in 1996.

Charlie’s approach to dynamic matrix control used a computer and a computerized model of the plant and process to simultaneously adjust all manipulated variables. His DMC method was the first commercially viable, computer-based, multivariable controller that could handle real-world variations in the operation of the plant and numerous types of constraints placed on the process.

In 2000, Charlie was honored with a membership in the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions in inventing, developing and commercializing a new class of APC technology. He is credited by many with creating a new category of jobs in this sector through his innovation and tireless dedication to APC.
At AspenTech, we are very proud of our association with Charlie, and there is no question we benefited enormously from his unrivaled understanding of control technology and customer implementations.
On behalf of AspenTech, I extend to Charlie’s family and friends our sincere and heartfelt sympathies. It was a pleasure to know him, and his spirit of ingenuity will be missed.


Remembrances from those who worked closely with Charlie:

“Charlie was an extraordinary man who had the vision, passion, technical insight and business acumen to create a new approach to process control for the process industries.  Many people, including myself, owe him a debt for creating new opportunities that have formed the basis for our careers. He inspired others through his leadership and personal example.”

- Boyd Gochenour


"Dr. Charles Cutler was an intellectual giant who changed the field of process control forever by co-inventing multivariable predictive control and by founding DMC Corp., which successfully commercialized the technology in the 1990s. But at the same time, he was this wonderful, humble man who always told people to call him 'Charlie.' He was always approachable and happy to answer questions. Charlie Cutler will be missed.”

- Michael Harmse


“Charlie was a leader’s leader, a committed mentor and a friend. He transformed the advanced process control industry, as well as the hundreds of lives he touched. We are eternally grateful for Charlie’s contributions to this world. He will be missed and remembered by generations of APC engineers.”

- Bruce McFarlin


“Charlie grew his business by delivering customer success. At DMC Corp., his instruction to engineers was simple: when you execute a project on site, wherever it is, do not return unless you have made the customer extremely happy. The platform of success which Charlie created has grown into a global, market-leading business inside AspenTech. His customer-oriented philosophy still permeates our ecosystem. Charlie was a giant in our industry. He transformed process automation.”

- Steve Williams

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  • yesterday

    I first met Charlie in 1991 while interviewing to join DMC Corp. He was truly an innovator and established MPC as a commercial success,  He was a true leader, soft spoken but with a commanding presence. I worked my first DMC project with Charlie at the now Motiva Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas.. I had studied the control theory around MPC in grad school but the key to DMC’s success was the practical touches Charlie added in order to make it work in an industrial setting. That and the plant-focused project methodology we all now use was the “secret sauce”.  I am only one of the thousands on APC engineers whose careers were greatly impacted by Charlie whether they knew him or not. Charlie’s impact on chemical engineering and process control cannot be understated. He will truly be missed. Rest In Peace

  • 8 days ago

    Indeed an unfillable void. In this world where we talk about virtual learning, I would have been blessed if I would have had a chance to learn one lesson in APC from Dr. Cutler.

  • 23 days ago

    His technology inventions and company were news and created excitement, from the moment of invention. I first heard about him and dynamic matrix control in 1986 when I went to work at Digital Equipment Corp, which made the computers that his control software ran on. I have always believed that companies buy the people, and specifically for new software the founder, not necessarily the technology. In his case, it was both! I hope he is always remembered as a landmark innovator.