I am lucky enough to enjoy my job but, occasionally, a project comes along that is incredibly enjoyable. Eighteen months ago we were contacted by an ex customer that we had not seen for about 20 years. He is based at the University of Birmingham, where I spent 6 months in 1993 working on a 4-poster vehicle test rig learning how to use a new, exciting, piece of software.
The company I worked for at the time, Kelsey Instruments, had just started a cooperation with Professor Anton Raath from the University of Pretoria to develop and market his Simulation Software. Professor Raath had developed a unique solution to a testing problem which would provide Kelsey with a great product.
In 1993 I had decided to look for another job. I had been at Kelsey for three years which was the longest I had been in a job. I was in my early thirties and I decided it was time for a change. I got offered a job by a dynamic electronics form based on the Loughborough University campus and working in the field of mobile phone technology. I handed in my notice and within 10 minutes was called into the Managing Directors office.
David Smith was not a happy man that day. He didn’t want me to leave. I should have known that my leaving would have put the company in a difficult position as I was the only software engineer familiar with the embedded software in the latest product, the K7500. But, I also had other skills of interest to the company. I have a Masters in control theory and an engineering mathematics background. At the time, unbeknown to me, Kelsey had just signed the agreement with Professor Raath and David had me in mind for handling the new software.
I walked out of the room having agreed to withdraw my resignation letter and with a hefty pay rise. Added to that, I was now responsible for the new product. At that time there was no new name agreed for the product, so I was working on TiM, the Time Identification Module.
The next 3 years were incredible. I was immersing myself in Control Theory and black box modelling. I presented papers and submitted articles, along with Dr Frank Sherratt of Warwick University, to several technical publications.
Also, we completely rewrote the user interface for the product. Then I went to Birmingham University to test the technology on a real rig. So, overall, it was a major project.
Eventually, we launched the product, QanTiM, with an event at Birmingham University. I remember meeting the engineers from the Williams and Maclaren formula 1 teams. At the time, Williams were the dominant force in Formula 1 so it was very exciting.
Then Kelsey launched the product in the USA and I had a 10 day trip to Detroit with several Kelsey salesmen, the managing director, Professor Raath and his technical specialist Waldo Von Fintel. We had an incredible time and managed to drink a bar dry of Samuel Brown beer.
As part of this project, I made several trips to the USA, mainly to Detroit but also Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Seattle. I also went to Sweden, Germany and Italy as well as a trip to South Africa. This one project has had an incredible effect on my life. Far more than the generous pay rise, although that was welcome.
Now, I am a director at CaTs3 Ltd, along with Dr Anton Raath, who is a long-time friend as well as a colleague. We are still selling QanTiM and that was the reason for the contact from Birmingham University but that project is a whole new topic. Perhaps for the next article.