Having experienced the bleak reality of working with underfunded Formula 1 teams, Kia Cammaerts turned an engineering passion project into a full-time career and today services some of the world's biggest manufacturers with industry-leading simulation hardware. He explains how he did it and shares advice for aspiring engineers.
From a little-understood niche, the significance of simulation to the motorsport industry has grown to the point that it has become essential in understanding and improving car performance. As the co-founder and technical director of Norfolk-based advanced simulation systems company Kia Cammaerts puts it, “you wouldn’t dream of doing anything without first simulating it at some level”.
But in his early days of working in Formula 1 with Lotus, data acquisition and analysis was “relatively primitive” and commercial codes weren’t available. As Cammaerts puts it, “if you wanted to simulate something, you pretty much had to write the code yourself.” So that’s exactly what he did.
Cammaerts’ love affair with engineering began in the late 80s, working at sportscar constructor Tiga alongside his studies for a postgraduate diploma in industrial design engineering at Imperial College London. He firmly recalls having an “epiphany” that his calling was in motorsport upon seeing a Jaguar XJR8 blow past him on the pitwall at Brands Hatch, and duly set about making it happen.
“I like all aspects of engineering, so as I’ve stumbled from one domain to another, I’ve just tried to collect as much knowledge and keep my interest up as much as I can, and I think that’s a very good approach to recommend to anybody.”
This certainly proved useful in the early days of Ansible Motion. As one of only two employees when it started out in 2009, together with his business partner, Cammaerts was initially working across everything with the broad remit required by his title of technical director. Although his “day-to-day involvement in the detailed engineering has reduced” as the business has grown, he still has a key role “in looking at the overall system’s performance and trying to envision what the future will look like and steering the company’s engineering activities towards that future”.
Now his primary role is as a supplier of technology that allows teams and manufacturers to do their jobs better, he believes “will occupy me for the foreseeable future”.
Ansible Motion Limited is based on Chapman Way, a stone’s throw from the current Group Lotus HQ that houses the Hethel test track where legendary Team Lotus boss Colin Chapman gave his innovative creations their first run outs.