Chip designers partake directly in the milking process – an informative interview with our Development Engineer

Development Engineer of Ilmsens, Martin Kmec

Hello Martin, nice you found time for this interview. Please introduce yourself briefly to our readers.

Hi! Yes, I’m also glad we found the time today. The known people say to me Martin, foreign people call me by my full name, Martin Kmec. I was born 512 months ago (status April 2020) – by the way, this is the length of one of the pseudo-noises we are using in our devices. I am married, have one child and I’m living in Ilmenau. 


You are from Slovakia. How long have you lived and worked in Germany and how did it come about?

Yes, I am Slovakian and I live in Germany since 2000. How did it come about? Long story short – I have studied Radio Electronics in Košice and after my Diploma thesis, I had a few beers on a big sea in the east of Slovakia some afternoon in July 2000. When I came home my mum told me that a sir named “Rudolf” called offering me a trainee in Ilmenau. “If it’s necessary, OK, yes…”, I replied and went to bed. This way, I started as a Leonardo trainee in Ilmenau, where I met Jürgen Sachs who is also one founder of Ilmsens and “idea founder”, too. He was working on UWB technology and looking for trainees.

That’s a nice tiny story. And when and how did you meet the other co-founders?

I was working at the Electronic and Measurement Lab of TU Ilmenau, Jürgen being head of our group. There, I met Ralf Herrmann and Kai Schilling. Working all together at UWB technology, we finally needed someone being responsible for the step from research to real business. This is how Hans-Christian Fritsch came into the game. I personally was very happy that he took care about all management tasks and he was glad that he didn’t need to work on the progress of our technology – a convenient win-win situation. 

What are your main tasks and challenges as a Development Engineer of Ilmsens? What do you enjoy most about your job?

On the one hand I am responsible for the hardware structures with the finest pitch – i.e. chip design (simulations, layouts, manage manufacturing it and characterisations) and on the other hand for the roughest pitches found in our Ilmsens hardware and company equipment. This includes wood- and metalworking, drilling, welding and so on. 

For some people, founding a company is a dream, for others a nightmare. Has founding always been your goal and what have been the most formative moments of success?
Yes, that’s true. For me, founding was always my nightmare-dream-goal. A private “success” or let’s say a very happy moment was, when my girlfriend (who became my wife) told me that she will move to Germany giving up a very good job in Bratislava. Her decision made it easier for me to stay in Ilmenau and finally to found Ilmsens with my colleagues. 


What is special about Ilmsens?

Oh, there are several aspects to mention like our innovations, the high level of interdisciplinarity in the topics we are processing and targeting as well as our strong team. Did you for example expect that a chip designer will participate directly in the milking process in a stall? With Ilmsens that’s possible and surprising. Of course, we also work for other exciting industries.

What is particularly important to you in the team or among colleagues?

Most important for me is the ability to listen and to analyse whatever is the current issue, if possible without huge discussions.


You have a family and have a high level of responsibility being one of the Ilmsens founders. How do you best switch off?
… chain saw, angle grinder, table saw, welding machine …


How does your perfect day look like?

My perfect day at work is, when the new integrated circuits have arrived, we can test them and everything works. 


Owl or lark?



In what three words would your best friend describe you?

It’s just two: Mr. Bean.


What did you want to be when you grew up?

I had several dreams for my future position. I wanted to be crane or excavator operator, bulldozer driver or professional car test driver.


Tea or coffee?

Tea (ideally with few drops of CH3CH2OH).

Gummi bears or chocolate?

Chocolate (but ideally bacon).

Beach holiday or city break?

To be honest, I prefer the forest. 


Martin, thank you very much for this interview and your informative answers.

You are very welcome.

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