Remembering Niels Eilskov Jensen

On 1 January 2020 one of TICRA’s founders, Niels Eilskov Jensen, passed away, at the age of 76. Together with Jesper E. Hansen and Niels Christian Albertsen, Niels founded TICRA in 1971. He will be remembered as a driving force in the establishment of TICRA and a pioneer within the industry. 


The three founders at TICRA’s 25th anniversary: (from left) Niels Eilskov Jensen,
Jesper E. Hansen, and Niels Christian Albertsen.

Niels received his master’s degree from the Laboratory of Electromagnetic Theory (laboratory) at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in 1968. In his thesis Niels investigated the reflection from a group of passive dipoles. The matrix equation was set up and the numerical results were compared to measurements carried out in a radio anechoic box at the laboratory.

After a couple of years in the navy, Niels initiated his PhD study on dipole antennas loaded along the arms of the dipoles.

 

A fascination for the Method of Moments

Alongside Jesper E. Hansen (Jesper) and Niels Christian Albertsen (Christian), Niels Eilskov Jensen (Niels) worked in the laboratory at DTU. In 1970 the laboratory made a feasibility study for the then called ESRO (now European Space Agency, ESA) in which methods for evaluating antennas on a satellite were presented. Lecturers and students at the laboratory at DTU shared a fascination for the Method of Moments and the study comprised this method for structures in size of the wavelength and a ray optical method based on the Geometrical Theory of Diffraction (GTD) for large structures. The Method of Moments was further studied and programmed by Jesper, Christian and Niels who obtained good agreements between the numerical results and measurements carried out on a scaled satellite model. The results were presented at a conference in London in 1971.

The research on Method of Moments lead to requests for determination of the best positioning of antenna booms on the coming European Geostationary Earth Orbit Satellite (GEOS). The requests came from ESRO and the Swedish company SAAB-Scania at the same time. However, the laboratory was not able to take on the same work for two different stakeholders and had to refuse to bid on the study.

 

The beginning of TICRA

Jesper, Niels and Christian met in the hallway at DTU and found that they had an opportunity to demonstrate what their work could be used for. It required a private company, and, in November 1971, Niels established a limited company, PX A/S, with the Register of Public Limited Companies in Denmark.
Immediately after, Christian and Niels wrote an offer to SAAB Scania. To be sure it reached SAAB Scania in due time, they took the ferry from Elsinore in Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden, from where the offer was posted.


Niels E. Jensen.

Finding the right name for the acquired company was difficult for the three pioneers. They tried various names, such as Maxwell and other industry-related names, but they were declined by the register of companies. Finally, Niels came up with the idea to use the letters in the middle of ‘electromagnetic radiation’ to form the name ‘TICRA’.

A general meeting was held in PX A/S on 10 January 1972, where Christian, Jesper and Niels took over the share capital. The name was changed to TICRA A/S and the company’s purpose was technical advice and product development. With Christian as Chairman of the board the three founders were appointed as board members.

Unfortunately, SAAB-Scania did not win the GEOS contract, but TICRA was established already, and soon Niels and Christian won another contract with SAAB-Scania for the European Communication Satellite (ECS).

 

Always looking for opportunities

Throughout TICRA’s first year, Niels worked hard to get research contracts for the company. Simultaneously, he applied for a position in ESRO’s space antennas group at European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. He left TICRA to start at his new position as Antenna Engineer in October 1972. At ESTEC he played a big role in building up the European expertise in Space Antennas in close collaboration with the European industry and research organizations, including TICRA. After 32 years employment at ESA ESTEC, Niels retired as Head of ESA’s Technology Programmes in 2004.

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