Ing. Jan Špatka, Ph.D.
Division Director at Strojírna Litvínov
Jan Špatka wrote his doctoral thesis on hydraulic mathematical modelling at the Czech Technical University of Prague, after he had already obtained the engineering degree in water management and construction from the same university.
Water remained the constant in the early part of his professional career, until he went to work for Strojírna Litvínov and changed his focus to another fluid element: the air. As the first Divisional Director for wind tunnels at the Czech company, a pioneering spirit was definitely called for. “It was a crazy idea,” says Jan about the early days, “but we had very limited competition in Europe; there was a huge opportunity to tread on virgin territory.”
Under his lead the company completed the first prototype adjacent to a shopping mall in Prague. It opened in 2011, became an instant success and brought in heaps of new investors.
Eight years later, Jan is able to take credit for 17 completed tunnels in 12 countries - plus another five scheduled to be opened over the next few months. “We work on between five and six wind tunnel projects each year,” he adds, “we do everything in-house, including research, design and complete production of the technology and supporting steel structure.”
Jan expects the production of wind tunnels to continue to be the mainstay of Strojírna Litvínov’s business for at least the next five years. It currently accounts for 15% of the company’s revenues. But just to be on the safe side, he is already looking at another project: one involving microbreweries. He is convinced that the current peak in the consumption of artisanal beers could easily make for another excellent market.
“It is quite a departure from what we are currently doing,” says Jan, “but so were wind tunnels when we first started.” And the constant in Jan’s professional career would remain: beer is "flowing" too!