The next Inside Diamond open day will feature stalls and activities, a short introduction to Diamond and a tour of the machine. We expect the visit will last around two and a half hours. Booking for open days opens 6-8 weeks in advance of the event. Click here for more details.
What’s your professional background and how did you come to work at Diamond?
My background started with an apprenticeship which I did at a place called Hydraulics Research Station at Crowmarsh in Wallingford (it later became known as HR Wallingford). I spent four years learning to be an engineering technician, going to college to gain my City & Guilds. Once I had finished my training, I decided to go and work at Oxford Instruments where one of my friends went. My first years there were spent learning to assemble things and machine the equipment we made, before going on to build Dilution refrigerators and test them before they were commissioned. This took me to Rutherford Labs more than a few times, and on to installing them in places like KFK in Germany, Cern, The High Energy Labs in Tokyo, and the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, as well as a few places in the USA.
What do you do here and how does your experience help?
I moved on within the company to work on cryomagnetic systems, building the inserts and support systems for magnets, where I learned how to wire them up, cool the magnets down, and test them. This lead to more installations in a number of different places. I spent 31 years at Oxford Instruments, ending up working as a Magnet Test Engineer on the 900mhz NMR systems. By then I felt it was time to move on, which led me to Diamond as a Vacuum Technician. The 31 years I had spent working on vacuum systems had served me in good stead.
When I started, I thought I would be working in the Vacuum Lab, building the vacuum strings which would be going into making the storage ring. Instead, I have a much more varied role working across the synchrotron site, where I can be seen walking round checking up on the vacuum equipment that had been delivered and the built up girders that were installed in the ring. My background working with vacuum was invaluable in joining all the girders in the storage ring together, and I was able to play a key role in the assembly of the pumping stations installed around the ring. I also bring my skills to bare in the maintenance of the 30 odd pumping carts we use, along with ensuring the leak detectors used in the building are kept running and serviced.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Diamond?
I always seem to be doing something different, be it changing a pump of a cart or assembling a vacuum vessel, the work I do along with the people I work with make going to work something to look forward to.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in your field?
I'd recommend getting a good apprenticeship to develop both a mechanical aptitude, and a strong interest in the field. I think it's really important to enjoy what you do - I have only ever had three jobs since I left school at 16, and I have enjoyed every one of them!
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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