Chris Colborne, Senior Electronic Technician, Controls Group.
What/where did you study and what did you do after your studies?
I obtained a B.Eng(hons) in Combined Engineering at Coventry University, focusing primarily on Electrical and Electronic Engineering, with additional modules for Industrial Design and Project Management. I had already been a technician for three years prior to this (which gave me an enormous advantage when I went to university), but the qualification allowed me to jump up another level of expertise. I worked for three different companies as a graduate before joining Diamond, in the fields of access control, miniature dataloggers and industrial gas detection . During this time I gained valuable experience in electronic design, manufacturing, faultfinding and PCB layout, and a thorough appreciation of electromagnetic compatibility and intrinsic safety, all of which have really helped in my current role.
What is your role here, and how does your experience help you do your job?
For the last five years I have been a senior technician for the Controls Group. This is the team which provides the hardware and software for the Control System that ties all the technical systems of Diamond together under the watchful gaze of the Operations Crew in the Control room. I look after hardware from Purchasing and stock management to advising in its correct use, as well as repair and test. In addition I run an electronics workshop and provide practical assistance to anyone who walks in with an electronic hardware issue. With a colleague, I am responsible for repairs and upgrades to the installed fibre-optic communications network for Diamond's accelerators. I assisted in the construction effort in the beginning, and sometimes I still get the chance to scramble around in the machine doing repairs and upgrades.
What do you like about your job?
The incredible diversity of the people here, any of whom might need my assistance at some point, and of the kinds of apparatus I get to play with. It's a really exciting facility with so much going on, with real scientific discoveries being made on a weekly basis. I come into contact with a multitude of different pieces of kit, from the old and mundane to highly advanced and exotic. One minute I'm fixing the laptop of a beamline user who urgently needs to get their data out, another minute it's a new piece of test equipment to be designed and built. Situated as we are on the edge of the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory also means there are opportunities to visit the other world-class facilities here. This is really fantastic for an all-round science and engineering enthusiast! One of the best things about working at a research facility like Diamond is the openness: there are strong international ties which lead to a real feeling of co-operation, rather than competion, with other facilities, and the primary motive is general advancement, rather than individual profit.