Career profiles

Career profile - Engineer/Project Manager

“There is
a great atmosphere and team spirit as everyone focuses on a common goal.”


Degree/Background

Masters in Engineering from Cambridge University followed by a CCFE-sponsored PhD in thermal hydraulics from Cranfield University.

What was your career path and how did you come to work at CCFE?

Between school and university, I took a year out to work at the UK Atomic Energy Authority for eight months, as well as doing some basketball coaching in the USA. Whilst at university, I then did a further two placements during the summer vacations. I really enjoyed my various placements at Culham and made contacts that eventually led to a permanent post when I finished university.

I spent my early years as a designer on the MAST and JET Neutral Beam heating systems. This led into a project management role to deliver the detailed designs of some key ITER Neutral Beam components. During that time, I was promoted to head of the Design and Evaluation group. More recently, I was appointed to lead the MAST Upgrade project and am currently acting head of the Engineering Design Unit which also incorporates the CCFE Design Office.

What is your current role?

My current role is split between managing the Engineering Design Unit and leading the upgrade of the MAST machine.

As head of the Engineering Design Unit, I'm responsible for ensuring the mechanical design and analysis resource requirements are met for the various technical projects that CCFE is involved in. These include maintenance and upgrade programmes for MAST and JET, contributions to the design of ITER as well as key technology projects including preliminary power plant studies.

As leader of the MAST Upgrade project, I manage a large team of physicists, engineers and other project personnel to deliver the first phase of an upgrade programme aimed at positioning MAST-U as one of the premier fusion research facilities over the next decade.

Why do you enjoy working in fusion research?

As an engineer working in fusion research, there is a huge variety of engineering challenges you have to face on a day-to-day basis: from the very hot to the very cold, working with large structures (such as 50T vessels, cranes, concrete bioshields) as well as high precision mechanical assemblies, high voltage power supplies and many others. You're frequently given responsibility for some cutting edge technology and you never stop learning.

What do you like about working at CCFE?

There is a great atmosphere and team spirit as everyone focuses on a common goal. You get to work with some of the brightest people around. As a designer (or manager of team of designers), its also incredibly satisfying seeing something you dreamt up in your head going onto the computer screen then being built right in front of you.

How does CCFE encourage career development?

Ever since I was taken on by the organisation, I have found all my managers have consistently reminded me about the importance of developing my career. There is a good “development culture” across the organisation and it is emphasised that you “own” your personal development plan and should continuously be thinking about which direction you want to go and what training is needed to get you there (both on-the-job and courses).