Career profiles

Career profile - Mechanical Technician

There's a good variety of learning possibilities – the team is constantly looking at the next stage to develop the equipment.”

Degree/Background

HND in Mechanical/Manufacturing Engineering (Oxford Brookes University)

BSc in Technology Management (Oxford Brookes University)

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

After completing my studies at Oxford Brookes University, I went on to work at Oxford Instruments Superconductivity. This initially involved the assembly of bench top devices for use in the spectroscopy field. Some years on, I moved onto the testing and preparing these products for shipment to the customers.

While looking for a new challenge, I became aware of a Technician post within the MAST Neutral Beam team at CCFE. Before this point I didn't really have a good idea of the activities on the site.

What is your current role?

The core of my role requires that I operate the Neutral Beam system as part of the MAST Experimental programme. Along with operations, I assist with the maintenance of the beamlines (mainly responsible for vacuum, cooling, gas injection system and PLC control network) in order that Neutral Beams are available for use throughout the campaigns. JET Neutral Beam operations are also part of my schedule.

Essentially, I am employed as a Mechanical Technician but an important part of my job is to maintain and administer the MAST NBI PLC control network. At other times, I may be seen troubleshooting the NBI PASS safety system or assisting with the calibration of set point optical links to the NB power supplies areas.

During the current MAST shutdown, I have been heavily involved in managing the “strip down” of the MAST Beamlines. So far, the project has included removing all instrument cabling, cooling/vacuum services, to the point of removing all internal components and lifting away the vacuum tanks from their support frame.

Why do you enjoy working in fusion research?

Although the end goal of the research is a little way off, it is satisfying to know that we will hopefully have contributed to the lives of future generations in order that their energy concerns may be alleviated to some degree.

Also, I think the Neutral Beam system on MAST presently offers a good variety of learning possibilities. With the interaction among the current team members, we all gain a good overview of the system integration.

Describe your experience of working at CCFE.

My experience at CCFE so far has been very positive and I am now lucky enough to be working within a like-minded team which is constantly looking at the next stage to develop the equipment. I also appreciate the encouragement from my managers who allow us to explore the uses of current technology with the view to continuously improve the operation and efficiency of our systems.

What do you like about working at CCFE?

I welcome the autonomy to manage and complete certain tasks which I think increases the “can do” work ethic and keeps me motivated.

It is also positive when the team comes together with different aspects of a project to hit the final target.

How does CCFE encourage career development?

CCFE assists in my development by allowing me to attend relevant courses and has entrusted me with responsibilities associated with implementing enhancements and running the NBI equipment. I have been allowed to attend some very useful courses that normally would have been difficult to justify elsewhere.

Becoming a recent member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology was very useful as it has helped me to think about the opportunities presented and how they may improve my career outlook.