THANK YOU - @Students - for your great Q's, your Webchats, and of course your votes. I hope you enjoyed the event as much as I did :-) Wishing you all the best for the future, Graham
Started with what is now STFC in 1993 as an Apprentice, Joined Laser Dept 1997. Still there !
electrical / electronic maker + mender. + aprentice trainer.
Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Central Laser Facility, not far from Chilton. 10 miles North of Junction 13 M4, just off A34. I Also volunteer for Science Oxford, STEMNET, and RunEngland.
electrical / electronic engineer and Apprentice trainer, at STFC’s Central Laser Facility
Now for the Longer version 🙂
Most of my work is about problem solving – somethings broken, and needs to be fixed. Quickly, so the Laser can continue working,
There’s also a huge amount of teamwork, so I may work with Scientists, or Mechanics, or customers. Whoever needs my services.
Could be very low voltage ( eg a few electrons ) or, could be our 22,000 volt power system. or just a safety test on a 3pin plug. Sometimes I need to make a housing for the customers device, or send something for repair with a speciallist, either in the UK or overseas.
Also do a lot of new-build, either for our own use, ( as it can be impossible to buy the things we need ) or for use by our customers. Either designing it myself, or following drawings produced by other people. Sometimes, even making something “mail order” for the customer to use at their facility before their time on our Laser.
Training the apprentices takes a good slice of time, as they visit each placement for between 3 and 4 months, so I have to match their “shopping list” of experiences they need for their training, and our workload so everyone’s happy. This requires an understanding boss ! as sometimes I need to show the trainee every detail of the task, others might just need a quick chat or demo and they are away. I get apprentices in their training years 2, 3 or 4, ( year 1 being at college) so thier skill sets vary, so I have to understand the person, their skills, and work with them to deliver the training they require. – this is all checked to national standards ! and I get checked too, so I deliver the training correctly
I’m now training to become an assessor for the Apprentices, so I’ll be checking our Apprentices progress, and that STFC are doing there part as well !
And finally…. I’m part of the network of safety wardens, so if any alarms go off, I have certain things to do, bit like the jokey T-shirt ” if you see me running, try and keep up ! “
My Typical Day
I don’t have one ! they vary so much
Here is the basic framework,
o730 arrive, unlock, put my safety boots on. Fill kettle
0735 cup of tea while checking emails ( specially from anything in the USA for repair, due to time Zone differences )
0750 start first task, usualy something simple
0800 co-workers start arriving
0900 ( mondays – meeting/chat to discuss planned work for the week ahead ) usually onto next task by now, as I have a co-worker I can do more intersting things, so any “power on tests” need 2 people present to be safe.
1000 time for a snack /drink if possible – sometimes I work in places that need me to wear special clothes, so might not be worth stripping off thespecial clothes just for a cuppa.
1200 Lunch ! well, maybe…most days noon is feeding time, though if something needs me to fix it… I’ll carry on ( within legal limits )
1215 -1300 ( wednesdays only ) Lead jogging group for company next door ( Diamond Light Source )
1230 ( or thereabouts) back to work – might include a check of email/mobile phone for messages
1500 thinking of a coffee….usually a good time for admin/ordering, and contact with any overseas suppliers / repair shops
1600 Boots off, shoes on, and head for home… unless some thing urgent needs fixing, in which case I may stay a little later – our customers can stay very late, so if they need something to carry on for the next 4 hours, makes sense to do it 🙂
BUT it could go like this
0730 arrive, unlock, put boots on fill kettle
0735 spot email needing urgent response, so reply + start task if possible
0800 let boss know what’s going on. maybe via email, or scribbled note stuck on his PC monitor !
0805 all changed, phone call from somewhere else in the deptartment, Somethings failled and the laser is offline until it’s fixed ! that means I drop everything, and go fix the fault.
hopefully it’s a quick fix, and I can get back to the mornings orignal “urgent” task.
Why not throw in a “major emergency exercise” requiring me to drop everything + respond as part of my role as safety warden. could be helping control traffic, evacuation of building ( or site ) Or just phoning for help while applying basic first aid.
maybe drop in a thunder storm.. that can really ruin my day, specially if it ‘s close, and knocks out the power, or just part of it. we do have systems in place to cope with this sort of thing… though as we all know Lighting goes where it wants, so yes, I do have a large 3Cell torch on my desk.
maybe. just maybe. I’ll have nice, valuable tasks, that go ahead without disruption, where I can teach my/our Apprentice ( or Work experience student ) the skills they need. This is the normal state of affairs 🙂
I aim to use real tasks as that way the trainee gets to meet the customer, see where the task is, what’s involved, and where it fits in to the “big picture”
Our Apprentices have to experience basic safety drills as part of their training.Part of this is learning the sometimes unique safety requirements and evacuation proceedures for each placement, so if possible, I will try and involve them if they are lucky enough to have a drill / false alarm while on placement with me. Each worker in the Central Laser Facility gets a briefing as to the unique risks in the facility, and how we make sure they are kept safe.
What I'd do with the money
Spend It ! …wisely…..
Hmmm I’m thinking of dividing it up it smaller lumps,
so lets start with 1/5th to Science Oxford, they have really helped me with my STEM activities, which in turn have helped me become a lot more confident, and ‘elped me komunicayshun skiwls.
and 2/5ths to WISE who help raise the profile of Women in their STEM subject careers,
which leaves 2/5ths
which goes to < drum roll please > the Vulcan to the Sky Trust
pinched this quote from their website, hope they don’t mind, it sums up their aims really well.
“Why do I do it? Because I believe in the Vulcan’s ability to inspire people, inspire them to become educated, to develop new Great British engineering, to learn about sciences, engineering and aviation, to give Children (of all ages) motivation to achieve their goals, to be the best they can be. ”
So there we have it. how I’d spend the £500 to inspire as many people as I can.
Quick note to avoid confusion.
The Vulcan to the Sky trusts’ Vulcan is a Jet aircraft, designed in the late 1940’s, and is a truly Iconic engineering solution. to see it fly is amazing, one of the all time greats, so far ahead of it’s time then, and still (almost) unbelievably good. so quick, yet so slow, so huge, yet almost stealthy, so quiet… well maybe not, that unique “Vulcan Howl” on take off has be experienced, as does the spine tingling noise. should inspire lots of people into engineering.
the Central Laser Facilities Vulcan is a gound based, multi beam laser system. please do not confuse the 2 !
Vulcan Laser will never fly. It does hold/has held a World Record, and has done ( and continues to do ) some really amazing science. If you can, book up a school vist to see Vulcan Laser for youself, and maybe walk inside…. also highly inspirational !
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
calm, confident, unstoppable
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Worked on the most intense pulsed Laser in the World !
What did you want to be after you left school?
something like this. Electricity has facinated me from an early age. At Primary school ? Pilot.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
in what way ?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Lost ! engineering is everywhere, and IS life…. maybe that Pilot.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
ACDC…. no, seriously ! no electrical pun intended. loud + fast.
What's your favourite food?
cake – is there anything else ?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Running + Athletics ! great fun, freedom, and chance to compete at Area + National Championships. – yes, it links to engineering, energy burn rates, power/weight ratios, liquid consumption per mile, temperatures+pressures….all engineering related !
Tell us a joke.
why is your Horse sawing that lump of metal ?….. it’s making a bolt for the door !