Southampton University from 2005-2010
Aerospace Engineering MEng
STFC (Science Technology and Facilities Council)
Favourite thing to do in my job: Discover new things.
I design powerful electromagnets that operate at extremely low temperatures (-269ºC) to steer the beam in particle accelerators like Diamond Light Source.
I design superconducting electromagnets to steer the beam in particle accelerators. A superconducting material is one where, at low temperatures, the material shows no electrical resistance. This means that we can put high currents through thin wires, without them burning out like a fuse. This allows us to generate strong magnetic fields – of the order of 1000 times greater than a fridge magnet or strong enough to levitate a frog.
The projects I work on include designing new magnets and operating existing magnets. A magnet I am currently involved in designing is a superconducting undulator – to find out more about the role of undulator magnets, take a look at this website:
My Typical Day
Mixture of talking to people and using software to design magnets or plan activities.
My work is pretty varied from day-to-day and week-to-week.
Half my time is spent at my desk mostly doing calculations in Excel or working with some software to model the magnetic fields. I’m usually working with fairly complicated problems – so when I get started I don’t always know how I’m going to figure out an answer, I just sort of work my way towards it. This week I’ve been working on something that is new to me – so I got out a textbook, googled the words and concepts I didn’t understand, and have been gradually coming to an understanding of the problem. Hopefully at some point I will reach a point where I can work out how to calculate the number I want… it’s worked so far…
Other days are far more practical when we are operating magnets which are already in place. Those days are a bit more active – maybe using liquid nitrogen and a charcoal absorber to absorb any Nitrogen from a helium system, or setting up some vacuum pumps which have been repaired.
What I'd do with the prize money
Scientific fun in my village youth club!
I volunteer in a youth club in my village with 10-14 year olds. In the past we have spent an hour programming robots and building rockets which have been popular activities.
It would be great to develop these activities further
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Active, impatient, logical.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Attended CERN school – a 2 week course for scientists and engineers to learn how to build magnets for particle accelerators.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My Dad, for trying to answer all my questions. And then when I reached that age when I realised that not only did he not know everything, but possibly there was stuff than no-one else knew the answer to.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Open a tea-shop (so I could make lots of cake) or run some kind of outdoor adventure activities, like mountain biking.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Learning to snowboard a couple of years ago.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. Own a teleportation device – so I could see the world and still be home in time for tea. 2. Be able to play an instrument (without the hours of practise first) 3. Gaurenteed good health – so you don’t have to make sesnible decisions like eating less chocolate and more vegetable, but you’d never have even a cold.
Tell us a joke.
What did the fish say when it swam into a wall?