Harwell Electrical Apprentice followed by various tech jobs at Rutherford Appleton Lab before moving to Diamond Light Source.
Senior PLC Engineer
Diamond Light Source.
I build Automated Control systems to protect expensive bespoke equipment.
I lead a small team of engineers that specialise in writing software for Programmable Logic Controllers (mini computers that can handle many differnet input signals and drive output signals dependant upon logic decisions). We look after and maintain over 300 protection systems in and around Diamond. We liaise with the scientists and engineers to come up with solutions to unique problems. We then create the logic software required to allow Scientist and visiting user to safely use the equipment.
My involvement starts before anything is made in the design process. I will sit in on the specification & design meetings to enusre that as many of the requirement are captured as possible. I typically then have to go away and work out what hardware is required, design the subsystem using a computer drawing package, put the design into production and then create the control software. As with many complex designs the user is not always exactly aware of what they require from day one so I have to design some flexibility into anything i do to allow for this.
My Typical Day
Fix anything that has happened over night (the machine runs 24/7), work on new designs, attend meetings.
A normal day consists of login on and checking emails and fault reports. Anything that happened over night but didn’t need fixing immediatley must be looked at first thing. Then I might have to attend a design review or planning meeting for a new Beamline or Machine upgrade.
This may then be followed up with Commissioning a new piece of equipment or working down on a new Beamline under construction on the protection system if we are in a build phase or possibly some development task in our lab.
There are also drawings and updates to keep on top of and documentation that must be completed.
What I'd do with the money
Buy a new Robot for our open day demo kit after the apprenitces wrecked the last one!
We designed and built a touch screen controlled Robot agility game that gave out chocolate Footballs to successful operators. We used to take it to schools and lend it out on Open days to different departments across RAL. Unfortunatley after many years of faithfull service it got broken on an open evening for future apprentices. I would like to buy a better Robot arm and if possible improve the system which used to be a brilliant and fun way to quickly demonstrate a little of what Engineering is about.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Been part of the team that built a world class Synchrotron on time and to budget that delivers world class science on a daily bassis.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
We had a policeman come in to give us a talk. I used his handcuffs to handcuff the teacher to a chair and he didn’t have the key with him!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Probably be a property develper specialising in sustainable housing.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Amin Van Burren
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Single seater racing cars at Silverstone (also most scary)!
Tell us a joke.
What do you call a man with no shins? ToeKnee.