I only graduated two years ago and I have spent the whole time working for my current employer.
I am an Electrical Engineer working on the big power supplies for a large fusion experiment called the Joint European Torus (JET).
The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) – we like acronyms.
I run and fix big electrical equipment for a science experiment looking at a future power generation idea.
I’ve only been out of university for two years and now I’m putting my degree to use! When I’m not at work I like to travel the world and, when I don’t have any money left for traveling, I play games on my PS4. I might occasionally fix bicycles, cars or motorbikes. I’m also an active STEM ambassador, currently helping out at Science Oxford’s “Ideas to Inventions” sessions and last year I ran a Code Club for a local primary school.
The science experiment I work on is called the Joint European Torus (JET). JET is a nuclear fusion reactor where a few milligrams of fuel gas can be heated up to temperatures over 150 million degrees Celsius. At these high temperatures, nuclear fusion occurs and our fuel gas joins together into a different type of gas. This process releases a lot of energy but it takes a lot of energy to get the gas up to such a high temperature! The aim of fusion research now is to get more energy out than you put in.
I’m an electrical engineer; so I look after the same kind of things you might find in your house, just bigger. I mostly work with something called amplifiers which turn a very small electronic signal into a big, controlled, power signal. This is the same sort of thing you would find that powers your speakers at home, either in your computer, phone, tablet or hi-fi system attached to your TV. But the amplifiers I work with can provide a lot of power so they take up a lot of space, the best part of a warehouse!
These amplifiers make up a part of the overall power supplies. The rest of the power supplies includes big transformers, big circuit breakers, two on-site flywheel generators and some really big switches. They’re all required to make JET work!
My Typical Day
Using my brain in a different way each day.
I have several typical days, I could be: running the power supplies from the control room, fixing problems, investigating problems, testing parts or designing something new. I could even be getting greasy performing yearly maintenance.
What I'd do with the money
I would donate the money to Science Oxford to buy equipment for their creative computing clubs that they are developing.
Science Oxford is my local STEMNET branch which I volunteer as a STEM ambassador through. STEM means Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
As I am already going out to schools for outreach I feel the best use of this money would be equipment for outreach clubs and the creative computing club being developed by Science Oxford looks great. It gives children aged 11-16 the opportunity to experience what technology can do. They focus on the use of Arduino microcontrollers which allow you to write code to interact with the real world.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Inventive, logical, kind.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Hitch-hiked all the way to the south of Spain.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I had detention once for not tucking in my shirt…
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
I designed a test load for a really big power supply based off some recycled parts from an old machine.
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Tell us a joke.
“Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “I.Dunnap.” “I. Dunnap-who?” “You’ve done a poo next to your door?! That’s disgusting!!!”
A view of some of the power supplies equipment in a warehouse next to the JET machine
One of the large Super Grid Transformers where JET is connected to the national grid
A view inside JET. On the left is a view when the machine is off. On the right is a view when the machine is on and making fusion happen! The shiny tiles protect the machine from the very hot fuel gas (otherwise known as plasma)