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Luke Bladen: Mechanical Technician


Luke Bladen: Mechanical Technician

Daresbury Laboratory – Cheshire

"I had something to do with that"

(Credit: STFC)

Did you always want to be an engineer?

When I was younger, I wanted to be some type of countryside ranger, but there was nothing available and it was really hard to get into. So I went back to college and did a BTEC in engineering, and that’s when I realised how fun it was, and thought “well, if I can’t get a job as a ranger, this could be just as good – I’m working with my hands and not just stuck in an office somewhere”. Since I started my apprenticeship I realised how great it really is. Now I’ve finished the scheme I’m a mechanical technician.

I like the creativity, and even though you are given a job, you’re kind of your own boss. You go and do your own thing, working it out and solving problems. It really appealed to me.

What was your apprenticeship training scheme like?

For the apprenticeship scheme they hire a mechanic and an electrician, so we work together; I take charge of the mechanical, and they take charge of the electrical. We’re just a good little team.

On the big projects, you’re just trying to keep up with what they are teaching you, and trying to retain it all. Sometimes you feel like you’ve only just skimmed something and then they’ll move onto something else. But they are pretty relaxed at STFC, and if you bring that up, and just say “I don’t know enough about this to feel confident doing it myself” they’ll keep teaching you. It’s a really good place to work. Everyone in the different departments is pretty cool, and you mix with a lot of people.

It’s serious work but it’s enjoyable. That’s why I like working on particle accelerators. When I see a publication or something come out, I think “I had something to do with that”.

What did you enjoy about your engineering apprenticeship?

One of the other things I really like doing is the public engagement, which is getting science and engineering to the general public – it’s really rewarding. STFC does as much as it can at Daresbury, especially with primary schools kids and high school kids. Last time we went into a primary school, we took a steam engine and the 3D printers, and bunch of old vessels from the particle accelerators, to see if the kids could put them back together again. I remember doing that as a kid and how much I appreciated it.

What are you going to do next?

Now that CLARA (Daresbury Laboratory’s new particle accelerator) is on, I’m going to try and follow CLARA to its completion. I just went to CERN on a trip with one of the nuclear physicists, which was really good. That was for a week, and it looks like we are going to have to keep going out, so I’m excited about that. And there’s another project at CERN, which will also need a technician so hopefully my name will be put forward for that too. Potentially, I could have two separate projects at CERN, as well as CLARA here at Daresbury...

What are you going to do next?

Find out more about his apprenticeship scheme.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000