Graeme’s job is to figure out how to maintain, upgrade and assemble cryostats – mechanical chambers that keep the Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC) superconducting magnets colder than the temperature in space.
The LHC is the world’s biggest machine and is used to look for the world’s smallest particles. Finding these particles will help us better understand the universe. Hundreds of scientists need it for their work - but it’s impossible to run the machine without the chambers that Graeme makes.
“When I was at school, I wasn’t at all academic to be honest with you, but I enjoyed physics – it was the only science lesson I enjoyed! I found it really exciting. Fast-forward and I still find it really odd that I’m working in a science environment – but I wouldn’t change it for the world!”
Managing a team of five, Graeme has to figure out the best way to take apart and re-assemble the equipment that can weigh up to 32 tonnes. He also makes instruction kits so that other teams can put together complicated parts, while also providing the technical expertise to make sure all the equipment works in the LHC, 100m below ground.
Graeme has worked on projects at the cutting-edge of science for the whole of his career, so what is his greatest achievement? “
Coming out to CERN and working abroad, in French, on an enormous project. When I was young, I never thought I would be working abroad, but as I got older, I liked the idea and it’s something I should have done sooner – it’s something I would encourage anyone to do.”
Graeme's career pathway
- 1982 Completed a four-year apprenticehip with the UK Atomic Energy Authority
- 1986 Became an Instrument Maker – spent the next 20 years working on nuclear fusion projects
- 2005 Became the Lead Technician at the Diamond Light Source
- 2012 Moved to CERN in Switzerland to be a Mechanical Technician