Since its opening in 2007, the Diamond Light Source has supported research from partner users in fields including art conservation, nanotechnology, and biology. This year, however, its work took an introspective turn with the synchrotron’s first-ever school specifically for engineers.

The Early Career Engineering School, held from November 12 through November 16, 2018, provided engineers with the knowledge necessary to understand the design of x-ray beamlines. Diamond accepted fifty engineers, eleven of them women, to attend. The group represented countries including the United States, China, India, and Switzerland.

Engineering specialists

“Basic as well as innovative, engineering is vital to the successful science carried out in synchrotrons,” says Sarah Macdonnell, Joint Head of Beamline Engineering at Diamond. “However, [engineering positions at synchrotrons] often require very different approaches to any previous engineering roles.”

The five-day course therefore began with conceptual introductions to synchrotron radiation, optics, and the skeleton of an x-ray beamline. Instructors could outline the parameters that determine specific system requirements with the 31 unique beamlines Diamond Light Source offers as examples.

“Our goal [was] to give these engineers a really good insight and grounding into many of the specialist technical issues that arise when designing, building and testing systems for light source facilities,” says Macdonell.

Hands-on designer light training 

The engineers then used their working knowledge of synchrotron science to understand the design and manufacture of synchrotron components. Instructors highlighted the challenges they faced by addressing issues like thermal and mechanical stability, feedback systems, and different experimental techniques. Manufacturers that provide beamline parts such as FMB Oxford and Kurt J. Lesker also attended for the supplier’s exhibit. Overall, the course aimed to give practical advice from beamline scientists to aid in proper design of beamlines.

“Delegates [learned] what really matters in engineering design in light sources,” says Stewart Scott, Joint Head of Beamline Engineering at Diamond. “They [saw] real examples and [talked] to other engineers about the challenges they face here at Diamond.”