‘We are the first port of call’

Iliya Cerjak, head Mechanical Engineering group

‘Our doors are wide open to PhDs and postdocs who need a special mass spectrometer, microscope, sample holder or anything else. It doesn’t matter how far they are in developing their ideas. We brainstorm and sketch together with them, on the back of a beer mat so to speak. It’s an interesting interaction. We find the physics enlightening and in turn we can teach the researchers something about nuts, bolts, motors, and cogwheels.’

IKEA-like drawing
‘We are at the forefront of the research at AMOLF. Ultimately we provide a detailed design that includes the smallest details. From colorful simulations, illustrations and production drawings to an IKEA-like instructional drawing. Other support groups use these designs to do their work; parts that can be purchased are ordered and what can’t be purchased is made. What makes our work so gratifying is that we are involved in the entire process: from the first ideas to the final result. The lines of communication are short and the atmosphere is good.

‘A lot is expected from us. You need to be extremely precise and not get upset easily. Many people see your design and everybody comments on it. But you still need to be able to steer your own course. At the same time, you must not be a soloist and want to do everything yourself. That isn’t efficient because nobody is good at everything. So you must dare to ask for advice. Yet despite all these requirements, you have a lot of freedom. There is often more than one way to Rome. So you can give your own creativity plenty of space.’

What I like about my work:
That I am free to follow my own ‘technical heart’.