‘The software is the hub from which all of these processes are managed’

Marco Konijnenburg, head Software Engineering group

‘We have about seventy constantly changing setups to carry out experiments. A large proportion of these are automated. Valves that open and close, laser pulses that are fired at something, gases that enter somewhere. This must all happen at exactly the right moment in exactly the right way. And the signals generated by the experiment must be received, stored, and displayed in understandable graphics. The software is the hub of which all these processes are managed.’

Library
‘The researchers decide what they want to measure. We then jointly discuss how this can best be measured and how the experiment can best be realized. For this project teams have been set up that include the researcher, us, and other technical groups. Each Software Engineering employee participates in about three such project groups. If necessary, we produce tailored software. However, we are also compiling a library of basic components that we can use.’

No dabbling
‘There are many young researchers at AMOLF. They come and go, but not every physicist is a good programmer. Our group offers continuity and professionalism. Without us, there would be a lot of ‘dabbling’ in the software area. We ensure that the software is robust and well maintained and we use the most modern tools.’

What I like about my work:
From an early age I have been fascinated by technology; you do something here and something moves over there. That young boy is still in me. And at AMOLF there are a lot of big and beautiful toys!