Pierre - Mechanical Engineer (Belgian)

‘I’ve never been faced with a boring job, just excitement every day, day after day. It’s thrilling’.
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‘I help scientists turn their ideas into reality. A scientist comes to see me with an idea for a piece of equipment and I turn that idea into a mechanical concept. I study the technical and financial feasibility of the project, proceed with the realisation and then I install the piece on the beamline. Often, there is no straightforward path from idea to reality.

I love working with others as part of a group, discussing, debating and interacting on the project. For me to feel that a project is successful it has to be shared with interesting people and leaders. It’s in the symbiosis between technology and human values and the capacity to see the bigger picture.’

I trained as a nuclear energy engineer in Belgium then continued with a Master of Science in energy technology in the UK. I joined the ESRF in 1993 and never thought I’d still be here 23 years later! I used to go caving in the Vercors when I was a child but I had completely forgotten about it until coming for an interview at the ESRF. When I found myself at the foot of the Vercors and remembered, it became extra motivation for accepting a position here. I now live in the mountains and I enjoy a lot of the activities proposed here, like hiking, cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing.

At the ESRF, I started in the Accelerator division, working on magnetism and mechanics. After 9 years, I took a sabbatical in the USA, and worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  When I returned to the ESRF in 2003, I integrated the Mechanical Engineering group and have been there ever since. The ESRF gave me the chance to specialise in conception and develop my skills in mechanics.’