Tristan Canfer
31 Jan 2020



Tristan tells us about his journey through ISIS from apprentice to full-time staff member.




After finishing his apprenticeship with STFC, based at ISIS, Tristan has recently joined the beam diagnostics team as a technician.


I studied A-level electronics, although was always more into arts and crafts than engineering. I knew I wanted to be an engineer and looked into apprenticeships. Most were in the manufacturing industry, but the placements at RAL give the opportunity for lots of variety.

My advice for potential apprentices is to do lots of research: there are loads of apprenticeships out there but there is no central place to find them, so keep looking. Once you start, every scheme is what you make of it: ask questions, branch out and make your own path. It's a bit daunting at first but everyone has been so welcoming; I've never felt looked down on as an apprentice.


During the three years that I was based at RAL as an apprentice, I worked across eight different groups, including going to CERN for seven weeks to work on a project with some fellow apprentices. It's hard to pick a favourite project, but any project where I use skills that are really fiddly and take time and practice to develop make me most proud, and give me most satisfaction. I really like going into the inner synchrotron. It's a concrete vault of electronics with so much heritage: it's great being part of something so huge.


I've recently started a job as a diagnostics technician, which is an extension of the work I began as an  apprentice. I will be developing, testing and repairing electronic systems that keep track of the beam. Our busiest times are when it's quiet for everyone else and the beam is off.

After doing the apprenticeships placements, all I knew was that I wanted to work at ISIS.​ I felt inspired by the sheer scale of the machine and the effort that keeps it running. The combination of the work I'm doing and its variety, the people I'm working with and the environment here means my only worry is that I'll never work anywhere else!

LGBT in STEM network

While I was at CERN for my placement, I discovered their LGBT network and that gave me the inspiration to start one at RAL. We recently celebrated LGBT STEM day for the second year in a row, and the next step will be to build connections between us and other organisations, to see how we can improve life on campus.

Whilst running the network takes up some of my time, I've had lots of support from my managers and HR, and it gives me that extra nugget of purpose. My goal is to be a good colleague and friend, not just a great engineer.

On Thursdays, I can be spotted dancing with the RAL-based Lepton Morris side – we perform in lab coats, with yellow and black hazard hankies!​

Contact: de Laune, Rosie (STFC,RAL,ISIS)