He's a believer!
Mike Wykes could be enjoying himself in a well-earned retirement from a long career in fusion, but like quite a few other scientists and engineers of "a certain age", he is still busy making his contribution to ITER.
Mike read mechanical engineering followed by a DPhil in fluid dynamics. He started off in nuclear fission research in the UK's fast reactor program at Dounreay in the very north of Scotland, and moved into the fusion world of the European JET experiment in the 1980s. His career included remote handling, tritium safety (preparing the safety case for the JET first tritium experiments in 1991) before becoming leader of the Vacuum Group. "I worked with a small team of professionals, all of whom interfaced really closely, so that I could make this move into vacuum technology."
In 1992 he went to work for ITER in Naka. The move to Japan came as a surprise as he originally thought he was going to the Garching ITER site in Germany, but Mike really enjoyed his time in the Far East. Since then, he has worked more or less full time for ITER, in the UK and Japan, before finally coming to Cadarache as chief vacuum engineer in the Vacuum Group.
Asked why he's still working hard for ITER, Mike replies that fusion research is more of a vocation than a profession. There is always something new and mentally challenging to think about. "People believe in fusion."
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