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Getting to know

Getting to know – Phillip Lugg-Widger

18 November 2020

In our second in the series of introducing the team, please meet our new lab development manager Phil. He joined the team earlier this month.

What is your current role? Researcher / Lab Manager for the “MAGMA” project

What does it involve? I carry out research in magnetic materials and their applications. I manage the day to day running of the magnetics lab which includes everything from creating and setting up equipment to researching magnetic materials for applications in sensors, electric vehicles, transformers and much more.

What are the biggest challenges? There are new and exciting challenges in research every day and no two projects are the same. There is a wide variety of experimental equipment and machines which need to be understood in order to gain accurate test results.

What is the most fun thing you and your work colleagues do? Probably the Museum After Dark event. This was an opportunity to showcase the importance of our research to the public. We had lots of fun showing children and their families what we do and how the research impacts everyone’s daily lives.

Where are you from? The Jurassic Coast, Dorset, England

How did you end up doing what you do? I studied at school to gain GCSE’s and continued to do A-levels in Maths, Graphics Technology and History. Using these qualifications I was able to gain a place at Cardiff University to study electrical and electronic engineering as I have always been interested in science and in particular how everything electrical works. Following this I undertook my doctorate in electrical engineering looking at the power networks and researching new environmentally friendly materials to transport power from power plants through the electrical network to people’s homes safely whist reducing global warming and harmful emissions. After this I became a researcher at the university characterising new materials and their uses in the power industry working on a variety of projects. Currently I research new magnetic materials for applications in transformers, sensors, electric vehicles etc and manage these research facilities at the university.

What’s the best thing about your work? When you spend a long time setting up a new and exciting piece of lab equipment and it finally works allowing you to carry out novel tests that no-one else has ever done before.  

What attracted you to engineering? I always wanted to understand how everything ‘worked’, even from an early age I would spend hours taking things apart to understand how they operated and how they could be fixed. Carrying out research in engineering allows me to understand the practical use of the maths and science I was taught at school and why it is so important to keep developing materials and equipment that reduce global warming and improve sustainability for a better future.

Highlight a couple of characteristics that best describe you:- I am patient and imaginative which has enabled me to create new and exciting tests and equipment setups whilst working in a practical and self-motivated way to achieve project outcomes and goals.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I enjoy swimming, watching films, walks with our dog and spending time with my family.

What has your job taught you? What skills have you developed? My job has taught me how to conduct research for engineering purposes. Every day we all use research to find the best new objects that we want to buy but my job has allowed me to refine that skill to find answers for scientific purposes. In research for future new materials no-one knows the answers for definite because the work has never been carried out before, you have to create a new piece of equipment to conduct a test to find out the answer and then share this result to benefit everyone. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to do something similar? Concentrate on what you want to do and then keep asking questions in order to get where you want to go and push the boundaries of what is possible. I find you often get a lot more satisfaction from doing something challenging and difficult than something easy that everyone already knows.