Earlier this year, Pim marked 40 years of continuous service with Imperial
“I believe I must be one of the few technical staff remaining who have worked their way up, through the grades. I was taken on as a junior lab technician in 1978, working in the nuclear technology group. We essentially had a lead-lined nuclear bunker – purpose-built for the use of Cobalt-60 radiation sources – where the experiments took place. This bunker has since been decommissioned but the room remains as a reminder of the olden days. I then moved to the undergraduate teaching labs, then to the research labs – stepping into my present role in 2001.
I manage all of our brilliant technical professional staff, including those from the mechanical workshop and electronics services and the running of the departmental stores. I also oversee safety for the Department, maintenance of the buildings, refurbishments and large building projects. What makes this job a pleasure for me is the quality of the technical staff – they really go the extra mile. A lot of the equipment in the Department is custom built, in-house, and they contribute significantly to that.
Personally, one of the projects I’m most proud of is the refurbishment of our undergraduate teaching labs, including the carbon capture storage pilot plant and the building of our new Analytical lab. I was involved right from the design drawings, through user consultations, right up to fitting out and final handover. These new labs have had a great impact on the Department as a whole.
The College has certainly become more egalitarian over 40 years – I can remember when academic staff and support staff had to use different toilets and we were not allowed to use the common room! Also, the numbers of academic staff, administrative staff and students have almost doubled in my time, which is a reflection of the sheer volume of research and teaching we do in the Department. However, at the same time, the number of technical staff has decreased, and many of them with decades of experience are coming up to retirement soon. That is a slight concern, as you can’t just pick these people up from the street. It’s a unique talent.”