What we do
Creating the tools that advance science
We place our customers’ needs at the heart of everything we do. Working with our commercial and operations colleagues, we develop prototypes that can quickly be brought to market. Together, we’re pioneering new imaging techniques, developing advanced manufacturing and mastering materials at the atomic level. Our technical teams are the people behind products which are widely acknowledged to be the most innovative and best in their fields. In fact, many of our staff are world experts and regularly invited to deliver lectures at conferences and universities around the world.
of our workforce are in technical roles
mission years for oi equipment in space
of 2018 revenue from products launched in last 3 years
Customer Support Engineer - Germany
Senior Software Developer
High Wycombe, United Kingdom
Santa Barbara - California, United States
Product Development/Project Manager
Belfast, United Kingdom
Yatton - Bristol, United Kingdom
TRAINING & SUPPORT
Growing your expertise
We actively encourage and support your personal development at Oxford Instruments, whether it’s by attending training courses, gaining additional qualifications or joining a professional body. Our internal programmes include Management Development, Technical Development and our Early Careers Programme, and you could have the opportunity to take part in a secondment or receive sponsorship for an external qualification such as an MBA or a PhD.
Life at Oxford Instruments
When I came in for my interview, I found that people were really dedicated to their work and what they were doing, it was really encouraging. I completed a Master’s degree in Computer Science and then joined the company as a software developer. I did that for about seven years and then started to take on projects as a scrum master too. The company have been really supportive and I’ve been trained in scrum and agile ways of working, as well as project management.
Now I’m part project manager, part scrum master. For the former, I run the project from start to finish and make sure everyone is happy and knows what they’re doing. We’re looking at deadlines and priorities to support the team with everything. Being a scrum master is more administrative, you need to keep the requirements clear and communicate with all the different teams to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on. I actually work part time, because I have a small child and it really helps me to be able to be flexible, because I can be very productive here and still have time at home with my daughter.
From the very first day, I’ve really enjoyed working with real products and having ownership of the entire software lifecycle throughout specification, design, coding, testing, deployment and support. At the end of the day, you’re creating this amazing scientific tool that helps people out.
My PhD in Quantum Physics was half-funded by Oxford Instruments. This gave me the opportunity to use some of their products, visit the factory and get to know the team. The minute I walked into the factory, I knew that this was somewhere that I wanted to work. I really liked the working environment and the development opportunities offered. After 6 months in the business I joined the early careers programme which is designed to give newer employees experience of working in different areas of the business, like finance and operational management. The programme enabled me to do a secondment in California for three months and to meet lots of people all around the group.
In my day job I’m a quantum engineer and I’m part of the New Product Introduction (NPI) team. This offers me the opportunity to work on numerous Oxford Instruments products, whether that’s designing, testing a product or working on new developments in the lab. It’s really varied and I can find myself working on multiple small projects, or one big one!
The best part is that I still feel part of the academic environment. I still write papers, have the chance to go to conferences and stay in touch with academics through collaborative projects.
Everyone starts in the test department here, because if you’re technically inclined that’s the place where you learn to run the instruments, take them apart and put them back together again. After working there for a while I became supervisor and then, when the Cypher VRS project started, I moved to Research and Development (R&D). My role now involves working on new products. We have daily stand-up progress meetings, where we’ll talk about what we’ve done, what we are doing, what we’re testing and how we’ve made progress. We all try to help each other reach a common goal. It’s really like a family here. I’ve known a lot of these people for 30 years and there’s a real focus on helping other people to succeed.
We keep track of our time, but we can be flexible in terms of when we start and finish. I commute for about an hour, so I have quite a strict schedule for when I come and go, but within the day I have the flexibility to balance what I do. For me it’s more about separating my work and home life. When I’m at work I focus on my job, and when I’m at home I relax and focus on my hobbies. I work on cars, do a lot of carpentry and I’m learning how to play the guitar.
I completed my first degree in Physics in China. Afterwards, I did my PhD in Semiconductor Physics at the University of Glasgow. When I joined Oxford Instruments, I started as an applications engineer. I really wanted to see the results of my PhD theories having an impact. Working in Plasma Technology, I felt like I was able to take my theories and apply them practically.
Gradually, I’ve worked my way up to senior and then principal applications engineer. I'm now leading our work in compound semiconductors, and over the years I’ve developed many of the processes for these materials. I’ve gained a lot of experience in the past 18 years, which is critical to developing new processes for challenging new materials. Part of my job involves answering questions from the customers or the sales people. I also organise training and supervise the junior members of the team.
I’ve had the opportunity to go to conferences to learn about the devices our customers are making. That helps us to fully understand our customers’ requirements. I've also been to quite a few seminars across the globe where we have the chance to give presentations and can discuss our work with customers, and I’ve organised webinars that attracted large numbers of audiences.
All these years later, I still love what I do and even though I don’t go down to the lab as often to do the work myself, lab work is still the part I enjoy the most.
For an engineer, the products that we make are genuinely interesting. Our customers are doing remarkable things with what we make and that was a significant draw for me. I joined as a Senior Systems Engineer, then I had the chance to do a secondment into R&D, where I was mentored by our CTO. This was an opportunity for accelerated learning that placed me on the path to my current role. Now I’m a Principal Engineer and Technical Project Lead. I work in partnership with a Project Manager and together we lead a team that covers mechanical, software, electronic hardware and optical design. My role evolves as we progress through the development stages. In the feasibility stages I’ll develop and lead proof-of-concept and technical de-risk activities. Once a project is running, I’ll work with the engineering team in design and verification to make sure that the product meets the needs of the business.
The work we do here is both rewarding and challenging and there are times when you have to put in the hours, but it’s not every day. The problems we solve take your whole brain and that makes it fun, but I try to have a balance and in the evenings I play piano, sing in a local choir and try to keep my fitness level up.
Creating your own path
We offer three distinct career routes within Technical: technical, people management and project management. You’ll be given exposure and training across all three as you need it. We have a formal review process, at least every six months, which focuses on your future career aspirations. With this we can tailor technical challenges and training to your needs, assign new projects and offer you exposure to other products.