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The magnetic force is strong with DMU Physics students

Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) benefitted from an exclusive tour of the world’s leading manufacturer of superconducting magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) magnets.

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Physics students Sam Sayer and Jake Deeming

The 20-strong group of students from DMU’s School of Engineering and Sustainable Development, including final year Physics students Jake Deeming and Sam Sayer, visited Siemens Magnet Technology in Oxfordshire.

It’s where Siemens manufacture the superconducting magnets found in more than 30 per cent of the MRI scanners in hospitals worldwide, which use strong magnetic fields and cryogenics to safely produce clear images of patients’ internal organs.

Jake, who is planning on starting a master’s after graduating this summer, said: “You don’t automatically think of physics in the context of MRI machines, so it was a really intriguing visit.

“A demonstration of magnet production on this scale is quite unusual and I was amazed by how professional the process is and how sophisticated the materials they use are.

“It’s hard to believe they produce three to four magnets a day when you consider that each one weights about 40 tonnes!”

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Hearing all about Siemens Magnet Technology

Impressed by the sheer scale of the operation, Jake continued: “It’s the definition of precision engineering with no margin for error. Even small mistakes can cost thousands of pounds and have serious health implications.

“The testing process is pretty scary too, with such strong magnetic fields at play. The potential for things to go wrong is huge and it’s very telling that people with pace-makers can’t enter the workspace and that staff wear Kevlar boots instead of steel toe caps.”

Sam, who is already applying for jobs and undergraduate positions, said: “I’m really loving the final year of my course, especially the opportunity to see what we’ve been reading about in textbooks applied in real life.

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“This trip gave us the chance to see the different design and manufacturing processes involved, and learning about the technical engineering behind the physics was really interesting too. 

“It was also fascinating to find out that Siemens is everywhere – from manufacturing magnets and traffic controllers to gas turbines.”

Sam, Jake and other Physics students have had other similar opportunities to develop their skills and expand their knowledge. This includes taking testing out two new DMU telescopes on a four-day trip to a mobile stars planetarium in Mitcheldean.

Jake was also one of over 1,000 DMU students who went to New York in January as part of #DMUglobal, a trip which included a tour of the new subway links to Long Island and Queens which are under construction.

Describing the trip as “a fantastic cultural experience and a real eye opener”, Jake has applied for #DMUglobal’s record-breaking trip to Berlin taking place in June.

Marie Bassford, Associate Professor in Physics at DMU, said: “This visit is just one example of our commitment to embed as much industry insight into the course as possible. 

“We strive to make all of our students as employable as possible, with the trip open to everyone from DMU’s School of Engineering and Sustainable Development, attracting Electronic and Mechanical Engineering students as well.

“I think everyone was overwhelmed by the scale of the operation at Siemens and really benefitted from the one-hour lecture followed by the one-hour tour.”

Posted on Friday 10th March 2017

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