Head and shoulders shot of Mark Jones

Meet...Mark Jones

We work among extraordinary people doing extraordinary things; get to know some of them by reading these quick-fire interviews.

Name: Mark Jones
Job title: Electronics Engineer /Head of electronics workshop

What are you currently working on?
Currently my project work consists of designing and testing a low noise programmable gain optical amplifier printed circuit board for the Pamir project. The layout is very high density and due to space constraints, both sides of the printed circuit board (pcb) have been densely populated.

I am also working on the Mu3e flexible circuit board design. Although this is a circuit board, unlike conventional layouts, it uses aluminium as its conductor (rather than copper) and has extremely fine tracks of the order ~60 microns. Novel techniques are used to transfer the signal from one side of the flexible pcb to the other which makes the design work extremely challenging but exciting.

I am also running, redesigning and upgrading the lifetime VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser) test rig for the ATLAS project. Oxford's ATLAS group is presented with various VCSELs that are needed to have their ageing process accelerated to see when they fail. The rig I developed keeps them at 80 degrees Celsius and 80% humidity while performing and recording a gigabit error rate test. Tests can last months at a time.

This all interweaves with supporting the Department of Physics as the Electronics Workshop Manager.

Describe a typical day
I start the day with a big cup of coffee! Having cycled into work, I check emails, make sure everything is in order for the workshop, then start project work. I have to juggle the in-person requests for quotes, electrical failure assessment and mains voltage queries such as ‘can we do this?’ and ‘is this safe?’  I deal with the ongoing tasks related to my project commitments.

I have had the opportunity to work on an enormous variety of specialist projects over the last 23 years at Oxford and I am delighted that the breadth and depth of my skills have recently been recognised through membership to the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the global professional body for engineering.

If you had an entire day at your disposal (not at work), what would be your ideal way to spend it?
I would swing my leg over my bicycle and ride 100 plus miles.

What is your favourite place in Oxford?
The Natural History Museum on Parks Road. I really enjoy taking my children there.

Plan B: what would you be if you weren’t doing the job you are currently doing?
I would most likely pursue a career in cycle coaching. I have been a qualified coach for many years. I enjoy the interaction with people and helping them achieve their goals.