Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin


hzbEMIL • Watching the Secret Lives of Atoms

EMIL and the flying saucers

authored 3 years ago:

Interview with Sławomir Więcek, the "assembly man"

Every week, the looks of EMIL's construction site are changing. These days, it has become especially vivid: The machines that will constitute the new lab are arriving. With them, many engineering experts have come to assemble all the parts and make sure everything works as planned. This week, I had the chance to talk to Sławomir Więcek, one of the vacuum experts of PREVAC:


Mr Więcek, what exactly is your job here at EMIL?

I am here to assemble the system that the company that I work for, PREVAC, has constructed. We have built it from the beginning and now we are installing it here, at the beamline. I'm the “assembly man”.

So was the machine itself built at your headquarters in Poland?

Yes – every part is produced and assembled at our company. There, we already made tests to see if it all worked as it should. Then we disassembled it into some parts, brought it here and now we are assembling it back.

How long does that whole process take?

It takes a while! We have been here for two months now, and in the company we have been working on it for at least a year, I guess.

The machine you are working on is kind of the main part of EMIL's SISSY lab – the special transfer system from the deposition chamber directly to the beamline. To you, what is special and new about it?

Well, one thing that makes it special is that sample holders of a diameter up to six inches can be transferred. That is quite big! Otherwise, I don't really know about the other new characteristics of this lab that might interest the physicists and chemists. I'm here to do my job as the assembling engineer – no more and no less.

Is there any main challenge for you at this job in Berlin? Or is it “business as usual”?

Generally, I know what to do – I have assembled many similar systems before. But there are some new things, that we still learn how to deal with. We are still making changes and adjusting details to optimize the system. But in the end, it's a system like every other. We come, install it and check if it works properly – that's our job!

How is the work climate here at BESSY – how do you and your Polish colleagues communicate with all the other people that work here?

For me it's alright,because I can speak English and understand German quite well. Some of my colleagues have more problems with German. But for me it's not a problem, I have been in Germany many times before. In general, communication here at BESSY is nice – everyone speaks English. It's worse somewhere else in the city, where not everyone speaks English...

Speaking of the city – where do you stay while doing your job here in Berlin?

Usually, we stay at hotels. But this time, it's a huge project and we knew that we would be here for at least two months or even more. So now we stay at a rented flat.

Did you get any chance to do a little bit of sightseeing?

Sadly, not really! I drive home to my family in Poland every weekend and during the week we are very busy with the job. And now our project here is almost finished... But I hope one day I will see a bit more of the city.

It seems that your job comes with quite a lot of traveling to different places, installing or repairing your systems. Do you enjoy that?

That really depends! For example this time, we have been here for eight weeks and I didn't really have the time to visit the city. And there are many people at our company, so I don't need to come with every new machine that is built. But from time to time, my job lets me travel around the world and I enjoy that.