28 February 2024. Brought to you by Taya Stankevych.

Amanda Cruchley

What is your current job / programme of study?

Senior Research Engineer in Additive Manufacturing at the Manufacturing Technology Centre & Assistant Professor in Materials Education at the University of Birmingham

What A-Levels (or equivalent) did you do?

Maths, Physics & Spanish

Why did you choose a career in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)?

I thought I wanted to do either science or engineering but I wasn’t sure. After my GCSEs, I attended some outreach events and from these, I was really interested in the materials used and why for different applications.

What did you enjoy most about your MSE course? (If you didn’t do a MSE course which course did you do and what led to you MSE?)

I love that it’s a very broad area – in my first year I had a module on different manufacturing routes including casting and 3D printing. We were even able to try out casting ourselves. I was really interested in the advantages and disadvantages of the manufacturing routes and how you pick the right one. I got an internship, then research project then PhD with the lecturer who ran that module and now I’ve been working in 3D printing for nearly 5 years.

What is your research about?

Metal Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing. I look at ways of printing new or challenging materials and making 3D printing more efficient or more sustainable.

What is the coolest thing you have done in your career so far?

During my PhD, I did zero-gravity flight testing of an aluminium 3D printer that had been designed for space. We flew to a safe area on the ‘Vomit Comet’ and then the plane would fly sharply up and then sharply down. In the area between those movements you experience about 30s of micro-gravity and we could test our machine. I think it’s pretty cool that we could the power needed for the printer was only the same as a normal kettle.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

I love my job and working with my team. I’d like to do more work on strategy and management making sure we have the right machines and abilities in the team to solve the problems our customers will want from us in the future.

What is your favourite material (and why)?

Tungsten – I did my PhD on it and it has loads of unique properties. It has the highest melting point of any metal (3420degC) (nearly 5x that of aluminium) and is also very dense around 8x more than aluminium. That means it’s great for radiation shielding which can be useful in a fusion reactor where it needs both temperature and radiation resistance. It can also be used for weight balancing (like in a Formula 1 car) without taking up to much space.

What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?

There are still options and no choice is irreversible. I was so worried about making the ‘wrong’ choice but I’ve seen how many paths people can take to the same place and everyone gains skills through their experience so nothing is ever wasted.