Employee Spotlight: Dr Robert Bianchini – Technical Support Engineer

Ionoptika is very proud of its skilled and dedicated staff, who together with our loyal users make up our global community. Today we interview our Technical Support Engineer Robert Bianchini.

Robert joined our team in 2019 and is the person you come into contact with whenever you have a question or need a hand. Today we learn more about him and his job.

Dr Robert Bianchini - Technical Support Engineer

How long have you worked at Ionoptika and what career path brought you to us?

I have been working at Ionoptika since September 2019, so almost four years to date. This is my first full time job since completing my undergraduate course and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.

Why did you decide to study science when you were in school or university?

When I started High School, I didn’t think I would end up pursuing a career in science. In fact, I had plans to become a computer games programmer, or a journalist, even though chemistry had always been one of my better subjects.

It was only in my last couple of years in high school that I learned about Analytical and Forensic Chemistry, and its power to help study the world and resolve practical problems, whether it was finding out “who-dun-it?” in the latest CSI episode, or work out how much pollution is caused by cruise ships in Venice. But what really tipped me over to pursuing a science career was the final school year’s Chemistry project on analysing the water purity and contaminants in the local river, in which I even played the key role of wading into the river with my waterproof clothes to take water samples for the project.

Can you describe a typical day working here as a technical support engineer?

My main job as customer support is to be the first point of contact for our customers, and help them out when our systems don’t work as expected in the field, or when they have some technical questions about our systems.

There isn’t really a typical day for working in this role; I could be remote logging in to one of our customers’ J105 instruments to diagnose software issues or align a column on one day, replying to technical questions on the next day, or arranging the return of older items back to our offices for repair the following day, etc. Sometimes I get to do all the above on the same day!

When I am not helping customers, I update and expand our Service knowledge base with articles on how to solve the issues customers encountered so far, to aid our Service team should they encounter this issue again, and update our Manuals documentation, to prevent these issues from occurring in the first place.

What has been your best memory or achievement in your working life?

If you include my PhD as part of my working life, I would say that my biggest achievement was getting the planar-LIF upgrade to my PhD experiment to work, and developing the imaging data acquisition programs which allowed me to capture the images and make movies of OH radicals scattering off liquid surfaces in a 2D plane, effectively pioneering a new way to observe and study these scattering experiments.

What has been your best memory or achievement in your time at Ionoptika?

My two biggest accomplishments so far at Ionoptika have been:

  • Planning, organizing and running a tour and presentation of our company and our products for members of the local section of the Royal Society of Chemistry,
  • Assisting a customer in China with the commissioning of two of our instruments, done entirely via remote log-in.

But it is still quite early in my career, and I’m sure I will achieve many more things throughout my time here at Ionoptika.

Did you encounter any hardships in your career path?

The most difficult time in my career at Ionoptika was during the COVID pandemic during lockdown. I had only just moved into my role as Technical Support when the lockdown started, and as I didn’t have a car nor a driving licence, I couldn’t get to the office safely within the lockdown restrictions.

As such, I was working from home in a small flat all throughout lockdown, doing customer support tasks. But thanks to our Service team, I quickly learnt useful troubleshooting information, and was soon able to reply to customer enquiries on my own.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I am a very avid reader, reading anything from sci-fi and fantasy books, mystery books, comic books and manga, and online web serials and webcomics. I love reading and buying books so much that my flat is slowly turning into a small library with all the books I’ve read so far! Last I counted, I have over 400 books in my flat alone, and I’m sure I’ll be reaching 500 soon!

When not reading, I love watching movies, and going out to play card games tournaments of Magic the Gathering with my friends.

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